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Light driven motion of molecules on surfaces


The relentless drive towards nanoscience and nanotechnology is characteristic of our time. A vital component of the nanotechnology toolbox would be a molecule or molecular assembly that acts as a motor, driving mechanical processes at the molecular level. Ultimately such a miniscule motor can be controlled, be switched on and off, change direction, and move purposefully on a surface. To do all this, the molecule has to perform work and should therefore be able to convert one type of energy into another. One of the ways this energy can be provided would be through light. As we have learned to control and engineer light fields on nanometer length scales on the fast time scales intrinsic to optics this would lead to complete control over the molecular motor. It is not hard to imagine that for the movement of a molecular motor the interaction with the surface and the conformation of the molecule plays a crucial role. For the fabrication and construction processes that must surround the production of working machi nes from molecules it is necessary to obtain a detailed understanding of the chemical and physical properties of these molecules absorbed on a surface. Only with a deeper insight into these properties it is possible to tailor devices to the desired functio nality. In the last years, STM has become one of the most powerful tools to obtain this information by means of high resolution STM images, STS spectra and STM movies of diffusing molecules. It is the purpose of this project to contribute significantly to the understanding of how the motion of large molecules on surfaces can be influenced by light. The approach taken is to excite specific optically induced vibrations in (specifically engineered) molecules and follow their motion in time with STM. By directl y making the interaction with the surface and changes in conformation visible as a function of light we hope to make a crucial step in understanding light-driven motion of molecules on surfaces.

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Nordre Ringgade 1
Aarhus C