IRIS Research Building: Exhibition for the Art Competition

In August 2017, the Senate Department for Culture and Europe, together with the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing, announced an art competition with 10 invited artists for the new research building of IRIS Adlershof. In February 2018, a jury approved the draft by BORGMAN | LENK with the title "Accesss" recommended for implementation (see news from Febr. 05, 2018). This winning design, which features the installation of gold-colored components and elements that are inconsistent with the functional processes and entrances of the house, will be on display at the IRIS-House from 09 to 20 July 2018, along with the other designs submitted to the art competition be visited.



Light-controlled production of biodegradable polymers

A research team from Berlin, leaded by Prof. Stefan Hecht, who is a member of IRIS Adlershof, has developed a novel catalyst system, which enables the regulation of multiple polymerization processes to produce biodegradable plastics solely by illumination with light of different colors. The results of this work have now been published in Nature Catalysis.

The properties of a polymeric material are highly dependent on factors, such as the connected monomer building blocks as well as the length and composition of the formed polymer chains. Typically, these factors are predetermined by the choice of the employed reaction conditions. In order to overcome this limitation and generate materials with new and unprecedented properties, regulation of polymerizations by means of external stimuli represents an attractive goal. Similarly to dental repair, light serves to precisely control the location and duration of the chemical reaction during polymer formation.

A new method for the light-regulated production of biodegradable polymers has now been developed by chemists of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing Berlin, and the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Their work is based on the design of a unique catalyst, which is capable to change its activity reversibly by illumination with light of different wavelength. Using their catalyst, the scientists were able to turn the formation of polylactide on and off on demand, which allowed them to control the chain length of the produced polymer strands. Moreover and for the first time, they were able to regulate the incorporation of two different monomers into the same polymeric backbone with light.

Fabian Eisenreich and Michael Kathan, the first authors of the study, are excited: “With our remote-controlled catalyst we are in principle able to program the formation of a desired polymer strand by employing a specific order and duration of light pulses.” Their promising development is an important step toward smart production processes of (biodegradable) polymers with the aim to meet the growing demands of future applications, including light-guided 3D printing and photolithography.

Weitere Informationen

“A photoswitchable catalyst system for remote-controlled (co)polymerization in situ
by: Fabian Eisenreich, Michael Kathan, Andre Dallmann, Svante P. Ihrig, Timm Schwaar, Bernd M. Schmidt and Stefan Hecht
in: Nature Catalysis (2018), DOI: 10.1038/s41929-018-0091-8



Chain reaction switches molecules in depth

A new method developed by a team of chemists in Berlin open the door for using optically switchable molecules. The results of the study have been published in Chem.

Smart materials become increasingly common in our daily life as they adapt their properties to their surroundings, such as temperature and light. Think about light-adaptive lenses in sunglasses that change their color in response to brightness or darkness. In these materials, photoswitchable molecules able to change their properties, such as color or the ability to conduct electricity, upon illumination serve as key components. However, photoswitches typically require the use of high-energy UV light and in addition do neither switch quantitatively nor efficiently since many more quanta than molecules are needed. These drawbacks limit the applicability of photoswitches, in particular since the more energy-rich light is, the less it can penetrate into materials.
Now, chemists of Berlin’s Humboldt University and the University of Potsdam have developed a method, which allows one to efficiently and quantitatively operate photoswitches with the smallest amounts of low-energy red photons, thus solving both issues described above. By coincidence they came across the phenomenon that the oxidation of only a few switch molecules was sufficient to switch the entire sample. Subsequently, they investigated the underlying chain reaction in great detail and optimized it by introducing dyes to allow for the use of red light. The latter allowed them to boost the quantum yield – typically way below 100% – to a record-setting value of almost 200%.
The impact of their discovery is tremendous according to Dr. Alexis Goulet-Hanssens and Prof. Stefan Hecht, who works at the Department of Chemistry and IRIS Adlershof: „With our method, for the first time we can address molecular switches deep in a material. Thus, we can operate optical devices efficiently but also penetrate deep into the skin through the biological window“ they explain and are excited about possible applications in optoelectronics as well as medicine.

Further Informationen

“Hole Catalysis as a General Mechanism for Efficient and Wavelength-Independent Z/E Azobenzene Isomerization”
by: Alexis Goulet-Hanssens, Clemens Rietze, Evgenii Titov, Leonora Abdullahu, Lutz Grubert, Peter Saalfrank und Stefan Hecht
in: Chem (2018), DOI: 10.1016/j.chempr.2018.06.002


Best-Poster-Award for Laura Orphal at Symposium IRIS 2018

  Director Jürgen P. Rabe, Awardee Laura Orphal, Jury member Emil List-Kratochvil

The IRIS Symposium has firmly established itself as an annual highlight in the scientific life of IRIS Adlershof, and it has a growing interest beyond the Adlershof location, as the annually increasing number of participants impressively demonstrates. This year, ideas for the further development of IRIS in the areas of Advanced Microscopies, Hybrid Materials for Optics and Electronics, Mathematical Physics of Complex Systems, and Quantum Technologies were in the focus of interest. These topics were introduced to an extremely open-minded audience of internationally renowned researchers and representatives of business enterprises.

In order to give young scientists the opportunity to present their own research results to the invited speakers and the symposium participants, this year's symposium has been expanded to include a poster competition. The jury, consisting of the representative of the young researchers Julian Miczajka, as well as the IRIS members Prof. Yan Lu and Prof. Emil List-Kratovchvil, was visibly struggling to make the choice for the best poster. Finally, Laura Orphal was able to prevail with a total of 30 competitors with her poster. Laura Orphal, master student in the group 'Photonics', which is currently led by IRIS member Prof. Oliver Benson, received the Best Poster Award and a book voucher at the end of the symposium by IRIS Director Prof. Jürgen P. Rabe before the event ended with grilled and drinks.


Lise-Meitner Prize 2018 for Anne Spiering

  Anne Spiering, M.Sc.

Anne Spiering, former Master in the group "Quantum Field and String Theory", led by IRIS Adlershof member Jan Plefka, has been awarded with this year's Lise-Meitner Prize of the "Vereinigung der Freunde und Förderer des Instituts für Physik" in the category Mono-Master for her thesis "From Yangian symmetry to factored scattering". The jury said: "in her Master thesis she showed her ability to further develop advanced and highly complex concepts in particle physics. In addition to being of high scientific value, her thesis is also written in a pedagogically highly valuable manner." Ms. Spiering is currently continuing her research with at the Trinity College Dublin with a doctorate in mathematical physics.

We congratulate very much!


Study Prize of the Physical Society of Berlin for Julian Miczajka

The Physical Society of Berlin has awarded the Physics Study Award 2018, sponsored by Siemens AG, to outstanding graduates of the diploma or master's degree in physics. Among the winners is also the elected representative of the junior researchers of IRIS Adlershof, Julian Miczajka. Mr. Miczajka is currently a doctoral student in the group of IRIS-member Professor Jan Plefka and is focusing on an exceptional class of higher spin theories in flat spaces, especially on their relationship with hidden symmetries, integrability, and duality.

The award will be presented on July 12, 2018 as part of a public celebration in the Magnus House.

We congratulate Julian Miczajka very much!



Humboldt research prize for Professor Seth Marder

Seth Marder, Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering (courtesy) at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was awarded the renowned research prize from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Seth Marder is internationally recognized for his leadership in developing structure-property relationships for organic and metallo-organic materials for optical and electronic applications. Among his accomplishments he created a new class of extremely efficient two-photon absorbing materials that helped to enable the field of two-photon 3D microfabrication, which is now a commerical technology used around the world. He has also contributed to the development of organic electronic materials, in particular dopants that can be used to convert semiconducting materials to materials with substantial conductivities. While in Germany he will continue his collaborative studies of the effects of dopants on the properties of both organic and inorganic materials. Professor Seth Marder is hosted by Professor Nobert Koch at IRIS Adlershof and the Department of Physics of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

We heartily congratulate Prof. Marder and are looking forward to an exciting and productive collaboration!


International students visit IRIS Adlershof

A group of students and professors from Morehouse and Spelman Colleges, two so-called “historically black colleges and universities” or colleges from the “Black Ivy League” from Atlanta, Georgia (USA), visited the natural science campus of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in the framework of several day Berlin stay to inform themselves about the local study conditions and research opportunities. IRIS administrative head Dr. Nikolai Puhlmann and IRIS member Prof. Christoph Koch as well as Mohammad Fardin Gholami, a doctoral student in the group from IRIS director Prof. Jürgen P. Rabe gave some insight into IRIS Adlershof’s research and graduate education. The guests were quite interested in and impressed about the nascent IRIS research building as well as the diverse opportunities for international young scientists at the Adlershof location.