Kohlenstoff Nanomaterialien
Molekulares Engineering
Funktionale Oberflächen
Atomistische Simulationen



Our research interests span over a wide range of topics at the interface of materials science, surface physics and chemistry, with a particular focus on low-dimensional organic & carbon-based materials. We follow different experimental approaches, but with a core activity on surface physical and chemical investigations, in particular by means of ultrahigh vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy/spectroscopy (STM/STS) and photoelectron-based methods such as XPS, UPS and XPD, which are complemented by theory and atomistic simulations.

Within the thematic focus Surface-Supported (Supra)Molecular Nanostructures we aim at achieving generally applicable principles of nanostructured organic device fabrication and function. By means of surface physical and chemical methods we investigate the fabrication, mechanisms and functionalities of self-assembled supramolecular nanostructures at solid surfaces. In this strongly interdisciplinary field of research, we closely collaborate with synthetic chemists and specialists in theory and modeling.

The surface properties of reasonably ‘simple’ materials have been studied for decades, but the surfaces of complex materials – e.g. intricately reconstructed, alloys or quasicrystals – still poses considerable scientific challenges. In the topic Functional Nanostructured Surfaces we strive at understanding the atomic and electronic surface structure of such materials in order to achieve specific functionalities. These can range from site specific molecule adsorption for template guided self-assembly to the understanding of surface physico-chemical properties of intermetallic compounds for higher selectivity in catalysis.

In a third topical area, Carbon-Based Nanomaterials, we currently focus our research to sp2 derived organic nanostructures. These structures encompass molecular nanographenes (zero dimensional structure), carbon nanotubes and nanoribbons (1D structure) and porous graphene (2D structure). We put particular emphasis on engineering the electronic properties of these materials, which we achieve either by bottom-up synthesis of particular, structurally precise atomic configurations or by local modification using structural defects or chemical functionalization. In this research area we are also heavily involved in technology transfer to industry, e.g. carbon nanotubes as electron field emitters or synthesis of ultranarrow graphene nanoribbons.

We are convinced that the complexity of today’s scientific and technological challenges asks for integrative approaches, for looking at a given problem from different perspectives, for tackling scientific questions using a wide range of complementary methods. Therefore, all our research topics are approached not only using various experimental methods, but also a wide range of atomistic simulations. We exploit both the most advanced methods aimed at a complete characterization of the energetics and kinetics of surface chemical reactions, and the most recent extensions to density functional theory to faithfully describe the electronic and transport properties at the nanoscale.


nanotech@surfaces Laboratory

Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for

Materials Science & Technology

Ueberlandstrasse 129

8600 Duebendorf


How to find us :

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Prof. Dr. Roman Fasel, Head of Laboratory

Dr. Oliver Gröning, Deputy head

Ms. Christine Tran, Head assistant

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