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:

Nanoclusters

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 steady state.

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.