Molecular Manipulation Lab

The Vision


The idea to freely control the atomic-scale structure of matter has intrigued scientists for many decades. A fascinating way to approach this goal is the use of complex functional molecules as pre-fabricated building blocks for nano-scale devices and machines. By virtue of chemical design, such molecules can have built-in functionalities like that of an electric diode or of a mechanical switch. Therefore, simply put, just the right assembly of just the right molecules would be able to perform complex computations or mechanical work at the smallest length scale imaginable. Around this vision, various research areas have clustered which reach from molecular biology (in fact, molecular machines exist already in all organisms) over chemistry (the Nobel Prize in chemistry 2016 was awarded for the synthesis and characterization of molecular machines) to surface physics and nanotechnology. In the MoMaLab we want to explore how far the principles of classical engineering, like deterministic manipulation and piecewise assembly, can be scaled down to the atomic and molecular scale. At the conditions of ultra-high vacuum and cryogenic temperatures, individual molecules come as close as possible to macroscopic work pieces. In the absence of significant thermal fluctuations and contaminations mechanical manipulation could become deterministic and fully reproducible.

Important questions which however remain and which we address in the MoMaLab are, e.g.:
(1) How to actuate such a manipulation?
(2) How to observe the molecule during the manipulation?
(3) How to interpret the sparse data reorded during molecular manipulation with a scanning probe microscope?

Read more on the development of nanotechnology

February 4th, 2019

Hand-controlled STM-based atomic manipulation with real-time visual feedback from an MD simulation Read at Beilstein..

October 25th, 2018

We have been granted 2 Mio core‑h on JURECA for our simulation work on molecular adsorption and manipulation.

September 6th, 2018

We are happy that MSc Michael Maiworm joins us till January to work on molecular control algorithms.

August 16th, 2018

Paper on fast SQDM controller online Read at IEEE..

August 1st, 2018

We welcome our new group member MSc Rustem Bolat.

June 27th, 2018

Single molecule finally stands on its own two feet! Read at Nature..

June 1st, 2018

We welcome our new group members Dr. Hadi Arefi and MSc Marvin Knol. Scientists..

May 18th, 2018

New article on the physics of molecular quantum dots online now. Get pdf.. View at PRL..

September 5th, 2017

ERC starting grant for controlled molecular manipulation. more..