Evaluation 2021

As a Leibniz institute, the IFW Dresden is  evaluated by the Leibniz Senate every seven years in order to  verify whether the institute is still in fulfilment of the requirements for public funding. These prerequisites are mainly the scientic excellence and the national importance of the respective research.

13 Subdivisions

For the evaluation of our research we have derived the following 13 subdivisions from our Research Program .

Subdivision 1: Exotic ground states and low-energy exitations in bulk systems

Fundamental experimental and theoretical research of complex bulk materials with strong electron-electron correlations and entanglement of spin, charge, orbital and lattice degrees of freedom, their novel quantum magnetic phases and exotic excitations.

Transition metal (TM) and rare earth (RE) compounds may provide experimental realizations of various fundamental but also more exotic models of quantum magnetism. We are investigating novel phenomena which result from low-dimensionality, magnetic frustration and spin-orbit coupling (SOC) being decisive in defining the ground state. Such systems are often characterized by strong fluctuations, lack of (long-range) magnetic order, a high degeneracy of states, and may bear fractionalized or even topological excitations. In order to obtain new fundamental insights into these correlated states of quantum matter, we employ IFW’s unique combination of relevant mutually complementary methods and expertise. This comprises material synthesis and crystal growth, transport, magnetic and thermodynamic characterization, various spectroscopic (ARPES, STM/STS) and dynamic local spin probe (ESR, NMR) techniques, electronic-structure calculations and various approaches to treating effective many-body models.

Originally, great attention in this research topic has been paid to the  investigation of quantum ground states and elementary excitations in insulating 3d TM compounds with low-dimensional and/or frustrated spin networks as found in “classical” paradigm materials, e.g., in cuprates, manganites, and cobaltites, as well as of complex magnetic properties of intermetallic Heusler compounds.

Recent discoveries of new fundamental phenomena driven by strong SOC, such as novel Mott-like insulating phases in 4d and 5d TM compounds and topologically nontrivial phases in semiconductors, have opened exciting challenges and opportunities for the exploration of new magnetic effects in these emerging materials and therefore have naturally become an important subject of our research since a few years. This strategic development has enabled to position our research as an important part of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Center 1143 “Correlated Magnetism: From Frustration To Topology” coordinated by the TU Dresden and to further enhance national and international visibility of the studies of emerging magnetic quantum matter at the IFW Dresden.

More information:
Materials synthesis group
Thermodynamics and ESR/NMR groups
Theoretical computational group

Subdivision 2: Unconventional Superconductivity: Mechanisms, materials & applications

Fundamental research on properties of unconventional superconductors; Materials and device development for application

Fundamental research is devoted to the interplay of the superconducting phase with potentially competing phases of electronic and magnetic order as well as connected fluctuations, role of nematic order and fluctuations for the understanding of superconductivity. The research benefits from the unique combination of relevant mutually complementary methods and expertise at IFW. This comprises material synthesis and crystal growth, epitaxial film growth, transport, magnetic and thermodynamic characterization, various spectroscopic (ARPES, STM/STS) and dynamic local spin probe (ESR, NMR,NQR) techniques, some of these methods used in combination with strain, electronic-structure calculations and various approaches to treating effective many-body models.

Our research towards the application of unconventional superconductors included the improvement of the respective materials itself and the development of devices based on these materials.

More information:
Synchrotron methods
Synthesis and crystal growth group
Magnetic properties
Nano-Optical Spectroscopy and Microscopy of Quantum Matter
Functional oxide films and superconductors
Superpuddles Lab


Subdivision 3: Magnetic materials for energy / Materials for energy storage

Tailoring magnetic intermetallic alloys and compounds towards energy applications; Electrochemical and structural studies on materials and devices for energy storage

Magnetic intermetallic alloys and compounds exhibit diverse physical states which are characterized, e.g., by the size and direction of the atomic moments, their correlation in space and time, their mutual and spin-lattice interaction energies. The related properties and phenomena (spontaneous magnetization and order, magnetic anisotropy, spin polarization at the Fermi energy, phase transitions, thermomagnetic, magnetocaloric, and magneto-transport effects) enable these materials to be used in energy-efficient applications. Relevant applications comprise permanent magnets for electric motors and generators, magnetic information storage and magneto-resistive sensors. Emerging topics include multicaloric cooling, and thermomagnetic energy conversion. The magnetic properties and functionalities of intermetallic materials are governed not only by their intrinsic properties (electronic structure, atomic moments, magnetic anisotropy, and ordering temperature), but to a large extent by extrinsic contributions (segregation, crystallographic texture, phase distribution) and by their dimensionality. Hence, identifying, understanding, and controlling these contributions are the key to tailoring magnetic intermetallics towards energy applications.

A second branch in this subdivision is devoted to novel materials, devices and concepts for energy storage. It covers fundamental electrochemical and structural studies of charge or discharge mechanisms as well as the development of small scale lab-on-chip device and materials for large scale storage. The material development is supported by density functional calculations on working electrochemical potential, crystal and electronic structure.

More information:
Magnetic and Ferroic Materials
Technology for functional maerials
Electrochemical Energy Storage
Synthesis and crystal growth

Subdivision 4: Engineering magnetic microtextures

Creation, understanding and control of patterns in magnetically ordered materials, including domain walls and skyrmions; Advanced in situ Kerr Microscopy, Magnetic Force Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy

Patterns in magnetically ordered materials, also known as magnetic microstructures and -textures, are vital for their functionality. Creation, understanding and control of such patterns, including domain walls and skyrmions, in variable geometries allows to use materials as switchable units in devices. The aim of this topic is the fabrication of non-collinear states on nano- and mesoscales (up to several µm), which will be stable at room temperature and which can be integrated in various devices. Main challenges are (i) the design and fabrication of material systems with appropriate magnetic couplings and high transition temperatures, and (ii) the development of versatile microscopy methods to investigate their properties. We employ state-of-the-art deposition methods to synthesize suitable magnetic film systems as well as various magnetic imaging techniques such as Magneto Optical Kerr microscopy (MOKE), Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM), and Transmission Electron Microscopy based techniques.

New directions in the search for suitable materials focus on ferrimagnets and antiferromagnets, where the complex spin-structure and intrinsic frustration may generate novel chiral and topological textures. For chiral and centrosymmetric ferromagnets, textures are induced and controlled through strain engineering, curvilinear arbitrary shapes of magnetic specimens or through magneto-ionic manipulation on patterned surfaces. Magneto-ionic manipulation of magnetic metal oxide/metal films at critical points is explored to obtain voltage-reprogrammable magnetic domain patterns. Micromagnetic continuum theory and DFT calculations are used to model these various materials, and to unravel the counteracting influence of dipolar stray-field effects and chiral antisymmetric Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya exchange on magnetic textures. New developments in magnetic imaging address electron holographic and tomographic methods for curved nanoobjects, deconvolution techniques to increase the resolution of Kerr microscopy and magneto-optical methods based on linear dichroism (Voigt effect) to investigate materials for antiferromagnetic spintronics. Advanced in-situ Kerr microscopy of electrolyte gated metal oxide/metal films is conducted to resolve the impact of magneto-ionic manipulation on magnetic domains.

More information:
Research Team Magnetic and Ferroic Materials
Research Team Quantum Materials and Devices
Research Team Transport and Scanning Probe Microscopy
Research Team Electron spectroscopy and microscopy

Subdivision 5: Solidification, non-equilibrium phases / High strength and biocompatible alloys

Research and development of advanced high-performance (metastable) alloys and composites for structural applications and medical implants

The research of this subdivision is driven by the continuously increasing demand for novel high-performance materials for engineering and medical applications. Due to the formation of compositionally, structurally or morphologically metastable phases and microstructures by processing under non-equilibrium conditions, advanced materials with tailored mechanical, physical and (bio)chemical properties with prospect of emergent applications can be developed.

Biocompatible Ti-, Zr- and Fe-based alloys for implants, high performance steels as well as Al- and Ti-based alloys for structural applications, bulk metallic glasses, lightweight composites, shape memory alloys, high-entropy alloys as well as complex concentrated alloys are in the scope of the research. The fabrication and processing techniques include casting, metal forming, powder metallurgy, additive manufacturing (e.g. selective laser melting), electrodeposition, thermoplastic shaping, thermal treatments as well as chemical and thermomechanical surface modifications.

Alloy design and processing are complemented by fundamental studies to understand the mechanisms underlying the phenomena of interest. Along with standard methods, new scale-bridging characterization techniques are being developed in collaboration with IFW Research Technology Department, German Synchrotron DESY and European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF) to perform in-situ structural investigations under non-equilibrium conditions, including undercooled liquid state and rapid heating/cooling processing. Ground-based experiments are accompanied by investigations in a microgravity environment.

The overall goal of the subdivision is to cover the complex development chain from material design ranging from fundamentals of physical metallurgy, materials engineering and surface functionalization to the transfer of novel metallic materials and components into industrial application.

Involved groups at IFW: IKM namely Prof. Dr. Julia Hufenbach, Dr. Uta Kühn, Dr. Annett Gebert, Prof. Dr. Jens Freudenberger, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mariana Calin, Dr. Ivan Kaban, Dr. Sergio Scudino

More Information:

Subdivision 6: Multifunctional inorganic nanomembranes / Flexmag

3D rolled-up nanomembranes and devices, nanomembranes for energy storage, rolled-up microelectronic devices, Optoplasmonic and photonic microcavities.

Nanomembranes are thin, flexible, transferable and can be shaped into almost arbitrary 3D microarchitectures. The ability to create nanomembranes out of virtually any material and material combination with a plethora of different thin film deposition techniques such as thermal evaporation, sputtering, chemical vapor and atomic layer deposition brings about a wealth of new functionalities and has generated worldwide impact in several application fields. On one hand these rely on nanomembranes targeting large area electronic applications, which the IFW has previously pioneered for flexible and stretchable magnetoelectronics, composite materials for microbattery applications as well as GMR pastes/inks for printable electronics. On the other hand, differentially strained nanomembranes are exploited for NEMS and MEMS origami structures, in particular for compact on and off chip rolled-up microtube architectures towards which the IFW has made decisive contributions already in the very early days of this emerging research field. In this context, 3D rolled-up nanomembrane devices include microelectronic and remotely powered systems, RF, GMR and biomimetic microelectronic components for biomedical applications, 3D scaffolds for in-depth single cell investigations, ultrasensitive biomedical sensors and photonic and optoplasmonic microcavities. Most of these subtopics are finely interwoven with research topics found in subdivisions two, four, seven, eleven, twelve.

Nanomembranes for energy storage: Three-dimensional and two-dimensional hybrid nanomembranes fabricated by thin-film deposition and patterned by lithography exhibit impressive electrochemical performance and are ideal candidates to power miniaturized lithium ion batteries, fuel cells and capacitor applications. Hybrid nanomembranes improve the conductivity and also facilitate ultra-high rate capability, long-term cycling performance, and excellent Coulombic efficiency.

Self-assembled microelectronic devices: Arrays of microsystems, various ultracompact electronic components, RF devices such as antennas, coils, resonators and transformers can be produced over large areas with a yield of more than 90% in a highly parallel 6” wafer scale self-assembly process. Other proof-of principle devices include 3D magnetic field vector angular encoders, helical superconducting microwave detectors and thermoelectric harvesters.

Optoplasmonic and photonic microcavities: Microtubular cavities formed by rolling up strained nanomembranes support optical whispering-gallery mode resonances which are capable of interacting with surface plasmons and localized surface plasmons in specially designed opto-plasmonic microcavities. The coupling of resonant light and surface plasmons results in the formation of hybrid photon-plasmon modes in metal layer coated optical microcavities. In these systems light is partially confined and resonating within the dielectric microtube cavity and partially stored at a metal surface or nanostructures in the form of a plasmon-type evanescent field, which is particularly interesting for the study of enhanced light-matter interactions. This kind of hybrid opto-plasmonic mode is able to sustain relatively high Q-factors compared to those of pure surface plasmon modes, while the strong plasmon-type evanescent field is preserved. Our work provides a universal picture for understanding the basic physical mechanisms of photon-plasmon mode coupling in metal-dielectric hybrid microcavities, and as such is relevant for both fundamental and applied studies in photonics and plasmonics.

Flexible and printable magnetoelectronics: The most intriguing progress is based on the concept of imperceptible electronics, which was adopted for GMR sensing using active electronics. This work is expected to have profound impact on applications such as touchless human–machine interaction, motion and displacement sensorics for soft robots or functional medical implants, as well as magnetic functionalities (e.g. navigation and orientation) for epidermal electronics. Our efforts have led to the establishment of the development center for flexible magnetoelectronic devices (FlexMag). FlexMag focuses on upscaling and commercialization of the world’s first printable magnetoelectronic devices, which have been invented and pioneered at IFW Dresden. Recently, we achieved 40% GMR on a 100 m long PET web and a very promising homogeneity of the deposition across the web surface.

Lab-in-a-tube and biosensors: Rolled-up tubular structures as bioanalytical platforms, introduced by our institute in 2012, have led to the development of a variety of analytical devices with integrated electronics and microfluidics, providing advanced functionalities in a 3D environment for single cell/molecule analysis. Recently, novel platforms for advanced cell analysis have been developed. For example, tubular micro scaffolds made of implant-relevant materials, used for the replacement of bone, have been fabricated to analyze human mesenchymal stem cells proliferation, adhesion and differentiation into osteoblasts. Lab-ina-a-tube allows to get deeper insight into the influence of materials and confinement on the bone formation at the single cell level. Likewise, similar rolled-up structures with embedded microelectrodes, integrated into a microfluidic chip have been developed for high throughput analysis of immunological cells and their expressed cytokines towards early immunodiseases diagnosis, avoiding the use of functionalization and labeling steps. As a complementary technique, a tubular electrical impedance microthomography (EIT) device was fabricated. EIT images of microparticles and single cells were obtained as proof of principle, providing spatial information of the conductivity changes over time, allowing the long-term monitoring of living cells. Additionally, new materials are being incorporated, in particular piezoelectric materials which provide additional functions to the rolled-up platforms, for example to in situ pump/mix fluids during analysis. 

More information:
Microrobotics and micromotors
Energy storage at the micro-/nanoscale
Flexible and shapeable electronics
Micro- and nanoelectronics
Magnetic and Ferroic Materials
Electron Spectroscopy and Microscopy
Magnetic properties
Numerical solid state physics and simulation

Subdivision 7: Micromotors and drug delivery

Development of biocompatible microbots to perform medical tasks at the microscale like cell transport or targeted drug delivery

Several concepts have been pursued by different research groups worldwide to realize propulsion on a small size scale, where viscous drag dominates over the inertial forces. Potential geometries for future carriers at the microscale range from tubular microjets and Janus particles or rods over bio-inspired artificial flagella and cilia to helical micromotors. Over the last 11 years, IIN-IFW has pioneered the fabrication and functionality of powerful bubble-propelled micromotors, which by now are employed by several groups worldwide to achieve biomedical and environmental tasks on the microscopic scale. A biocompatible alternative towards microrobotic motion is to rely on the external power supply such as magnetic fields which are not harmful to the human body. For instance, a small magnetic microhelix that rotates around its long axis by following the rotation of an applied magnetic field, results in an efficient forward movement through viscous fluids, like a screw propeller. Hybrid micro-biorobots which are driven by powerful microorganisms (e.g. bacteria) or motile cells (e.g. sperm cells) are also a promising approach as they combine the advantage of biological components to the functionality of engineered microparts. Eventually, this research topic aims to develop biocompatible microbots to perform medical tasks at the microscale, for example to perform micromanipulation, cell transport, or drug delivery.

Different contributions from our Institute have been achieved in recent years, ranging from self-propelled catalytic micromotors, magnetically guided micromotors, microengines with energy on-board to trigger the micromotor motion speed and perform micromanipulation tasks, to sperm-hybrid microbots, in particular studying their motion in realistic fluids to optimize their cap design, or for targeted drug delivery. For any in-vivo application, the microrobots need to be motion-controlled to achieve a meaningful task inside the body. We have recently demonstrated real-time tracking of single microrobots in deep tissue by optoacoustic imaging and optical reflection techniques bringing the whole research field to a decisive step closer to clinical applications. The IFW will organize the “First Leibniz-Nature Conference on Microrobots and Nanorobots for biotechnology” in Dresden in June 2020. The pioneering work of the IFW in this research topic has been appreciated by two ERC grants recently awarded to Mariana Medina-Sánchez and Oliver G. Schmidt.

More information:
Research Team Micro- & Nanobiological Engineering

Subdivision 8: Thermoelectric materials

Experimental studies of transport properties of thermoelectric materials, bulk materials development and applications-based engineering of lab-scale thermoelectric devices

Thermoelectric energy converters are attractive for application in waste heat recovery technologies. Peltier coolers are also a vital part of modern thermal management systems. However, the comparatively low efficiency reached by the current state of the art thermoelectric materials hinders the broad-scale expansion of high-performance thermoelectric device implementation. To increase the efficiency of thermoelectric materials through tailored engineering, a deep understanding of the interlinked electron and phonon transport properties in nanostructured materials is a prerequisite. Challenges remain on how to efficiently decouple both the electrical conductivity and thermal conductivity, as well as how to increase the stability of the thermoelectric material and the compatibility with environmental requirements. The fabrication of thermoelectric devices, especially microdevices, presents further challenges. One key challenges is how to embed the optimized high-performance thermoelectric materials into a device with technology that is compatible with the prospective application.

In this research, we combine (i) knowledge-driven experimental studies of transport properties with (ii) nanograined bulk materials optimization and (iii) applications-based engineering of laboratory-scale devices. The research activities hereby comprise:

  1. the development of a platform for the characterization of thermoelectric transport properties using single-crystalline microribbons obtained by focused ion beam cutting
  2. the development of high power factor and sustainable thermoelectric bulk materials for mid-to-high temperature thermoelectric energy conversion
  3. the fabrication and functional integration of fully operational microenergy harvesting and microthermal management devices with long-term reliability and cycling stability

The IFW’s activities in this subdivision are characterized by the combination of material development with internationally recognized microdevice fabrication. These activities notably include the fabrication and characterization of microthermoelectric devices that are indicated to be stable long-term and highly reliable, which can only be performed in a select few laboratories globally. We further use the expertise developed here in fabrication technology for knowledge-driven experimental studies using microribbons that were obtained by focused ion beam cutting, which offers a unique approach to the acquisition of high-quality thermoelectric transport data and, in turn, stimulates new interpretation of transport phenomena.

More information:
Research Team Thermoelectric Materials and Devices

Subdivision 9: Surface acoustic waves: Concepts, materials & applications

Concept development for new surface acoustic wave (SAW) systems, investigation of advanced SAW material systems, microacoustic devices for microfluidic actuators, temperature sensors and wireless interrogation

Surface acoustic waves (SAWs) provide a versatile base for emerging applications including sensors operating under harsh conditions and actuators in fluidic environments. Our research is consequently focused on future‐oriented fields of SAW application comprising the following main aspects: 

Concepts: Innovative concepts for new system designs are developed based on precise analysis and thorough physical modeling of wave excitation, propagation and interaction effects, including such of higher order. 

Materials: The investigation of advanced SAW material systems - especially for devices working under high temperature or with high power-durability - comprises (i) piezoelectric crystals and films, (ii) thin film electrode systems, and (iii) strategies for interface engineering. This includes high-precision microacoustic characterization of new crystals and high-efficiency piezoelectrics in a wide temperature range in order to obtain complete material data sets for simulation and design of high quality SAW devices. Furthermore, material routes for highly stressable and purpose-compatible thin film electrode systems on different piezoelectric substrates, with properties adapted to harsh operation conditions and fluidic/biological environments, are investigated. This comprehension of functional interlayers/barriers requires also improvement of methods for surface and interface analysis. 

Applications: Microacoustic devices addressing new fields of application in microfluidic actuators, e.g. acoustic tweezers or fluid atomizers, as well as in temperature sensors for harsh environment and wireless interrogation are investigated.

More information:
Research Team Surface Dynamics
SAWLab Saxony

Subdivision 10: 2D Systems / Designed interfaces and heterostructures

Correlated and magnetic van-der-Waals like systems (RuCl3, CrI3 and VSe2); Transport properties across magnetic heterointerfaces; Growth, spectroscopic characterization & theoretical modeling

The cross-over from bulk-like materials to thin films or monolayers (MLs) is one route towards new quantum effects in materials. These phenomena might be observed in either free-standing objects or at heterointerfaces. Notable examples are the occurrence of a 2D electron gas at the LAO/STO interface. More recently, a strongly enhanced photoluminescence was observed in MLs of semiconducting group-VI transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) such as MoS2. These two examples also demonstrate the archetypical approaches to reach the 2D limit: either in a bottom-up fashion via dedicated growth methods or via top-down approaches such as exfoliation. In particular, exfoliation is the method of choice for van-der-Waals systems such as TMDCs and black phosphorus among others.

The activities on these ML materials have been strongly focused on non-correlated and non-magnetic compounds. These materials are supposed to replace graphene by a system that is intrinsically semiconducting. Recently, correlated and magnetic van-der-Waals like systems, e.g. RuCl3, CrI3 and VSe2 have attracted much attention and hold great promises to augment the number of presently available 2D materials. Thickness dependent magnetism has been already demonstrated down to the monolayer for CrI3 and VSe2 and might steer intense research effort because of possible applications in nano-storage devices. But the ground state of correlated materials in the 2D limit could also support exotic properties yet to be discovered.

Research on this new topic within IFW's research program spans a broad range of IFW's core competences: from growth techniques such as atomic layer deposition, molecular beam epitaxy (ALD, MBE) over spectroscopic characterizations (photoluminescence, photoemission) up to dedicated theoretical modeling employing quantum chemistry and density-functional based calculations. In addition, the transport properties across magnetic heterointerfaces are of fundamental as well as practical importance. Here, we focus on thermal and electrical transport and look into, e.g., spin transport across interfaces. Of particular interest are new curvature-induced properties, e.g. two-dimensional topological solitons in curvilinear magnetic films.

More information:
Research Team Electron spectroscopy and microscopy
Research Team Nanoscale Chemistry
Research Team Synthesis and crystal growth
Research Team Superpuddles Lab
Theoretical Quantum chemistry
TEM of Mictro- and nanostructures

Subdivision 11: Quantum and nano-photonics

Semiconductor quantum dots, topological photonic rings, single and entangled photons, thin-walled microcavities, out-of-plane coupling, directional light emission, Möbius ring resonator, surface plasmon polaritons and resonance

The research on quantum and nano-photonics consists of three parts: entangled photons, nanomembrane-based photonics and nanoplasmonics. For entangled photons, one of the main foci was to optimize the performance of GaAs quantum dot based entangled photon sources though growth optimization, implementation of charge tunable structures and optimization of far-field emission patterns. The other main center of attention was the implementation of deterministic preparation of spin qubits using excitation resonances. The knowledge gained by these efforts will be the base for future landmark quantum communication experiments which are currently under way together with external partners. Furthermore, we investigated alternative designs of efficient entangled photon sources based on planar ring cavities and direct coupling of emission of quantum dot nanomembranes to single mode fibers. For nanomembrane-based photonics, probing molecular dynamics on oxide surface was proposed and enabled by optical resonances in thin-walled microtube cavities. Manipulation of directional light emission was extended from two-dimension (2D) to 3D space relying on the spiral-rolling of nanomembrane in microtube. Out-of-plane optical coupling was realized by integrating microtube cavities onto planar rings, which represents a major step toward 3D photonic integration. To explore novel miniaturized on-chip laser source, perovskite nanowire was studied to generate polariton lasing. Moreover, optical Berry phase was generated and measured in Möbius ring cavities, which provides a topological quantity for signal processing and optical communication based on microcavities. We further proposed a strategy of using stretchable photonic topological insulator to enable topological phase transition in a single device. For nanoplasmonics, we explore surface plasmon band engineering (gaps, dispersion, topological surface states) and controlled coupling to nanophotonic elements (e.g. QDs) in various plasmonic nanostructures, notably large-scale self-assembled heterogeneous plasmon nanoparticle arrays. Additionally, we investigate surface plasmon excitation on plasmonic nanostructures of topological materials. Focus is the characterization of Dirac plasmons and the exceptional magnetoelectric effects due to Axion coupling.

We develop and employ technologies and expertise available at the IFW-Dresden –– ranging from photonic nanostructure synthesis (MBE growth, electron beam lithography, post-etching, Rolled-up nanotech) to various characterization methods (by confocal microscopy, photon correlation measurements, Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS)), and further supported by theoretical calculations –– using finite element method (FEM), finite-difference time-domain (FDTD), or boundary element method (BEM) etc. –– to obtain new fundamental insights into quantum and nano-photonics and explore practical applications for the coming era of quantum information in science and technology.

More information:
Nano-quantum photonics
Electron spectroscopy and microscopy

Subdivision 12: Functional molecular nanostructures and interfaces

Fullerenes and Carbon nanotubes with new functionalities; Charge and spin transfer at novel organic heterointerfaces; Novel nanoscale organic/hybrid functional devices like molecular rectifier, spin valves, thin-film field-effect transistors

Molecules and molecular solids characterized by π-derived electronic states are in the focus of research activities world-wide. For instance, they support semiconducting behavior and associated particular optical properties in the visible regime. Therefore many π-conjugated molecules are already applied in organic electronic devices, a field that is still rapidly developing. As a consequence, functional interfaces based upon organic molecular materials play an important role. Moreover, the π-conjugated electronic states are also responsible for the structure and the stability of purely carbon-based nanostructures, the fullerenes. One of the very attractive and fascinating properties of the latter is the possibility to use them as containers for other species, as they are distinguished by their hollow interior. One of the key issues in regard of the understanding and in particular the functionalities of carbon-based molecular nanostructures as well as of interfaces involving π-conjugated molecular species is the thorough and comprehensive understanding of charge transfer processes to the respective molecular material and the nature of charged states of the molecules themselves, either on their own or at interfaces.

It is one central aim within this research topic to investigate these charge transfer processes and states of selected molecular nanostructures and interfaces using state-of-the-art, complementary techniques. This will allow us to determine many relevant parameters and properties and thus provide a comprehensive knowledge of these issues. The combination of techniques available in the IFW Dresden is quite unique, also on an international level. Furthermore, the research groups involved in this research topic have a long-standing and internationally visible expertise in the development and application of their methods as well as in the investigation of electronic and optical properties, charge transfer and charged states of functional molecular materials with π-conjugated electron systems.

In addition we will implement straight on our knowledge about carbon nanotube (CNT) to industrial applications. Herein carbon nanotube yarns (CNY) are novel carbonaceous material transferring the well-known outstanding properties from nano (CNT) to the micro scale (CNY). CNY are very promising candidates for industrial applications due to their high heat conductivity, electrical conductivity, and mechanical strength combined with a very good handling of a micro-material.

More information:
Nanoscale Chemistry
Electron spectroscopy and microscopy research team
Numerical solid state physics and simulation
TEM Micro/Nano Structures

Subdivision 13: Topological states of matter

Theory: prediction of new topological phases; Materials design: synthesis of photonic lattices, novel bulk single crystals, nanowires, thin films; Experimental physics: spectroscopic and transport properties

Probing unconventional topology is one of the most extensively investigated research fields of the last decade, both in experimental as well as theoretical condensed matter physics. Recently, many new directions have emerged within the topological class of materials, for example topological crystalline insulators, fractional topological insulators, topological photonic crystals, topological metals, Dirac- and Weyl semimetals including type-II materials and those possessing multiply degenerate Dirac and Weyl points with higher topological charge. This diversity and richness of topological states and phases is a broad source of inspiration for our research. Our strategy for probing specific topological matter of electrons and photons is 3-fold and entangles cutting edge theory, materials design and synthesis as well as targeted experiments. More specifically, this entails i) the prediction of new topological phases of electronic matter and photonic lattices as well as electromagnetic manifestations and implications of topology, ii) the design and synthesis of photonic lattices, novel bulk single crystals, nanowires, thin films as well as pertinent functional heterostructures, and iii) experimentally probing the systems’ topological nature by scrutinizing their spectroscopic and transport properties.

More information:
Theory of topological state of matter
Electron spectroscopy and microscopy
Synchrotron Methods
Synthesis and Crystal Growth
Transport and Scanning Probe Microscopy
Quantum Materials and Devices
Quantum photonics

Facts & Numbers


Total number of staff 602
Scientists 314
Technical staff 125
Administrative staff 43
Scholarship holders 44
Apprentices 21
Percentage of female academic staff 24%
Percentage of female group leaders in science 27%

Promotion of young talents

Doctoral candidates 145


  • Internal............................125
  • Externally supervised........20


PhD theses completed in 2019 20
Master and Diploma theses completed in 2019 22
Scholarship holders 44
Junior Research Groups 11
Apprentices 21



Institutional funding in 2019 (in million EUR) 33.1
Third-party funding in 2019 (in million EUR) 9.3
Third-party funding as a share of the total budget 22 %

Excellence & Competitiveness

Total number of  ERC Grants 10

Highly Cited Scientists

Participation in ct.qmat Cluster of Excellence

Coordination of the EU Training Network BIOREMIA

Two Leibniz Prize Winners (2009, 2018)

Cooperation with universities

Three Directors appointed on joint professorships with TU Dresden
One Director appointed on joint professorship with TU Chemitz
One Junior professorship with TU Dresden
One Temporary professorship jointly appointed with TU Bergakademie Freiberg
One Honorary professorship at TU Dresden
Two Honorary professorships at TU Bergakademie Freiberg

Part of Collaborative Research Centre „Correlated Magnetism: From Frustration to Topology“ (SFB 1143)

Coordination of two DFG Priority Programs, one on high temperature superconductivity in Iron pnictides (SPP 1458) and one on caloric effects in ferroic materials (SPP 1599).


In 2019, IFW scientists

  • published more than 400 articles in reviewed journals
  • have been named in the 2019 list of Highly Cited Researchers in the annual ranking of the Web of Science Group
  • held 186 invited talks
  • applied for 5 patents
  • organized 4 scientific conferences and 2 sommer schools

About 5000 visitors have been to IFW Dresden in 2019 to participate in guided labtours or in public events like the Dresden Long Night of Sciences, Juniordoktor or GirlsDay.

20 press releases resulted in 357 mentions in the media and 90 post on social media platforms.