DEPARTMENT OF
PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY
DEPARTMENT OF 
PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY
Research Activity in the Department
The research of the Department of Physical Chemistry focusses on the dynamics of elementary processes at surfaces, interfaces and in solids aiming at a microscopic understanding of the coupling between various (electronic, spin and lattice) degrees of freedom and mechanistic insights into selected dynamic phenomena like ultrafast phase transitions, excited state dynamics or single molecule reactions at surfaces. We follow the strategy to address these problems from several sides using complementary approaches, in particular by the development and application of various time- or spatial-resolved spectroscopic techniques dedicated to the specific physical questions. The research in the department is performed by small teams with specific, often complementary expertise, creating various synergies between the different groups.
Ultrafast dynamics of elementary processes

Ultrafast dynamics of elementary processes in solids and at interfaces with specific focus on the interactions between electrons, phonons and spins: This line of research addresses the dynamics of elementary processes on their relevant time scales, employing ultrafast laser spectroscopy (with, typically, femtosecond time resolution). Both existing and newly developed spectroscopic techniques are used to study the electronic structure, excited state dynamics, optically induced phase transitions and low-energy excitations including lattice dynamics and spin dynamics in solids and at interfaces.

Molecular processes at interfaces and in condensed phase

Molecular processes at interfaces and in condensed phase systems including gas-solid, liquid-solid as well as electrochemical interfaces and liquids: Here scanning probe micro- scopy – in part combined with optical excitation or light scattering – is used for imaging, manipulation and spectroscopy as well as inducing and probing chemical processes of indivi- dual molecules. Furthermore, nonlinear optical sum-frequency and high field THz spectro- scopy provides insights into the molecular structure at interfaces and into the dynamics of liquids. In particular, with these activities we implement the new direction of the FHI for the evolution of the institute into the next decade towards atomistic studies of processes at complex interfaces (i.e. beyond gas-solid in UHV) including liquid-solid, liquid-gas and electrochemical interfaces.

Methods

We investigate solids, interfaces, surfaces and molecules with high spatial and/or time resolution by using a variety of methods.

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Activity Reports