Research area A: Adaptive molecular systems

  • A01

    A01 New photoswitches for integration in adaptive nanosystems

    Prof. Dr. Frank Glorius - Organic Chemistry Institute
    Prof. Dr. Bart Jan Ravoo - Organic Chemisty Institute

    Project description

    Molecular photoswitches are versatile sensors and actuators for the development of intelligent matter. In this project we will design and prepare azo and spiropyran photoswitches as building blocks for the assembly of adaptive nanosystems. The project combines our expertise in the development of innovative photoswitches and surface ligands based on N-heterocyclic carbenes. These photoswitches will be immobilized on nanoparticles and patterned on surfaces using soft lithography. Furthermore, the photoswitches developed in this project will be integrated in a range of adaptive molecular systems, soft materials and solid-state nanosystems explored in the CRC.

    • A02

      A02 Control of the primary and secondary structure in synthetic polymers to access adaptive soft materials

      Prof. Dr. Armido Studer - Organic Chemistry Insitute

      Project description

      Methods for the alternating controlled radical copolymerization to access alternating ABC-type copolymers will be developed. Unique self-assembly behavior is expected for these soft materials. Adaptive materials using mechanophores as active functionalities will be prepared. Mechanical stress will alter the stiffness or the absorption properties in these materials. A second research line is devoted to the preparation of chiral rigid polymers with defined secondary structure by using anionic ring-opening polymerization of chiral donor-acceptor cyclopropanes. Chiral polymers bearing redox-active Ru-functionalities at their side chains will be synthesized and the material will be tested as a self-oscillating system where a defined periodical structural change is achieved and maintained in the presence of a chemical fuel.

    • A03

      A03 Interfacing self-assembly and multiple stimuli to create adaptive behaviour

      Prof. Dr. Gustavo Fernández - Organic Chemistry Institute
      Prof. Dr. Michael R. Hansen - Institute of Physical Chemistry
      Prof. Dr. Johannes Neugebauer - Organic Chemistry Institute

      Project description

      Controlling the energy landscape of stimuli-responsive supramolecular materials remains a major challenge in the field of self-assembly. In this project, we aim at unravelling the effect of various triggers on supramolecular polymerization by detailed mechanistic insights. By interfacing supramolecular polymerization under controlled experimental conditions and a given stimulus, we will switch from responsive to adaptive behaviour on demand. The sequential application of multiple stimuli at defined intervals is expected to produce unprecedented functional supramolecular materials with oscillating, adaptive, sensing and memory behaviour.

    • A04

      A04 Developing tunable triplet emitters towards adaptive electroluminescent materials

      Prof. Dr. Nikos Doltsinis - Institute of Solid State Theory
      Prof. Dr. Cristian A. Strassert - Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry

      Project description

      Light-emitting materials composed of photoluminescent metal-organic coordination compounds attached to metal nanoparticles or embedded in soft polymeric matrices will be developed. They will be controlled by and adapt to a variety of external stimuli such as light, temperature, pressure, mechanical force, and electrochemical potential. In turn, these features will enable them to act as sensors of environmental changes. In the long term, the developed concepts will enable color-coded information storage and processing by embedment in nanophotonic matrices and integration into neuromorphic architectures.

    • A05

      A05 Light-controlled anion-binding adaptive supramolecular systems

      Prof. Dr. Olga García Mancheño -Organic Chemistry Institute
      Prof. Dr. Monika Schönhoff - Institute of Physical Chemistry

      Project description

      Photo-responsive azobenzene-triazole systems will be designed to allow Z-selective anion binding, resulting in photo-reversible switchable anion availability and catalytic activity. Peptide functionali-zation will enable supramolecular aggregates, with anion binding constants depending on the available space for isomerization and thus on the aggregation state. As a route towards adaptive materials we envision to implement memory by modifying aggregate structures based on the steric requirement of the azotriazole E and Z forms during repeated photoisomerization cycles. The ultimate goal is to construct materials with memory-controlled photo-responsive anion binding properties.

    • A06

      A06 A semi-synthetic nanosystem for programmable control of output based on rational design and directed evolution

      Prof. Dr. Andrea Rentmeister - Institute of Biochemistry

      Project description

      In the first funding period, we will develop a system that senses different small molecules and actuates the formation of an output signal. The semi-synthetic nanosystem consists of a reaction network in aqueous solution and explores different feedback mechanisms to move from a responsive to an adaptive system that self-regulates the formation of metabolites, RNA, or protein and leads to a detectable output signal (e.g. fluorescence, enzymatic activity or proteinaceous material). Permanent or light-removable modifications of DNA will be tested as a molecular memory indicating which fuels the system has previously been exposed to. The long-term goal of this project is to realize adaptive behavior and learning capability, reminiscent of artificial synapses, by integrating this sensing-actuation system into photonic circuits or confined spaces, such as vesicles and nanofabrication approaches, and to be able to distinguish experienced systems from naïve ones.

Research area B: Adaptive soft materials

  • B01

    B01 Towards intelligent light-propelled nano- and microsystems

    Prof. Dr. Cornelia Denz - Institute of Applied Physics
    Jun.-Prof. Dr. Raphael Wittkowski - Institute of Theoretical Physics

    Project description

    Artificially propelled colloidal particles constitute biomimetic analogues to natural microswimmers and represent ideal building blocks or agents for responsive and adaptive soft matter. In a common theoretical and experimental project, we develop an advantageous novel class of such particles that are light-actuated based on symmetry-broken refraction. We will investigate individual particles and suspensions, where self-assembled adaptive networks and light-responsive swarms are expected, as novel types of nonlinear optical materials. Increasing the complexity by incorporating structured light, light-responsive shape-changing materials, delay, and memory, we will answer the question how swarm intelligence emerges. Thus, our project paves the way towards intelligent light-propelled nano- and microsystems.

    • B02

      B02  Adaptive polymer morphologies through reversible block fragmentation

      Prof. Dr. Andre Gröschel - Institute of Physical Chemistry
      Prof. Dr. Bart Jan Ravoo - Organic Chemistry Institute

      Project decription

      We will develop dissipative block copolymer nanostructures and explore their potential as sensors, actuators, and memory in adaptive systems and intelligent matter. We will design block copolymers able to dynamically alter their composition through energy-driven supramolecular fragmentation. Multivalency and orthogonality of the reversible host-guest interactions will allow us to tune the composition, stability, lifetime and self-assembly behavior of the block copolymers in aqueous solution. We develop out-of-equilibrium morphologies (micelles, vesicles, cubosomes) with tunable lifetimes that only exists as long as sufficient energy is provided. Intrinsic feedback will stabilize steady states by regulating the energy feed. In the long term we aim to implement these dissipative block copolymer morphologies into nanophotonic neural networks.

    • B03

      B03  Molecular control of adaptive interfaces and hierarchical soft matter

      Jun.-Prof. Dr. Björn Braunschweig - Institute of Physical Chemistry
      Prof. Dr. Andreas Heuer - Institute of Physical Chemistry

      Project decription

      Through simulations and experiments, this project focuses on the molecular scale of adaptivity, where fluid interfaces are applied as unique platforms to achieve adaptive behaviour that has direct consequences on the properties of interface-controlled materials such as foam. We plan to develop combinations of photoswitchable surfactants and thermo-responsive polymers as responsive building blocks for remote control of interfacial properties. Mixtures of these building blocks will be tailored so that they show conditioned responses, where previous stimuli cause a redistribution of molecules that enables direct feedback to a new stimulus as the system response depends on the sequence of previous triggers.

    • B04

      B04 Multistimuli sensing with memory and feedback function using photoswitchable proteins and coordination chemistry

      Prof. Dr. Seraphine Wegner - Institute of Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry

      Project description

      We will develop a molecular toolbox of multistimuli responsive crosslinks in hydrogels that can sense and integrate different stimuli as inputs (different colours of visible light, redox, pH and metal ions) and respond to them following a chemically coded logic. We will explore how such hydrogels can develop memory for previous inputs and use intrinsically generated signals to generate feedback. The integration of different molecular building blocks that react to multiple stimuli and their interplay will provide the basis of molecular level information processing within hydrogels.

Reseach area C: Adaptive solid-state nanosystems

  • C02

    C02 Opto-electronic neuromorphic architectures

    Prof. Dr. Rudolf Bratschitsch - Physics Institute
    Prof. Dr. Wolfram H. P. Pernice - Physics Institute
    Prof. Dr. Wilfred G. van der Wiel - Physics Institute and MESA+ (University of Twente)

    Project description

    We will develop adaptive nanoscale opto-electronic networks for machine learning in materio. Memory functionality is embedded via phase-change materials (PCMs). Learning capability is obtained by combining local field enhancement through plasmonic nanoparticles (NPs) with optical and electrical feedback. NP single-electron transistors will employ PCMs as tunnel barriers that can be programmed by ultra-short optical pulses combined with feedback from electrical high-frequency signals. We will study both regular and disordered NP networks created via bottom-up self-assembly and top-down nanofabrication. Our long-term goal is to realize matter-like processors that communicate with each other, and to analyse electrical sensory input, providing intelligent response for machine-learning tasks.

    • C04

      C04 Adaptive magnonic networks for nanoscale reservoir computing

      Prof. Dr. Rudolf Bratschitsch - Physics Institute
      Prof. Dr. Sergej O. Demokritov - Institute of Applied Physics
      Prof. Dr. Wolfram H. P. Pernice - Physics Institute

      Project description

      We plan to develop nanoscale reservoir computing devices based on adaptive magnonic networks with embedded memory functionality. Adaptive networks based on both lithographically patterned and self-assembled nanostructures will be realized, which will be controlled using ultrafast optical programming. In the mid-term, we will combine the developed controllable building blocks into ordered and disordered networks with multiple input and output terminals, allowing implementation of reservoir-computing devices at the nanoscale. In the long term, we strive to employ interconnected magnonic reservoirs for realizing adaptive surfaces responding to magnetic, electric, and optical stimuli.

    • C05

      C05 Coherent nanophotonic neural networks with adaptive molecular systems

      Jun.-Prof. Dr. Benjamin Risse - Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science
      Jun.-Prof. Dr. Carsten Schuck - Physics Institute

      Project description

      This project targets the implementation and performance evaluation of elementary linear and nonlinear building blocks for coherent optical artificial neural networks. The focus will lie on integrating a large variety of nonlinear photo-responsive chemical and molecular systems developed within this CRC with nanophotonic devices that allow for straightforward replication. We will assess the characteristics of the resultant building blocks for dedicated training, regularization and explainable AI strategies to derive tailored analysis and optimization algorithms. This interdisciplinary combination will yield nanophotonic neural network components and accompanying digital twins that pave the way for large-scale artificial intelligence.

    • C06

      C06 Mixed-mode in-memory computing using adaptive phase-change materials

      Prof. Dr. Wolfram H. P. Pernice - Physics Institute
      Prof. Dr. Martin Salinga - Institute of Materials Physics

      Project description

      We develop neuromorphic architectures that exploit phase-change materials to implement in-memory computing. Nanophotonic waveguides will allow for realizing high-bandwidth neuromorphic processors with both optical and electrical feedback. Nanoscale artificial synapses will be based on phase-change materials, which are electrically programmed into multiple memory states for weighted optical readout. Using material engineering and spatially resolved phase-state assignment, we will create interconnected logic arrays for mixed-mode information processing.