Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Light and matter

10.05.2012
Chemists and physicists are collaborating within a new research group at the University of Würzburg. Their stated objective is to enable the manufacture of new materials with customized properties. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the project.

Is this what the energy source of the future will look like? Specially synthesized molecules split water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen, with the help of sunlight. The plan is for this process, which occurs in nature as “photosynthesis”, to be replicated in the laboratory to free the world from its dependency on fossil fuels. This artificial photosynthesis should supply mankind with a virtually inexhaustible and clean energy carrier.

Unfortunately, the dream of artificial photosynthesis as an energy supplier on a grand scale is still a long way off becoming a reality. Scientists have yet to acquire the necessary knowledge concerning the fundamental processes inside potential hydrogen producers. However, a new research group at the University of Würzburg is about to start work on this, bringing together scientists from various branches of physics and chemistry. Its spokesman is Professor Tobias Brixner, Chairman of the Department of Physical Chemistry I. The German Research Foundation (DFG) will be providing around EUR 2.3 million in funding for the project over the next three years.

New materials with specific properties

Molecular aggregates and their reactions to light will be the main focus of the Würzburg research group. “We will examine the interaction between light and matter with a view to understanding and controlling the dynamic processes and optical phenomena,” says Brixner. It is hoped that their findings will enable the scientists to customize new materials with specific properties.

Of course, facilitating the breakthrough of artificial photosynthesis will be just one of the goals with these new materials. Extremely energy-efficient light sources, tap-proof encryption technology, super-fast quantum computers, effective photovoltaic elements, nano-components that can repair themselves: these will all be conceivable once the fundamental processes in the molecular aggregates have been clarified and understood.

Research on molecular aggregates

Molecular aggregates: chemists understand these as the smallest building blocks in macroscopic systems such as liquids, solutions, or crystals. Inside these, molecules are arranged in specific structures with strong or weak links binding them. The diverse interactions between the individual blocks determine what happens inside the aggregates when light falls on them.

“What makes molecular aggregates so special and therefore appealing compared, for example, to inorganic solids is the fact that the properties of these molecular ‘basic building blocks’ can be varied deliberately,” explains Brixner. Changes at the microscopic level result in changes on a macroscopic scale as well. Though, the exact processes are still unknown. “In the past, although scientists went to great lengths examining countless molecules optically, there was generally no systematic variation of aggregates,” says Brixner. In many cases, therefore, current knowledge is inadequate for a prediction of the properties of a complex system based on the properties of the underlying molecular building blocks.

Better understanding of internal processes

This is where the work of the Würzburg research group will begin: the group will spend the next three years closely studying the interactions between light and matter in molecular aggregates. “Once we are familiar with the fundamental rules of the interactions, it should be possible to produce a new generation of materials that exceed those we have today,” states Brixner.

The Würzburg research group possesses the knowledge and technology required for this research. Its members come from the fields of theoretical, physical, and organic chemistry as well as experimental physics; they have the necessary expertise in all the requisite research methods and in the respective equipment – ranging from spectroscopy to photoconductivity measurement. The bundling of available experimental and theoretical resources will enable “unique cooperative research in the area of light-matter interaction”.

The members of the research group are as follows:

from Physical and Theoretical Chemistry:
• Prof. Dr. Tobias Brixner
• Prof. Dr. Volker Engel
• Prof. Dr. Bernd Engels
from Organic Chemistry:
• Prof. Dr. Christoph Lambert
• Prof. Dr. Frank Würthner
from Experimental Physics:
• Prof. Dr. Vladimir Dyakonov
• PD Dr. Carsten Deibel
• Prof. Dr. Jens Pflaum
as well as the following associated junior researchers:
• Dr. Florian Beuerle
• Dr. Gustavo Fernández
• Dr. Patrick Nürnberger
The German Research Foundation (DFG) has decided to set up a total of six new research groups and one clinical research group. These research consortia should provide scientists with the opportunity to “address current and urgent issues in their fields and to develop new methods for tackling them”, according to a DFG press release. The foundation currently funds 191 research groups.
Contact
Prof. Dr. Tobias Brixner, T: +49 (0)931 31-86330, e-mail: brixner@phys-chemie.uni-wuerzburg.de

Gunnar Bartsch | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-wuerzburg.de

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New design improves performance of flexible wearable electronics
23.06.2017 | North Carolina State University

nachricht Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics
22.06.2017 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>