Nanostructures - an overview

Nanostructures are systems made up of atoms or molecules with dimensions in the order of a billionth of a metre. However, the various nanostructures do not only have their small dimensions in common, but also their special physical, chemical and biological properties. With the targeted preparation and analysis of such systems, completely new materials with tailor-made characteristics and functions can be realized. Nanostructures are therefore a highly interesting, interdisciplinary and forward-looking field of research for basic research as well as for numerous applications (be it in information technology, materials science, biosensorics, molecular biology or medical diagnostics). Dedecated to this is the scientific centre of the University of Kassel, the

Center for Interdisciplinary Nanostructure Science and Technology - CINSaT.

The Institutes of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Nanostructure Technology and Analytics (INA) and the Departments of Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Philosophy work closely together in interdisciplinary research projects to advance basic research in this field, to help shape an important future technology and to contribute to strengthening Hessen as a high-tech location through efficient technology transfer.

Motivation and goals

Nanostructure sciences are not only one of the most scientifically up-to-date and exciting fields of research, but also form the basis for one of the key technologies of the 21st century. Worldwide, comprehensive research activities prove the immense importance of research and development in this field. The objective of the interdisciplinary Center for Interdisciplinary Nanostructure Science and Technology concentrates on two major topics:

  1. In close cooperation with scientists from the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology and electrical engineering, novel nanostructures are to be produced, their extraordinary properties examined and - as far as possible - the use of research results promoted in cooperation with industrial partners. It is planned to explore new ways of synthesizing nanostructures, whereby the classical lithographic processes are less important than self-organizing and light-induced processes. In the mesocosm of nanostructures, biological construction principles and growth processes are to serve as models, while supramolecular chemistry methods, i.e. self-organizing aggregation through molecular recognition, are to serve as instruments. The measurement of molecular forces in biomolecules and the investigation of their dynamics is also an important sub-area. Another important aspect will be the combination of inorganic and organic materials and their linking and structuring at the molecular level up to the interaction of classical semiconductor electronics and living matter.
  2. A further important area of activity is the further development and application of methods for characterizing nanostructures with the highest time and spatial resolution in parallel with the production of nanostructures. On the one hand, imaging high-resolution scanning probe microscopes and, on the other hand, modern optical methods up to the development of "nano-optics" play a decisive role. Examples are interface-specific optical frequency doubling, confocal microscopy, multiphoton microscopy, optical near-field microscopy and time-resolved ultra-short time methods with femtosecond laser pulses. In this context, it should be noted that, according to worldwide consensus, optical methods will play a key technological role in the new century with similar economic relevance to electronic techniques in the 20th century.

The Research Centre has also set itself the goal of offering courses with new, promising curricula, in particular an interdisciplinary diploma course in "Nanostructure Science - Nanostructure and Molecular Science". The orientation and concept of the Center for Interdisciplinary Nanostructure Science and Technology at the University of Kassel differs significantly from other research foci in the field of nanostructure science, which can be traced back almost exclusively to the initiative of individual departments, in particular physics departments. In contrast, the Kassel Centre focuses on the interdisciplinary character of the research area from the very beginning.

Original Text (German) by Prof. Dr. Frank Träger