Research group: Molecular Surface Science (MSS)

Molecular Surface Science (MSS)

Any future artificial transporters and robots operating at the nanoscale are likely to require molecules capable of directional translational movement over a surface. Even the design of such molecules is a daunting task, however, as they need to be able to use light, chemical or electrical energy to modulate their interaction with the surface in a way that generates directional motion. Our collaborators from Groningen now unveil just such a molecule, made by attaching four rotary motor units to a central axis. Inelastic electron tunneling, performed in Empa’s Molecular Surface Science Group, induces conformational changes in the rotors and propels the molecule across a copper surface. By changing the direction of the rotary motion of individual motor units, the self-propelling molecular 'four-wheeler' structure can follow random or preferentially linear trajectories. This design provides a starting point for the exploration of more sophisticated molecular mechanical systems, perhaps with complete control over their direction of motion.

This work has been presented as one motivation for 2016 Chemistry Nobelprize by the prize committee in Stockholm!

Radio Interview Chemistry Nobelprize (in german)


Chemistry Nobelprize 2016 in the local news

Example: Gattaler Dübendorf

MSS in the media 


  List of publications


     + People

       - Head of group:
         Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Ernst 
- List of publications
        - CV
        - We make molecules dance
        - Verhaltensforscher für

        - Interview with JPhys+

       + Postprof:
      Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Rieder

       + Scientific staff:
      - Dr. Manfred Parschau

       + Postdoc: 
      - Christian Wäckerlin
      - Jan Berger 
       - Milos Baljozovic

      + Ph.D students:
       - Gitika Srivastava
        - Bahaaeddin Irziqat
        - Jan Voigt

        - Aleksandra Cebrat

        + Guest Scientists
        - Prof. Dr. Georg Koller,
          U. Graz,
        - Dr. Tibor Kuderac,
          U. Groningen, 2010

       - Former Group Members

       + Collaborators

       + Job offers

       - PhD students
       - Postdocs

       + Events
        - Kalle at the Bürgenstock
          Conference, Brunnen 2009
        - MSS Group@SAOG 2011
        - Impressions from Chirality
           2014 in Prague

        - Andreas graduated (1/2015)

        - Chrysa’s farewell

      + Mission statement