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The properties of novel materials and structures are often determined by physical phenomena that are specific to the nanoscale and distinct from bulk properties in the macroscopic world. In nanoscale structures, the importance of surfaces, internal interfaces and quantum effects increases, resulting in new properties that can have high scientific, technological, and economic potential. A thorough understanding of the atomic and molecular building blocks of such systems is required to achieve further progress. Atomic resolution characterisation therefore has a decisive impact on the following scientific research fields:

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Solid state physics and chemistry

Rapid developments in current and future technologies require that relevant physical phenomena are understood and engineered on the atomic level. Two examples are provided by silicon CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) technology and catalysts.

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Materials science

Materials can act as technology enablers and offer solutions to global challenges and industrial progress. There is an increasing requirement for applications, which provide a challenge for the development of new materials. Prototypical examples of new technologies that require the highly precise examination of atomic structures are found in energy research, e. g. for improvements in energy efficiency or the realisation of new energy conversion and storage technologies.

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Strukturbiologie (ER-C-3)

Soft matter

New chemical methods and technologies enable the synthesis of molecular and polymeric nanomaterials with novel functionalities. Applications range from structural materials and electronic switching elements to catalysts and biocompatible materials. All high spatial resolution characterisation methods face challenges when they are applied to such materials because of potential damage.

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Life sciences

We use an integrated structural electron microscopy approach to study the biological structures of membrane-associated protein complexes.

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