New DFG Collaborative Research Center decodes molecular chirality
Understanding and manipulation of the mirror image effect of the molecules – that is the aim of a large Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) initiated at the University of Kassel at the beginning of this year. On 27th November the German Research Society “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft“ (DFG) announced that the Collaborative Research Centre 1319 „Extreme light for sensing and driving molecular chirality“ (ELCH) will be set up and coordinated by the scientists from the University of Kassel. This decision is of great importance for the research profile of the north-hessian University.
It is crucial not only for the fundamental research but also for the medical and life sciences to understand the ‚handedness’, which means that two molecules made up of the same atoms could have a mirror-inverted structure. Thus, depending on its structure, one chemical can be poisonous in one version and a medicine in another. The Kassel research group intends to analyse and eventually manipulate and reverse the chirality or ‚handedness‘ of the molecules. For that reason, the molecules will be treated with extreme laser pulses and captured by means of the state-of-the-art detection tools. The worldwide first purely light-driven gas phase laboratory will be set up as part of this research project.
In the coming four years the DFG will fund the Collaborative Research Centre with approximately 9 million Euro. After that, it is possible to extend the funding for another two periods amounting to 12 years in total. Prof. Thomas Baumert, the head of the femtosecond spectroscopy and laser pulses research area, was appointed as the CRC speaker. Seven professorships at the University of Kassel and further partners including the Deutsche Elektronensynchrotron (DESY) Hamburg, the Philipps-University Marburg and the Goethe-University Frankfurt are involved in the CRC.
The president of the University of Kassel, Prof. Reiner Finkeldey, congratulated the involved scientists: „It is a great success, which shows that leading researcher networks, which are competitive both on a national and an international level, have formed at our university – a DFG Collaborative Research Centre is seen as a top team of the national league.“ Finkeldey emphasised: „The decision of the DFG encourages the university’s policy to provide better support to the scientists in their goal of initiating research projects, which in turn improves the research profile of the university.“
The team around Prof. Baumert can continue its research based on the results achieved as part of the LOEWE-Project on the molecular chirality. The State of Hesse supports the internationally significant research networks through the LOEWE Program. „It was an important step for the further development of the infrastructure of the institute of physics“, emphasised Prof. Arno Ehresmann, vice president for research and experimental physicist at the same time. „We plan to use the existing clusters to initiate bigger projects also in the other faculties”.
CRC speaker Prof. Baumert said: „In the past few years we, at the Institute of Physics and the Institute of Chemistry together with the other cooperating partners, have acquired an unsurpassed amount of knowledge on the topic of chirality. Furthermore, we have the most advanced tools of the atom- and molecular physics as well as optics and quantum optics at our disposal. We will use this to establish the leading international science centre for the light-driven physics of chiral molecules in the gas phase”.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Baumert
Institut für Physik
Area of speciality Femtosecond spectroscopy and ultra-fast laser control
Tel.: +49 (0)561 804-4452