Novel carbon materials and carbon-rich functional molecules
Our research is focused on nanocarbon materials. We are producing and characterizing new carbonaceous materials and work on their controlled surface modification for a wide range of applications.
Nanodiamond and the class of bucky diamond and multishell fullerenes (nanoonions, which consist of concentric fullerene shells with increasing size towards the outside) have recently found considerable interest in many fields such as imaging and sensing, quantum applications, tissue engineering, catalysis or energy storage. The same is true for carbon-rich functional molecules, which are promising candidates for organic electronics, photovoltaics and the construction of highly defined 2D materials with controlled defect architectures.
One of the goals of our work is to produce, purify and characterize functional nanodiamond materials and nanoonions. Therefore, we are developing efficient techniques for the production of mono-dispersed carbon nanoparticles and their colloidal solutions. Furthermore, the surface functionalization of these nanoparticles is another focus of our work. Modifying them with various organic and biological moieties yields new, tunable materials with interesting mechanical, chemical and physical properties. Especially, nanodiamond functionalized with biologically active groups are tested for applications such as drug delivery, sensing etc. Other projects deal with the development of nanodiamond-based reagents, catalysts, enzymes and initiator groups. Due to its biocompatibility and chemical inertness nanodiamond is a promising candidate for various applications in vivo and in vitro. Recently, we have also started a dedicated research effort to develop the promising photo/electrocatalytic properties of diamond based materials for the generation of sustainable fuels and building blocks. Another area of activity includes the production of highly controlled diamond films using chemical vapour deposition to yield materials with novel defect structures.
For the characterization of our materials we are using a variety of chemical and physical techniques such as HRTEM, EELS; EDX, XPS, XRD, FTIR, UV/Vis, TGA, NMR, combustion analysis etc.
A second part of our research activities comprises the synthesis and characterization of carbon-rich compounds, which can be regarded as models for surface defects of carbon nanomaterials. These highly annulated, and often curved hydrocarbons show interesting spectroscopic self-assembly properties.