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Peter Grünberg Institut (PGI)
Functional Nanostructures at Surfaces (PGI-3)

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ERC StG group of C. Wagner

We are home to the ERC-funded research group of Christian Wagner which strives to enable controlled mechanical manipulation of molecules with an SPM.

Group Page of C.Wagner at PGI-3

The idea to freely control the atomic-scale structure of matter has intrigued scientists for many decades. The low-temperature scanning probe microscope (LT SPM) is ideally suited for this task since it allows the rearrangement of atoms and molecules on a surface. There is, however, no generic SPM-based method for the manipulation of molecules beyond lateral rearrangement yet. The goal of the Wagner group is to develop controlled mechanical manipulation of molecules (CM³) in which a LT SPM is used to handle large organic molecules in three dimensions with optimal control over position, orientation and shape.
We exploit the capabilities of the molecular manipulation lab (MoMaLab), which already allows intuitive and fast manipulation of molecules using motion tracking and a fully immersive head-mounted display (Oculus rift). The grand challenge that we will address in our group is a method to identify the precise molecular conformations in real time during manipulation from measured data. To this end we pursue an interdisciplinary approach that combines molecular simulations, machine learning, control theory, and newly developed AFM instruments.
CM³ could become a game-changing technique for research on molecular properties and molecular-scale engineering, because it will combine fully deterministic manipulation with broad access to molecular degrees of freedom. We plan to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in experiments that advance our understanding in the field of molecular electronics and our ability to assemble nanostructures from individual molecules, even in the third dimension.