Structure and dynamics of nanoscale interfaces

  Interface of nanoparticle and water Copyright: © MZ

Figure adapted from Acta Cryst. A72 (2016), 621-631


Nanostructured solid-liquid and solid-gas interfaces play a great role in various applications:

  • in nanotechnology from nucleation phenomena, via crystallization to self-assembly of mesocrystals,
  • in heterogeneous catalysis,
  • in biomedicine, for instance in cancer treatment,
  • in energy materials such as fuel cells.

Very universally, both sides of the interface undergo restructuring, typically over 3 to 5 atomic, respectively molecular layers. This restructuring impacts both the structure and the dynamics on each side of the interface, which in turn impact interfacial physicochemical properties.

While in the last decades, researchers worldwide majored to control the size, shape and properties of nanoparticles in various applications, only very little is known about the details of interfaces in contact with gaseous or liquid media. Yet, in order to further improve applications and to gain fundamental understanding of the origin of applicational properties, we crucially need to gain insight into the intricate details of these interfaces. The common presence of organic stabilizing molecules at the nanoparticle surfaces, further complicates this problem.

Yet, our workgroup stroke this way using advanced X-ray and neutron techniques to tackle the structural and dynamical details of nanostructured interfaces. Our projects in this field govern the different aspects:

Structure of solvation shells around colloidal nanoparticles
Dynamics of water and organic molecules on nanoparticles surfaces
In-situ studies of nanoparticle formation to grasp the role of organic ligands