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NIM nanosystems initiative munich

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)

LMU 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

Biophysics - LMU 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 from LMU Munich 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.

Feeling the tension: Cells contract the matrix to modify its stiffness

Human breast cancer cells (blue) inside a collagen fiber matrix (green). The cells contract to strongly pull on the fiber matrix. Picture: C. Broedersz

Living cells inside a tissue can pull on their environment. NIM biophysicist Prof Chase Broedersz and colleagues demonstrated that this cellular pulling dramatically enhances the stiffness of the surrounding matrix. They developed a new method - the Nonlinear Stress Interference Microscopy (NSIM) - to measure elastic interactions between cells and the extracellular matrix.

Dieter Braun receives ERC Advanced Grant

Professor Dieter Braun

The NIM scientist Prof Dieter Braun is exploring the Origins of Life. For his new research project on the “Mechanisms of emergence and replication of primary sequence information of life in the geothermic microfluidics of the early earth”, the biophysicist receives an ERC Advanced Grant worth 2.5 million euro.

Bacterial adhesion in vitro and in silico

This figure shows how the staphylococcal adhesion protein (in green) interacts with its cognate peptide ligand (red). Picture: H. Gaub

Researchers around the NIM scientist Prof Hermann Gaub have characterized the physical mechanism that enables a widespread bacterial pathogen to adhere to the tissues of its human host.

Müller-Buschbaum is the new Scientific Director of the FRM II

Professor Peter Müller-Buschbaum

NIM scientist Prof Müller-Buschbaum will be the new scientific director of the worldwide most powerful neutron research facility FRM II in Garching as from 1 April 2018.

Leibniz Gründerpreis 2018 for Heinrich Leonhardt

Prof. Heinrich Leonhardt, Dr. Jonas Helma-Smets, Dr. Dominik Schumacher, Prof. Christian Hackenberger (left to right). Picture: C. Bleese

The Start-up company "Tubulis Technologies" receives the Leibniz-Gründerpreis 2018. NIM scientist Prof Heinrich Leonhardt is one of the founders und supports the company developing new antibody-drug conjugates for the specific treatment of tumors.

Peter Hänggi receives the Blaise Pascal Medal in Physics

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Peter Hänggi

In recognition of his pioneering and lasting contributions on the beneficial role of fluctuations in statistical mechanics in and away from thermal equilibrium, NIM scientist Prof Dr Dr h.c. mult. Peter Hänggi receives the Blaise Pascal Medal in Physics 2018 awarded by the European Academy of Science.

Brown adipose tissue made transparent

The new laser method MSOT represents brown fat. Picture: G Diot (TUM)

Brown adipose tissue has played a key role in prevention research since its presence was first documented in adults. However, there was no non-invasive method of measuring its heat generation. NIM scientist Prof Vasilis Ntziachristos and his team now succeeded in making the activity of brown adipose tissue visible without injecting substances.

How exact is my nanoruler?

Schematic of a nano ruler with DNA-coupled fluorescent dyes (red) on a DNA origami square (grey). The bright double signal on the black background presents highly resolved images of nanostructures acquired by super-resolution fluorescence microscopy. Picture: M Raab.

The development and evaluation of DNA origami-based nanorulers enables measurements in the nano cosmos with increasing precision. NIM scientist Prof Dr Philip Tinnefeld and his team explore such self-assembled nano structures.

The paradoxical role of turbulence

Schematic representation of Min protein patterns at the transition into the chaotic regime. Red dots are unstable local equilibriums. Picture: F Brauns (LMU)

The formation of self-organizing molecular patterns in cells is a critical component of many biological processes. NIM researcher Prof Dr Erwin Frey and a PhD student have proposed a new theory to explain how such patterns emerge in complex natural systems.

Collective disentanglement of entangled polymers

NIM physicist Prof Dr Erwin Frey and a colleague have disproven the conventional theory used to explain the dynamics of polymer solutions. They show that for biopolymers collective effects facilitate chain mobility, which is reminiscent of the behavior of glass-like materials.

Light-steering of spin-polarized currents in topological insulators

Helicity-dependent edge conductance. Picture: A Holleitner

Spin-polarization occurs as soon as an electric current flows in the topologic insulator material. Prof Dr Alexander Holleitner and his cooperation partners measured this for the first time optically at room temperature. In particular, they succeeded to steer spin-polarized currents towards the edges by a circularly polarized light beam and to read out the electron spin-polarization at the circuits facets.

Piecework at the nano assembly line

Electric fields drive the rotating nano-crane – 100,000 times faster than previous methods. Picture: E Kopperger

Nanobots are now fast enough to do assembly line work in molecular factories. NIM Scientists Prof Friedrich Simmel and Prof Don C Lamb and colleagues have developed a novel electric propulsion technology for nanorobots. It allows molecular machines to move a hundred thousand times faster than with the biochemical processes used to date.

Progenitors of the living world

The basic constituents of the earliest RNA molecules may have formed in a geothermal environment, such that seen here in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Picture: fotolia/Allen

RNA was probably the first informational molecule. Now NIM chemist Prof Dr Thomas Carell and his team have demonstrated that alternation of wet and dry conditions could have sufficed to drive the prebiotic synthesis of the RNA nucleosides found in all domains of life.

New generation of ultrathin humidity sensors

Photonic crystals as ultrathin humidity sensors. Picture: K. Szendrei-Temesi

Photonic crystals comprising very few layers of 2D-nanosheets and nanoparticles or two alternating nanosheet materials represent a new generation of ultrathin humidity sensors. NIM chemist Prof Dr Bettina Lotsch and her team have developed functional colorimetric sensing materials with increased sensitivity, better optical quality and reduced production cost.

Quantum Hall Physics in 4D

Illustration of a hypothetical device for studying the quantum Hall effect in 4D systems. Picture: LMU/MPQ

Prof Dr Immanuel Bloch, NIM scientist at LMU and Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and his research group implement a dynamical version of the 4D quantum Hall effect with ultracold atoms in an optical superlattice potential.

Monday, 10 December, 2018

6th European Workshop on Advanced Fluorescence Methods

LMU, HighTechCampus, Großhadern, December 10 - 14th, 2018


Tuesday, 09 October, 2018

Nanoparticle Mediated Delivery and Small Molecule Triggered Activation of…

Nucleus, 2018 Sep 14. [Epub ahead of print]



Regular seminars and lectures for NIM graduate students:


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