Around 400 scientists conduct research as part of CENIDE into diverse topics relating to nanotechnology, from physics to chemical catalysis or biomedicine.

The unique research building NanoEnergy- TechnologyCenter (NETZ) is part of CENIDE and has equipment including facilities for nanomaterial synthesis from the gas phase and laser-based colloid synthesis, and a high-tech microscopy centre operated by the Interdisciplinary Center for Analytics on the Nanoscale (ICAN).

Dynamic processes in solids

The dynamics of elementary excitations in solids, at surfaces or in nanoparticles or nanostructures are investigated within CENIDE with extremely high time resolution. Structural excitations, phase transitions, transient heating and cooling are observed using electron beam or x-ray diffraction and spectroscopy with a time resolution of just a few 100 femtoseconds. One indicator of the high standard of research ongoing here is the new Collaborative Research Centre SFB/CRC 1242 “Non-Equilibrium Dynamics of Condensed Matter in the Time Domain”, which has been funded by the DFG since 2016 in the Faculty of Physics: It is well known that the atoms and electrons in solid matter can be excited and transition from their ground state into a higher energy state. External stimuli, such as pressure, light or electrical voltage, lead to excitations in different degrees of freedom of matter, which interact through impacts of atoms and electrons, for example. “SFB 1242 brings together knowledge and findings from physics and chemistry in order to develop a general microscopic understanding of these non-equilibrium states,” is how the coordinator Prof. Uwe Bovensiepen sums up the work in this field.

Gas-phase synthesis

Synthesis of nanoparticles in the gas phase permits scalable fabrication of tailored materials. CENIDE explores all aspects of gas phase processes and has extensive expertise in fundamental experiments, development of specialised measurement technology, modelling and simulation, and nanoparticle synthesis on a scale that is relevant to practical application.

Spray-flame synthesis is a promising new approach to producing functional oxide nanomaterials of complex composition. This offers much greater scope in terms of materials compared with existing large-scale gas-phase processes. However, actual industrial use has hitherto failed due to the need for expensive source materials and insufficient fundamental understanding of the process. The new DFG Priority Programme SPP 1980 “Nanoparticle Synthesis in Spray Flames: SpraySyn: Measurement, Simulation, Processes” intends to change that. The coordinator is the winner of the Leibniz Prize, Prof. Christof Schulz.


Whether they are used in cancer therapy, audio speakers or shock absorbers, magnetic nanoparticles are extremely versatile. Yet such diverse applications also require extremely finely tuned material properties. In magnetism, interest at CENIDE centres on the fabrication and highly specific characterisation of novel materials and hybrids on microscopic to macroscopic length scales and ab initio modelling. Ultrathin metallic and oxidic films, nanoparticles and molecular nanomagnets are all important components of modern hybrid systems that combine unusual properties.

Researchers working with Prof. Heiko Wende are investigating new concepts for magnetic information storage in the EU-funded project NU-MATHIMO “New Materials for High Moment Poles and Shields” in conjunction with SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY IRELAND and cooperation partners of Uppsala University (Sweden). Vitally important to this work is the close collaboration between the scientists in experimental basic research at the UDE and the partners of Uppsala University on the theoretical modelling of magnetic coupling phenomena, and implementation of the new storage concepts in industry directly at the SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY hard drive production facility. The use of so-called rare-earth elements in novel layer systems on account of their high magnetic moments was tested successfully within this project.

NanoBio Materials

Biomaterials are natural or artificial substances that are in contact with biological systems. Their interaction is explored at CENIDE on materials, surfaces, particles and macromolecules. Research in this area benefits from the available expertise in materials and biological sciences (colloids, macromolecules, proteins, imaging) and chemical and physical sciences (synthesis, magnetism, photonics). It also has an impressive array of characterisation methods for modern instrumental nanoparticle colloid analysis (AUZ, DLS, NTA, ADC, AFFF) at its disposal, combined with the DFG Core Facility ICAN for surface analysis of solid materials.

The Collaborative Research Centre SFB/CRC 1093 “Supramolecular Chemistry on Proteins” was also successful in gaining an extension and is being funded by the DFG for a further four years. Five CENIDE members are lead scientists on the project, which explores protein functions and biological issues using the methods of supramolecular chemistry. The teams work hand in hand on this interdisciplinary work: the chemists construct new tweezers for protein molecules, the biologists use them to explore biochemical mechanisms, and from their findings the medical researchers derive new insights for diagnosis and fighting disease.

NanoEnergy Technology

In this area CENIDE is interested in how nanomaterials can be utilised for energy technology applications, especially in energy conversion and storage. The ultramodern NETZ research building offers around 4,000 square metres of space and facilities for gas phase and colloid synthesis of nanomaterials on a scale that is relevant to practical application. The main areas of application are thermoelectrics, catalysis, photovoltaics, lithiumion batteries and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Dr.-Ing. Sebastian Hardt, who launched “HSWmaterials” as a spin-off from NETZ in 2017, recently began marketing customised nanoparticles produced on an industrially relevant scale. “If something works well, you have to commercialise it, otherwise somebody else will,” says Hardt about his idea. He still regularly uses the particle synthesis facilities at NETZ for his preliminary trials and cooperates with the various research groups working there. For commercial production he uses his own facilities outside the UDE.