The group employs state-of-the-art synthesis and characterization techniques, as well as computer modelling
(ranging from ab-initio techniques and classical atomistic simulations to coarse-grained continuum models) to
address the physics within the following areas:
Primarily due to their small size and high surface to volume ratio, nanoclusters exhibit highly interesting
properties - from a fundamental scientific point of view and for applications. We are currently synthesizing
novel types of tailored nanoclusters for biomedical applications employing inert gas condensation. As a vision,
they can possibly be employed as markers or drug-delivery systems to cure diseases.
Magnetic shape memory alloys
Magnetic shape memory alloy are an exciting new materials class, that can yield magnetically switchable strains
up to 10%. While bulk single crystals are already well established, we currently focus on miniaturization as
functional thin films and membranes. Grown by molecular beam epitaxy and ion beam assisted techniques, they are
subsequently lift-off the substrate for biomedical applications
Self-organized structure formation
Nanostructured surfaces and solids are desirable in a broad range of areas - ranging from data storage and
electronics to biomedical applications. While lithography constitutes the classical way of
synthesizing them, "smart" approaches utilize the intrinsic materials processes to regularly structure at the
nanoscale over macroscopic dimensions. Here we particularly use the concept of "driven systems", in which external
noise (materials deposition, iom or laser irradiation) drives the system out of equilibrium towards a patterned
Dynamics in complex fluids and glasses
The physics of glasses and liquids is generally considered one of the large unresolved problems in solid state
physics. Due to their intrinsic disorder, physical processes related to diffusion, viscous flow, electrical
conductivity and magnetism are much less understood than in crystals. This is also true for the physics of the
glass transition and melting / vitrification. We employ experiments and atomistic computer simulations for an
increased understanding within this field
Surface and nanoscale mechanical properties
Mechanical properties of surfaces fundamentally deviate from within a solid. Similarly, when considering the
nanoscale, mechanical response often proves to be different from macroscopic behavior. In contrast to its name,
"nanoindentation" is not capable of measuring at a nanoscale; thus different novel techniques are desirable.
Contact resonance atomic force microscopy (CR-AFM) constitutes such a technique, which is currently developed
within the group and applied on problems of surface and nanomechanics.
Mechanical properties of thin film systems
Mechanical properties of thin films are highly relevant within the broad range of thin film applications.
Stresses, for instance, can lead to thin-film failiure by delamination from the substrate. We explore intrinsic
mechanical stresses in thin film systems during synthesis, annealing, ion irradiation and phase transitions using
a sophisticated cantilever set up. The latter is also employed in a dynamic mode as "vibrating reed" to asses
elasticity, anelasticity and plasticity within thin film samples.
Interaction of surfaces with biological matter / biocompatiblity of surfaces
With the background of applying novel materials within the human body for tissue engineering or cure of diseases,
we optimize the interaction of cells and tissue with metallic and metal oxide surfaces of novel active implants.
This is realized by systematic surface treatments, including bioactive coatings and characterized by
simulated body fluid and cell viability tests.