Prof. Dr. Franziska Gröhn
A variety of fascinating structures and functions in natural systems such as cell membranes or DNA-protein complexes is realized by supramolecular structures, that is, the non-covalent connection of building units. Therefore, great potential lies in synthetic structure design through self-assembly. The prospect is a simple way to build complex architectures with tailored properties, and large advantage is the capability for rearrangements, leading to responsive and switchable systems. Exciting potential lies in areas as nanoelectronics, molecular machines or smart drug carriers.
Another “secret” of natural systems is the use of organic-inorganic hybrid nanostructures to optimize material properties, for example sea shells or shark teeth being stable but light. It is thus exciting to investigate the formation of synthetic hybrid structures, for example by polymer templating, which can lead to nanoparticles with special optical, electrical or magnetic properties.
With these inspirations in mind, from my point of view, major key is to develop fundamental understanding of underlying principles of self-assembly and particle formation. This means that organic synthesis of desired building blocks plays a role in our group, while it is also crucial to characterize nanoscale structures by a combination of analytical methods, ranging from microscopy to scattering methods, including instrumental developments.