The aim is to identify, understand, and control the nature of various physical phenomena and functionalities of condensed matter systems. We approach this problem using a variety of linear and non-linear optical techniques and by developing microscopic models to describe the observed phenomena.
The research group Optical Condensed Matter Physics is part of the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, a research institute within the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University of Groningen.
In 1999, Ben Feringa, Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen, created the first light-driven molecular motor. These tiny motors could be used in all kinds of nanotechnology applications, for example in the delivery of drugs. However, they are powered by ultraviolet light, which can be harmful. Scientists have been looking for ways to use near-infrared light instead, but all attempts so far have been unsuccessful. Researchers from the University of Groningen now designed an antenna that absorbs energy from near-infrared light. This antenna was attached to the motor molecule, where it transmits the energy directly to the axle that drives motor movement. The result is a motor molecule that is powered by near-infrared light, which brings medical applications one step closer.
In an all-RUG collaboration, the Optical Condensed Matter Physics and Theory of Condensed Matter Physics (both at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials) groups have joined forces with the Molecular Dynamics group (Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute) to obtain a complete picture of the static and dynamic fluctuations of individual molecular nanotubes – an artificial analogue of natural light-harvesting antennae. The researchers used a powerful combination of single-molecule photoluminescence, ultrafast correlation spectroscopies, and theoretical multiscale modeling to obtain quantitative description of the molecular scale fluctuations in large supramolecular assemblies. The scientists demonstrated that although there exists considerable disorder at molecular scale, different nanotubes are remarkably similar to each other in their optical properties, because the disorder at the optical level is strongly suppressed by intermolecular interactions. This marks an important step towards a complete understanding of how delocalized excited states in large self-assembled systems are spatially and temporally constrained and mobilized by static and dynamic disorder.
The results of this work are published in The Journal of the American Chemical Society (B. Kriete, A. S. Bondarenko, R. Alessandri, I. Patmanidis, V. V. Krasnikov, T. L. C. Jansen, S. J. Marrink, J. Knoester, and M. S. Pshenichnikov, “Molecular versus excitonic disorder in individual artificial light-harvesting systems”, Journal of the American Chemical Society., 2020; JACS first online 28 September 2020).
“Why disordered light-harvesting systems produce ordered outcomes” -- popular story by Rene Fransen (in English)
Maxim Pchenitchnikov together with Thomas Jansen (Theory of Condensed Matter group were awarded a Dutch Research Council (NWO) grant for the proposal entitled “Self-assembly pathways of an artificial light harvesting complex”. The aim of the project is to study how thousands and thousands of molecules organize themselves into highly-ordered functional structures without external guidance. The key to elucidating self-assembly intermediate stages and their kinetics is to confront the spectroscopic data with those predicted theoretical calculations.