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

June 27th, 2019

"The theory of scanning quantum dot microscopy" Read at J Phys. Cond. Mat.

June 10th, 2019

New scanning quantum dot microscopy (SQDM) paper online. Quantitative measurements of surface potentials and dipoles. New window to the nanoscale world. Read at Nature Materials Read full-text w/o subscription Press release

February 15th, 2019

We welcome Joshua Scheidt, computer science student at Maastricht University, who joins the MoMaLab for his master thesis.

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.
Meet us at
The 22nd International Conference on NC-AFMRegensburg, Germany, July 29 - August 2, 2019
Hands-on DFT and beyondBarcelona, Spain, August 26 - September 6, 2019
▶   704. WE-Heraeus-Seminar "Exploring the Limits of Nanoscience with Scanning Probe Methods"Bad Honnef, Germany, 27-31 October 2019