Chemical Approaches to Nanoscience

Organic synthesis enables the precise generation of functional molecular building blocks and constitutes the basis of chemical approaches that our group is developing to address current challenges in materials science. We are convinced that the design of custom-tailored molecular nano-objects and their integration into functional nanosized structures will be key to the future bottom-up fabrication of miniaturized devices and the creation of new responsive “smart” materials.
Our work is primarily devoted on the synthesis of molecules and their covalent and non-covalent assemblies with defined dimensions, shape, and properties. Particular focus is on the further development and exploitation of photoswitchable units to externally control and drive molecular functions and processes by exploiting the superior spatio-temporal resolution of the light. Complementing our synthetic efforts, we investigate structure-property relationships of the resulting materials on both the single molecule and the ensemble levels in solution and in the bulk, yet in particular at interfaces.

Check out our group research either as a poster (Fall 2013) or summary (Fall 2011) in German (only).

Read the Angewandte Chemie author profile about SH (Summer 2011) in either English or German.

Read short interview in Adlershofer Kluge Köpfe / Adlershof Great Minds in English & German.

Watch interview with SH (Fall 2010) in German (only).

What We Do

Our main efforts are directed towards:
  • Surface-confined chemistry: Controlling conformation, self-assembly, and chemical reactivity (switching and covalent bond formation) of individual molecules and their assemblies on solid substrates for nanoconstruction, molecular-scale electronics, and sensing.
  • Remote-controlling function: Developing photoresponsive (switchable and triggerable) reactive and catalytically active systems as well as charge-transporters for spatially and temporally resolved chemistry, signal amplification, and smart materials.
  • Optomechanics: Designing various light-driven macromolecular systems (foldamers and rigid rods) that exploit cooperative phenomena (either folding and aggregation, respectively) to directly and efficiently convert light into motion.
A poster summarizing our research activities is provided here. For more information see our research highlight section and read our publications.


Welcome Alexis, Derk Jan and Anne
The effect of bridge fluorination on ladder oligo(para-phenylene)s
Remote-controlling a dynamic covalent equilibrium by light
Photoswitches for remote-controlling chemistry
Maria successfully defended her dissertation
Controlling the unfolding pathway in photoswitchable foldamers
Rendering TTF donor moieties photoswitchable
Controlling charge recombination with light
Elucidating foldamer structure by VCD
Exploring sequence-switch-folding relationship in multi-azobenzene foldamers
Zhilin successfully defended his dissertation
Volker and Erik successfully defended their dissertation
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  • molecular design and organic synthesis
  • macromolecular, supramolecular, and surface chemistry
  • single molecules, surface confinement
  • materials science, nanotechnology, and molecular devices