C – Exploring emergence in heterogeneous systems
The research objects of Area C, biological macromolecules and artificial nanostructures, are typical representatives of the next hierarchical level of functionality when compared to medium sized molecules and bulk solids. Our long-term goal is to achieve a similar amount of understanding and control as in Areas A and B of the processes leading to emergence of functionality in e.g. a protein or an effective photocatalyst.
The research groups will address the following specific questions:
- What is the role of dynamics and heterogeneity in macromolecular function?
- How does structure formation on the nanoscale lead to emergent functionality in natural and artificial nanomaterials?
- How does electron transport emerge between separated nanoscale quantum systems?
These questions are naturally informed by the new understandings of chemistry in Area B and the importance of topology and novel methods of control in Area A, which must be combined with the development of new capabilities to image conformational dynamics at the atomic scale.
It is in Area C where we make use of the XFEL revolution to the greatest extent, in some cases by taking advantage of non-linear regimes opened up in Area A. All projects in Area C additionally require new approaches to sample preparation and theoretical descriptions of complex matter that is driven out of equilibrium.
In Area C, coupled processes on multiple time and length scales are essential for the emergence of functionality. For instance, the coupling of electronic motions to individual nuclei is conditional on the conformational changes of the larger molecular or nanoparticle subsystems. Together with energy sources, for example from the environment, this results in feedback loops producing dynamical changes in the energetic landscapes, which are exploited in biology to greatly enhance and steer chemical reactions in ways that test-tube chemistry cannot. Our ambition is to be able to design such functionalities by controlling basic interactions at the atomic and molecular scales.
In this sense, Area C can be understood as a natural extension of Areas A and B, where we are at the transition from the regime of coherent many-body quantum physics into classical descriptions, which continues to represent a major challenge for an appropriate theoretical description.
The methodologies developed here will become increasingly important to the cluster as our command of matter grows with the increase of complexity and heterogeneity of systems in Areas A and B.
Participating research groups:
For more information about each scientist, please follow the individual links on our "Who we are" page.
- Dr. A. Ayyer
- Dr. S. Bajt
- Dr. S. Bari
- Prof. G. Bester
- Prof. Ch. Betzel
- Prof. A. Cavalieri
- Prof. H. Chapman
- Prof. M. Fröba
- Prof. G. Grübel
- Prof. K. Grünewald
- Dr. D. Horke
- Prof. N. Huse
- Prof. J. Küpper
- Prof. D. Koziej
- Prof. H. Lange
- Dr. F. Lehmkühler
- Prof. R. J. D. Miller
- Prof. A. Mews
- Dr. C. Palencia
- Prof. W. Parak
- Prof. A. Pearson
- Prof. R. Röhlsberger
- Prof. R. Santra
- Dr. C. Seuring
- Prof. H. Tidow
- Prof. H. Weller
- Prof. A. P. Alivisatos, UC Berkley
- Prof. R. D. Kornberg, Stanford University