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NIM nanosystems initiative munich

LMU’s New Institute: Overlooking the English Garden

Nano Institute on Königinstrasse. Picture: LMU

LMU's new Nano Institue on Königinstrasse was officially opened on 17. June 2019. Its research staff will seek novel ways of exploiting the unique properties of nanomaterials to enhance the efficiency of energy generation and storage.

Immortal quantum particles

Strong quantum interactions prevent quasiparticles from decay. Image: K. Verresen (TUM)

Decay is relentless in the macroscopic world: broken objects do not fit themselves back together again. However, other laws are valid in the quantum world: new research shows that so-called quasiparticles can decay and reorganize themselves again and are thus become virtually immortal.

Black nanoparticles slow the growth of tumors

Infrared thermal image (right) shows elevated tumor (yellow) temperature in mice after laser irradiation in with OMV-melanin treated mice. The image on the left shows a mouse treated with OMVs without melanin. Image: V. Gujrati (TUM)

The dark skin pigment melanin protects us from the sun’s damaging rays by absorbing light energy and converting it to heat. Scientists around Prof. Vasilis Ntziachristos managed to create melanin-loaded cell membrane derived nanoparticles, which improved tumor imaging in an animal model while also slowing the growth of the tumor.

Stable majorities

Rifted rocks riddled with water-filled pores and steep temperature gradients: Prebiotic informational biomolecules could have been formed in such a setting at the dawn of life. Image: D. Braun

How could prebiotic information-bearing DNA sequences survive in the face of competition from a vast excess of shorter molecules with random sequences? LMU scientists now show that a relatively simple mechanism could have done the trick.

NIM member Erwin Frey holds Kavli Chair 2019

The NIM scientist Prof. Dr. Erwin Frey (LMU) receives the prestigious Kavli Chair of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience of the TU Delft.

One transistor for all purposes

Image by Christoph Hohmann, Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM)

Be it in a mobile, fridge or plane - transistors are everywhere. But often they are specialized for only one current range. Prof. Thomas Weitz (NIM) and his team have now developed a nanoscopic transistor of organic semiconductor material that is working perfectly at low and high currents.

Force for activation

Schematic of the focal adhesion kinase. Figure: M. Bauer (LMU)

Tumor invasion and metastasis are major problems in the therapy of cancer patients. NIM scientists around Prof. Hermann Gaub and collaboration partners in Madrid and Heidelberg now elucidated the activation conditions for a key enzyme in this process – a step forward in the development of new therapeutic strategies.

Cells in a tight spot

Breast cancer cell squeezing across a thin constriction

Migrating cancer cells must overcome physical barriers such as tight pores in finely meshed tissues. A recent study by a team of NIM biophysicists provides a new theory to describe how cells manoeuvre such confining environments.

Happy about noise

White noise signal (Wikipedia)

Noise for physicists means nothing but trouble: unspecific signals, interfering frequencies and low
measurement sensitivity. Scientists from the Universities of Augsburg and Hannover now discovered that noise can be extremely useful – for example in quantum mechanics.

No support needed

Artists view of freely suspended organic semiconductor thin film (selected front cover in Advanced Materials). Picture: C. Hohmann (NIM)

For the development of new semiconducting devices, the properties of the material need to be clarified. Ideally, the analysis is done without supporting substrate distorting the measurements. The NIM scientists Prof Thomas Weitz and Prof Achim Hartschuh are now able to fabricate freely suspended ultrathin organic semiconductor films.

Valleytronics at room temperature

Fröhlich exciton-phonon coupling. Picture: U. Wurstbauer (Uni Münster)

Essential in the development of new ultrathin information carriers is the stabilization of the excited state, which carries the information. The NIM physicists Prof Ursula Wurstbauer, Prof Alexander Holleitner and Prof Alexander Högele now found a tunable method, even at room temperature.

New EU consortium for new gene therapies

Gene editing. Image: Jürgen Fälchle /stock.adobe.com

The NIM scientist Prof Ernst Wagner coordinates the working package “Tailor gene-delivery strategies” within the new EU project “UPGRADE: Unlocking Precision Gene Therapy”. Together with Dr Ulrich Lächelt he will optimize the non-viral delivery of new and precise gene-editing tools.

Models of life

Signal molecules (blue) spread in the artificial cell structure and allow communication through the membranes.

Friedrich Simmel und Aurore Dupin, researchers at the TUM, have for the first time created artificial cell assemblies that can communicate with each other. The cells, separated by fatty membranes, exchange small chemical signaling molecules to trigger more complex reactions, such as the production of RNA and other proteins.

Delayed adaptation favors coexistence

Soil bacteria must be able to adapt to varying environmental conditions. – But a new study by LMU researchers indicates that rapid adaptation can be counterproductive, while delayed adjustment facilitates coexistence of different species.

Alexander Högele receives ERC Proof of Concept Grant

Prof. Alexander Högele. Picture: C. Hohmann

The NIM biophysicist Prof Alexander Högele won a Proof of Concept Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) for the development of a "cavity-enhanced optical microscope". This new project is based on his work on new microscopy technologies which were already funded by the ERC with Starting and Consolidator Grants.

In Memoriam Markus-Christian Amann

Professor Markus-Christian Amann. Picture: TUM

Prof. Markus-Christian Amann passed away unexpectedly on 23 November 2018 at the age of 67 years. Until April 2018 he was Full Professor for Semiconductor Technology at TUM and Director of the Walter Schottky Institut. Professor Amann was member of NIM since its foundation in 2007. We will always keep him in honorable memory.

Tim Liedl receives ERC Consolidator Grant

Tim Liedl. Picture: C. Hohmann

Prof. Tim Liedl was awarded with an ERC Consolidator Grant for his project on "DNA-based functional lattices". It is the second ERC Grant in the career of the NIM biophysicist whose research focusses on DNA origami and the applications of this technique.

New Honors for Peter Hänggi

Prof Dr Dr h.c. mult. Picture: P. Hänggi

Prof Dr Dr h.c. mult. Peter Hänggi was awarded two important honors: The NIM-physicist received the Smoluchowski-Warburg-Prize 2019 of the German Physical Society (DPG) and was appointed Honorary Professor of the Huaqiao University in China.

Viruses attack bacteria

Winner Team. Picture: G. Westmeyer (TUM)

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are on rise. Help comes from their natural enemies, the bacteriophages. Students from LMU and TU München, also from the group of NIM-scientist Prof. Friedrich Simmel, have developed a new method for their production. Their project was awarded with the second place in the renowned global iGEM competition.

Viral RNA Sensing

Very sensitive virus detection. Image: Wiley VCH

Even tiny amounts of viruses can have disastrous consequences. RNA identification can reveal the type of virus present. A fast and sensitive technique based on optical detection has now been outlined by researchers around the NIM biophysicist Prof Tim Liedl.

The Future of NanoScience

Poster Session at the rose garden of the Evangelische Akademie Tutzing

The NIM Conference “The Future of NanoScience” provided a platform for vivid discussions about the development and news in this exciting field. Research topics of participating scientists span from quantum nanophysics over nanosystems for energy conversion towards biomolecular and biomedical nanotechnologies.

Tiny technologies with enormous impact

Hendrik Dietz, Professor of Biomolecular Nanotechnology, during his TEDxTUM lecture. Picture: V. Braun (TEDxTUM)

The TEDx conference stands for short presentations that are attended online by millions of people worldwide. Since 2014, this format is also offered at the TUM. The presentation of Prof. Hendrik Dietz and other speakers of this year's event on "Tiny Superpowers" are now available online.

Measuring the nanoworld

Researchers from around the world established a benchmark for the FRET technology by measuring distances within DNA molecules with sub-nanometer precision. Source: Hugo Sanabria, Nandakumar Chedikulathu Vishnu/Universität Clemson

Researchers establish a benchmark for the accurate determination of internal dimensions within individual molecules.

Pile-ups in protein transport

Filament. Image: E. Frey

Motor proteins in cells can move along protein filaments in ways that interfere with each other’s progress. A new model developed by LMU physicists shows how this can lead to gridlock, even when there is still plenty of empty space.

All-in-one light-driven water splitting

The new catalyst system functions as a multifunctional tool for splitting water. Image: C. Hohmann

Solar-powered water splitting is a promising means of generating clean and storable energy. A novel catalyst based on semiconductor nanoparticles has now been shown to facilitate all the reactions needed for “artificial photosynthesis”.


The Pom cluster locates in the middle of the nucleoid and thus determines the plane of division. Fluorescence microscope image of a M. xanthus cell with the nucleoid in blue and the Pom cluster in red. Image: L. Søgaard-Andersen, MPIterMic

Rod-shaped bacterial cells normally divide by constriction midway along their long axis. LMU physicists have developed a theoretical model to explain how Myxococcus xanthus localizes the plane of division to mid-cell.

Surface Acoustic Waves Orchestrate Neuronal Networks

Neuronal cells on a biochip. The applied acoustic wave field influences not only the position of the cell but also the growth of neuronal outgrowths which connect these cells. Picture: C. Hohmann

Biophysicists from Augsburg and Santa Barbara report in Physical Review E on the first successful outcome in the targeted dynamic positioning of nerve cells on a chip. The proven Augsburg surface acoustic wave technology now opens up new ways of understanding and influencing neuronal networks.

It’s getting hot in here, why don’t you change your twist

Single-molecule magnetic tweezers set-up. Picture: F. Kriegel

Increasing temperature changes the twist of the DNA helix. To quantify this process, an international team of researchers led by the biophysicist Prof Jan Lipfert applied single-molecule magnetic tweezers measurements and extensive computer simulations to DNA molecules.

Lattice vibrations boost photoluminescence

Reconstruction of the photoresponse of a thin-film tungsten diselenide bilayer. Source: C. Hohmann, Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM)

NIM physicists have characterized in detail the optical response of semiconducting tungsten diselenide bilayer crystals and explained their distinctive spectral signatures. Owing to their intriguing physical properties, ultrathin 2D materials have become a major focus of research in nanoscience.

Wave fronts and ant trails

Wave fronts and ant trails can emerge under the same starting conditions and coexist with one another. Image: L. Huber, LMU

NIM physicists investigating spontaneous pattern formation in a model system that includes motile proteins have discovered hitherto unobserved phenomena. Their findings afford new insights into biological processes.

Towards femtosecond on-chip electronics

Figure: Photoemission of electrons in plasmonic metal antennas. Picture: C Karnetzky

Plasmonic metal antennas allow localizing and enhancing light on a nanometer scale – and also the generation of ultrafast electric pulses in macroscopic circuits, as NIM physicist Prof Alexander Holleitner and colleagues could now demonstrate by utilizing the effect of electron photoemission.

Nanosystems NEWS – New issue

Nanosystems NEWS June 2018

The new issue of the NIM Newsletter “Nanosystems NEWS” is out now! It presents an overview over the various NIM events during the last year and provides insights into the exiting research on quantum sensors, diffusion processes, new ways of energy generation and smart drug carriers. In a new series, we discuss the family support programs of NIM.

Emergence of Life

SFB/TRR 235: Emergence of life: Explorating mechanisms with cross-disciplinary experiments. Picture: D Braun

In the new Collaborative Research Centre TRR 235 “Emergence of life: Explorating mechanisms with cross-disciplinary experiments”, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), several NIM scientists will explore this thrilling question under the lead of Prof Dieter Braun.

Supertetrahedra Lego for future batteries

T5/T5-type sodium phosphidosilcate supertetrahedron. Picture: A. Hatz

New sodium-based all-solid-state batteries could enable future energy storage devices using only the easy-to-access, cheap and earth abundant elements Na, Si and P. By shaping them into sodium phosphidosilicates containing large supertetrahedral entities, Prof Dirk Johrendt and NIM scientist Prof Bettina Lotsch generated solid electrolytes with very high ionic conductivity.

Targeting cancer cells with sugars

Nanocarriers binding the mannose receptor. Picture: C Hohmann

Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of death, also because the efficiency of chemotherapeutics is inadequate due to poor delivery to the tumor. NIM scientist Prof Olivia Merkel and her team develop targeted nanocarrier systems to increase the delivery rates of therapeutic formulations and their specific uptake into the target cells.

Hendrik Dietz receives ERC Proof of Concept Grant

Professor Hendrik Dietz. Picture: TUM

The European Research Council awards the NIM biophysicist Prof Hendrik Dietz with an ERC Proof of Concept Grant. In this new project, he aims to develop a “Nanodevice” to measure the kinetic properties of molecular reactions using an inexpensive, simple and reliable device.

Optical “overtones” for solar cells

"Solar guitar". Picture: PhOG (LMU)

Analogous to a phenomenon known for music instruments when overtones of two different fundamental notes get into resonance, NIM scientists have found a new effect regarding the optical excitation of charge carriers in a solar semiconductor. It could facilitate the use of infrared light, which is normally lost in solar devices.

Making patterns robust

Experimentally observed protein pattern. Picture: S Kretschmer (Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry)

Correct protein localization is crucial for many fundamental cellular processes. The NIM scientists Prof Erwin Frey and Prof Petra Schwille have now asked how to confer robustness against variations in protein concentrations on pattern formation mechanisms.

Sino-German Young Researcher Symposium in Munich

Nanocarrier formulation. Picture: C Hohmann

The Sino-German Young Researcher Symposium on “Nanopharmaceuticals: Drug Delivery in the Nanoscale” in Munich was organized by Dr Ulrich Lächelt (LMU) and Prof Rongqin Huang (Fudan University, Shanghai) to promote the scientific exchange between young scientists from China and Germany, working on new nanocarrier formulations and drug delivery.

Dynamics of microtubules

Molecular motors walking along a microtubule. Image: M. Rank/PRL

Filamentous polymers called microtubules play vital roles in chromosome segregation and molecular transport. NIM scientist Prof Erwin Frey and coworkers have now examined how microtubule lengths vary in response to changes in the availability of their protein components.

Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Integrated quantum photonics in silicon chips

Prof Dr Carsten Schuck, Physics Institute, Center for NanoTechnology & Center for Soft Nanoscience, University of Münster, Germany


Friday, 12 April, 2019

Bisacylphosphane oxides as photo-latent cytostatic agents and potential…

Scientific Reports 9:6003 (2019)


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