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Research Department Functional Interfaces

Scientific Profile

The department deals with the investigation of light-responsive functional interfaces between solids and molecules. The interfaces are produced by means of planar nanotechnology and molecular nanotechnology and are characterized structurally, spectroscopically and electrochemically. The main focus of the work is the investigation of structure-dynamic-function relationships. The department spans the spectrum from the investigation of molecular systems, especially in complex environments, via thin (also molecular) layers and interfaces to functional components. Semiconductor and metal oxide nanostructures play a special role in this context. Their large surface-to-volume ratio predestines these structures for the adsorption of analyte molecules and thus for sensory applications in the field of medical and environmental analysis.

The figure shows a cuvette for femtosecond time-resolved transient absorption spectroelectrochemistry. The core of the cuvette is a drilled glassy carbon electrode, in whose bore high electrochemical conversions are generated and the generated species can be spectroscopied.
The department investigates photovoltaic active thin films on flexible substrates such as textiles. Application scenarios of this technology include energy conversion as well as the development of laser safety curtains.

Research topics

Time resolved and in situ spectroscopy

Spectroscopic methods for the characterization of electronically excited states are central approaches in our department. We develop in situ spectroscopic methods combining electrochemistry and optical spectroscopy, e.g. to investigate the photophysics of intermediates in electron transfer cascades.

Optically active molecular thin films

The control of optical and electronic material properties beyond molecular derivatization is realized in the department by supramolecular interface assembly. In situ spectroscopic and microscopic methods allow us to study the formation of films and their suitability for sensors and energy conversion systems.

Photoactive semiconductor nanostructures

We deal with dimensionally modified functional materials and interfaces. In particular, we investigate their functionalization and physical-chemical properties, their interaction with light and possible applications in light-driven hydrogen production.

Thin film technology

A broad scientific and technological basis in the field of thin film deposition, laser modification and nanostructuring enables the department to produce functional interfaces, tailor-made nanostructures and complex thin film systems for various investigations and applications.

Application fields

Molecularly functionalized photoresponsive interfaces

We investigate light-driven electron transfer processes at molecularly functionalized semiconductor interfaces used in dye-sensitized solar cells or in photoelectrochemical cells. The derivation of structure-dynamic-function relationships allows for the iterative optimization of such photoactive electrodes.

Smart Textiles

Functional surfaces, nanostructures and thin-film systems enable smart textiles for power generation, sensors safety applications and in the fields of medicine, life style and assistance systems.


Within the Collaborative Research Center CataLight (SFB/TRR 234) we investigate the functional mechanisms of molecular photocatalysts integrated into soft matter and the production of semiconductor nanostructures which, in combination with redox-active polymers, form self-regulating catalytically active membranes.

Organic Electronics

We investigate the influence of molecular functionalization and interfaces on the formation of supramolecular structures of optically and electronically active organic membranes. In this way, supramolecular control of optoelectronic functions in devices such as organic or hybrid solar cells and light emitting diodes is achieved.

ThinThin films for molecular sensorssensor applications

In nanometer-thin layers of molecular sensors, we control their supramolecular structure, which in turn determines the optical and electrical responses to analyte binding and communication with electronic semiconductor devices such as transistors or photodiodes.

Mode of action of light-activatable cytostatics

We are interested in the interaction between metal complexes, which are used as light-activatable cytostatic agents, and the complex environment inside human cells and theirimpact on photoinduced processes in the complexes. To this end, we are developing experiments that enable the investigation of ultrafast processes in the cells.

Porous silicon nanostructures for Nanomedicine

In vitro interaction studies of biocompatible and biodegradable porous silicon-nanostructures with cancer cells/tumors or biological systems (bacteria, viruses) are conducted using linear and nonlinear optical/spectral techniques. These results are providing the background for the implementation of silicon nanostructures as highly effective theranostics agent for personalized medicine.

Ultrafast Spectroscopy

Dr. Maria Wächtler

Semiconductor Nanostructures

Dr. Vladimir Sivakov

Photovoltaic Systems

Dr. Jonathan Plentz

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