Construction in Tiny Dimensions



The effects of high-energy beam on nano components and human cells are investigated in detail by scientists in Frankfurt and Darmstadt. One goal of the NanoBiC project is to construct – like craftsmen – functional elements on surfaces e.g. transistors, sensors, quantum dots or memory elements according to a building plan. A further aim is to acquire detailed knowledge of the effects of cosmic rays on human cells which is particularly important for manned space missions. Over four years the Beilstein-Institut funds the co-operation of the University of Frankfurt, the Darmstadt University of Technology, the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt and the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) with 3.6 million Euros.

“NanoBiC” stands for “Nano, Bio, Chemistry and Computing” and deals with procedures in molecular dimensions externally stimulated by focused particle beams. The joint research project focuses on the principles that determine the self-organization of matter at the tiniest dimensions after very localized external disturbance. “The driving forces in the development of nanotechnology”, the spokesman for the research group Prof. Michael Huth, Institute of Physics, at the University of Frankfurt, describes the fundamental aspects of the research activities, “is the fascination of the very small and the realization that the assembly of even just a few atoms can lead to interesting properties.”

One important research aim of NanoBiC is to decompose specifically molecules with electron or ion beams to place precisely residues or to trigger chemical modifications on surfaces. This takes place at magnitudes of about 1 nanometer up to 100 nanometers – as a comparison: the thickness of a human hair is about 100,000 nanometers. In technical applications ultrafine sensors, ultra high density data storage as well as novel micro-magnetic or light-emitting components could be created. An additional goal of NanoBiC is to understand the effects of ion and electron beams on living cells at nanoscale.

Under the Beilstein-Institut funding, grants are awarded for 27 scientists – both at postgraduate or postdoctoral level - who work on the project at the participating institutions. The Beilstein-Institut is a non-profit foundation for the advancement of chemical sciences located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. NanoBiC complements the foundation’s aim to support the field of nanotechnology. In addition to NanoBiC, the Beilstein-Institut publishes the “Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology” – an online Open Access journal. Moreover, in May 2010, the international Beilstein Symposium “Functional Nanoscience” took place in Bozen, Italy.