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A diary of some remarkable events at the IAP and beyond …

Origami with DNA


In our immune system, T-cells are responsible for recognizing and fighting viruses and bacteria. Joschka Hellmeier and Eva Sevcsik of the biophysics group at IAP have devised a DNA origami-based biomimetic interface to study the molecular details of this recognition process. The results of the study were now published in PNAS.

Link to PNAS paper Link to TU press release (in English) Link to TU press release (in German)

Gareth Parkinson Promoted to Full Professor


Gareth S. Parkinson

Gareth Parksinson joined our institute in 2010. Since then, he has done real well: he has published great scientific results (some of them featured on this webpage), he has acquired an FWF Start and and ERC Consolidator grant, and he has established himself as an international leader in the emerging field of 'single atom catalysis'. On top, he has been a wonderful advisor, teacher, and colleague. We are extremely happy that his achievements have now been honored with promotion to 'University Professor'. Congrats, Gareth - well deserved!

New Paper Published in Science


Paper celebrations in 2021

  • A new paper of the surface physics group was published in Science on Thursday. It contains a detailed study of several model “Single-Atom Catalyst” systems, and is the result of several years of work. Unfortunately celebrating in person is a no-go, so a Zoom session had to suffice for now.

*Article: Science 371, 375-379 (2021) DOI: 10.1126/science.abe5757

Job Opportunity: Science Manager for New SFB


  • For our newly-funded “Spezialforschungsbereich” TACO we are looking to fill a post-doc position to mainly help with the administrative, financial, and outreach aspects of the new collaborative research project.

More details can be found here: job_ad_science_manager_sfb_taco.pdf.

Applications and inquiries should be directed to the coordinator, Ulrike Diebold, preferably before February 15, 2021.

Honorary Professorship for Elisabeth Wolfrum

Univ.Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Wolfrum


For her special commitment as an external docent in the teaching of TU Wien, for her outstanding achievements in the field of plasma physics and fusion research and for her merits in the supervision of numerous TU students in the context of their scientific theses at the fusion experiment ASDEX Upgrade, Austria's Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has followed the suggestion of the Faculty of Physics and the Rectorate of TU Wien, and awarded the honorary title of “University Professor” to Mrs. Univ.Doz. Dr. Elisabeth Wolfrum. We congratulate Professor Wolfrum on this honor and hope that this will further intensify the good cooperation between the TU Wien and the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Garching near Munich in the field of fusion research.

The Mechanics of the Immune System

T-cells 2020-Dec-21

When T-cells of our immune system become active, tiny traction forces at the molecular level play an important role. They have now been studied by an international team including Gerhard Schütz from the biophysics group of IAP.

Link to original publication in the Nano Letters, Press release of TU Wien (in English), Press release of TU Wien (in German)

New SFB Project


  • The Austrian Science Fund, FWF, funds our “Spezialforschungsbereich” (SFB) entitled „Taming Complexity in Materials Modeling (TACO)“. In this project, nine research groups will work towards obtaining a better fundamental understanding of complex, multi-component metal oxides. We will develop novel computational approaches based on machine learning, and benchmark computations with experiments that span environments form ultrahigh vacuum to ambient pressures and the aqueous phase, with samples ranging from single crystals to nanomaterials.

The project is coordinated by Ulrike Diebold from our institute, and Gareth Parkinson, Michele Riva, and Michael Schmid are members of the consortium.

TU Press release (in German)

Sad news

em. Prof. Franz Viehböck 2020-Dec-11

  • With great sadness we announce that the former director of the institute emeritus professor Franz Viehböck passed away on December 11th, 2020, only a few days after his 97th birthday. Under his leadership 1970 - 1987, the institute developed into an internationally renowned center for basic research in the field of surface physics and analysis, particle/laser-surface interaction, and ion and plasma physics. The Institute of Applied Physics will continue to honor Franz Viehböck’s memory.

Parte, Obituary, Nachruf, Curriculum Vitae, List of Publications.

Loschmidt Prize for Peter Lackner

Loschmidt Prize Certificate


At today's meeting of the Chemisch-Physikalische Gesellschaft (Chemical-Physical Society Vienna, CPG), a Learned Society founded 1869, Peter Lackner of the Surface Physics group will be awarded the Loschmidt Prize of the CPG for his PhD thesis Surface Science Studies on Zirconia Thin-Film Models Systems. With his PhD thesis, Peter has developed a model system to make the surfaces of ZrO2 accessible to surface science analysis methods and he could solve many open questions, e.g. why ZrO2-supported metal catalysts display the SMSI (strong metal-support interaction) effect. Congratulations!

Ulrike Diebold Wins 2020 Gerhard Ertl Lecture Award

Prof. Gerhard Ertl


The Ertl Lecture Award was established in 2008 by the three Berlin universities (Humboldt University, Technical University and Free University) and the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society to commemorate the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Gerhard Ertl in 2007. The prize includes a one-week research stay at the participating Berlin institutions and a festive evening lecture. This year the prize goes to Ulrike Diebold from our Institute.

The award ceremony and the lecture entitled “Oxide Surface Chemistry at the Atomic Scale” was streamed on Thursday, 10 December 2020.

A video can be viewed here.

Announcement by the Fritz-Haber-Institute Press release TU Wien

Laboratory experiments could unravel the mystery of the Mars moon Phobos

The planet Mars with its moons Phobos and Deimos


What causes the “space weathering” on the Mars moon Phobos? Results of laboratory experiments performed by Paul Szabo and collaborators in the Atomic and Plasma Physics group of IAP give new insights and show that beside the solar wind also the irradiation by particles from Mars plays a decisive role there. These considerations could soon play an important role in the evaluation of real Phobos samples since in 2024 a Japanese space mission will take soil samples from Phobos and bring them back to Earth. The work is part of an international FWF-SNF project together with the University of Bern.

Link to original publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English) ORF.at

Stability of (Photo-) Catalysts for the energy revolution

'Protected' ZnO surface during water splitting 2020-Nov-24

Crucial new technologies such as hydrogen production or carbon capture require new catalysts. Experiments in the Applied Interface Physics Research Devision of IAP headed by Markus Valtiner now show: It's not just the material that matters, but also its atomic surface structure (read more).

The results have been published in the journal ACS Applied Material Interfaces.

Gaede Prize 2021 for Richard Wilhelm

GaedePrize2021 2020-Nov-20

The German Physical Society just announced that Richard Wilhelm receives the Gaede Prize 2021 for his work on ion interaction with 2D materials. Congratulations! The prize will be handed during the DPG Solid State Physics meeting next year, which is postponed until fall 2021.

Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of DPG (in German)

Old Mystery Solved: a "New Kind of Electrons"

Florian Libisch, Philipp Ziegler, Wolfgang Werner und Alessandra Bellissimo (v.l.n.r.) 2020-Nov-19

In materials research, so-called “Auger electrons” also play an important role - they can be emitted by atoms if an electron is first removed from one of the inner electron shells. But now Wolfgang Werner from the Applied and Computational Physics Research Devision of IAP and and his collaborators have succeeded in explaining a completely different type of electron emission, which can occur in carbon materials such as graphite (read more) The results are published in Physical Review Letters

Best Teacher Award 2020 goes to Fritz Aumayr

Best Teacher Award 2020 2020-Oct-21

He and his team had already received the Best Lecture Award with their lecture series on “Grundlagen der Physik” for several years (2017 - 2019) in a row. Now Fritz Aumayr has been awarded as Best Teacher of the Faculty of Physics 2020. After Martin Müller (Best Teacher Award 2018) he is already the second member of our institute to receive the Best Teacher Award. Congratulations!

Press release of TU Wien (in German)

When human and computer agree

The unexpected surface structure of IrO2 2020-Oct-13

Iridium oxide is an excellent catalyst for electrochemical reactions, and used for the production of hydrogen from water by electrolysis. Members of the IAP surface physics group and the Technical University of Munich have discovered that its surfaces – where catalysis happens – are quite different from what scientists have previously thought. The atoms in the near-surface layers rearrange, stabilizing otherwise unfavorable surface orientations. These structures have been found by machine learning and perfectly agree with experimental findings. The results are published in Physical Review Letters.

Fritz Aumayr gives an interview in "DerStandard"

DerStandard 2020-Oct-09

* In today's Austrian newspaper DerStandard Fritz Aumayr gives an interview on the prospects and difficulties of international fusion research. Read the full article (in German) or online.

How to outwit the laws of nature - but not quite

biophysics group


Super resolution microscopy is used all over the world today, but it can be deceptive: Members of our biophysics group in collboration with colleagues from MedUni Vienna show that images are often misinterpreted.

Link to original publication in Nature Communication, Press release of TU Wien (in German),

Karolina Riegler joins our secretary team

2020-Oct-1 Karolina Riegler

  • Since October 1, 2020, Ms. Karolina Riegler is strengthening our administrative team in the secretariat. Welcome to the institute!

Honorary Award of the BMBWF for Anna Niggas

Anna Niggas


Anna Niggas from the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of IAP received the Honorary Award of the Austrian Ministry for Education, Science and Research (BMBWF)! The prize is awarded annually to the best graduates of all Austrian universities and Anna is one of them! The award is also worth 3,000 EUR and will be handed over at the award ceremony on November 20th, 2020, in the “Aula of Sciences”in Vienna.

Nanocarving with highly charged ions

ACS Nano


Carving well-defined holes into a stack of 2D materials is not an easy task, especially if only one atomic layer shall be modified not harming any material underneath. With slow highly charged ions the Atomic and Plasma Physics group was able to achieve this ultimate surface sensitivity by developing a technique for processing novel 2D-materials on an atomic scale. Their most recent work on nanostructuring of freestanding MoS2/graphene heterostructures with highly charged ions was just published by ACS Nano. The fruitful collaboration with the group of Jani Kotakoski (University Vienna) made sample preparation as well as exceptional quality microscopy available. The experiments demonstrated that one can remove the very first monolayer of these structures on a tiny area of only a few square-nanometers.

The results not only show that the ion’s potential energy is deposited in the topmost surface layer, but also that the energy remains in that particular layer. Interesting applications are just ahead!

Link to original publication in ACS Nano, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English)

Max Auwärter Prize for Richard Wilhelm

Richard Wilhelm


This year’s Max Auwärter Award goes to Richard Wilhelm of the Atomic and Plasma Physics group! Every two years, the Max Auwärter Foundation in Balzers, Lichtenstein, awards the renowned Max Auwärter Prize, worth 10,000 euros, in memory of the founder of the “Gerätebauanstalt Balzers”, now Oerlikon Balzers AG. It is awarded to persons up to the age of 35 who have made special achievements in physical or chemical research on surfaces, interfaces or thin films. The Max Auwärter Prize honors significant work in the fields of surface science, interface physics, as well as anorganic and organic thin films. A list of previous awardees can be found here. As one can see, a former member of the Institute's staff, Stefan Cernusca, has already received the Max Auwärter Prize in 2004.

Wa are all proud about your success, Richard! Congratulations!

For more Details please read the TU Wien News.

Prof. Martin Setvin, Charles University, Prague


After more than eight, highly successful years in the surface physics group of our institute, Martin Setvin follows a call to Charles University in Prague, where he assumes a professorship. He will be the head of the Thin Films Group at Departement of Surface and Plasma Physics. For the next two years he will still conduct some research at our institute, however, supported by his FWF grant SUPER.

We extend our warmest congratulations!

Molecules: How to be Gentle

Oxygen configurations on TiO<sub>2</sub> and Martin Setvin (l) and Igor Sokolovic in the lab 2020-June-09

For some molecules it is quite challenging to take images without altering them. O2, for example, dissociates into two atoms when hit with the electrons that are used in traditional imaging techniques that provide the necessary resolution. Using non-contact AFM with and a tip with one single oxygen atom at the very end, the surface physics group has managed to provide undisturbed images of O2 adsorbed on TiO2. This system has been investigated by many research groups throughout the years, and the new images have resolved several mysteries. The results were published in the journal PNAS.

TU Wien press release (in German) Eureka Alert (in English) ORF News

Original Publication: I. Sokolovic et al., Resolving the adsorption of molecular O2 on the rutile TiO2(110)-(1×1) surface by non-contact atomic force microscopy, Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (2020)

Baby Boom at IAP

IAP Babys


There were two baby newborns at the Institute of Applied Physics today: Johannes (left in the picture) son of Markus Valtiner and Josefa (right) daughter of Herbert Biber were born almost simultaneously. A warm welcome!

First experiments are possible again

Who ist the hero of the first hour behind the mask?


The university is slowly opening up again, and we can start some of our experiments. No more than half of our staff is allowed to be present at any time, distance measures are in place and wearing masks is mandatory.

Virtual meeting of the general staff

Meeting of the general staff via video conference


The general staff of our institute is also currently working in the home office. In a virtual meeting today, first experiences were exchanged and problems were discussed. As you can see, despite the adverse circumstances, everyone kept a healthy sense of humour.

Second ERC Advanced Grant for Ulrike Diebold



Ulrike Diebold is awarded an ERC Grant. In her project “Water at Oxides: A Fundamental Approach” or, in short,WatFun, she and her team will develop novel techniques to investigate 'wet' oxide surfaces at the atomic level. The project relies heavily on the surface physics' group capability of combining liquid water with UHV-based measurements, in particular with non-contact AFM. The planned reserach also builds on results from her previous ERC Advanced Grant 'OxideSurfaces'.

ERC Advanced Grant Results TU press release (in German) ORF der standard Cost-Action webpage

Sad news

Prof. Gerhard Betz


With great sadness we announce that our colleague Gerhard Betz passed away on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

The Institute of Applied Physics mourns the loss of a long-time colleague and a good friend!

Gerhard Betz: Obituary, Nachruf

Lab work at IAP suspended – Everybody stay safe!

Group meeting via video conference


As the corona crisis affects our lives worldwide, we too must take a break from experimental work. The safety and well-being of our institute members and friends at the university is more important, so we all work from our home offices. Group meetings are held via video conferencing tools.

Please stay home and wait for the crisis to pass!

Anna Niggas receives the Peter Varga Poster Prize at 3S*20!

Anna Niggas receives the 3S Poster prize


At this year's 3S*20 workshop in St. Christoph/Arlberg, the 3S-Poster Award, named after our recently deceased colleague Peter Varga, was awarded for the second time. The trophy went to Anna Niggas, a PhD student in the Atomic and Plasma Physics group at IAP, for her poster “How to clean a sample when sputtering is not possible because the sample has only one atomic layer”. Congratulations, Anna!

3S*20 a big success


IAP at 3S*20

Every two years, members of our institute organize the legendary Symposium on Surface Science 3S in St. Christoph am Arlberg, Austria. This year we were represented by a particularly large delegation. We discussed and presented cutting edge science (including 7 lectures and 8 posters from IAP and ITP) and had a great time skiing in the Austrian Alps.

Christian-Doppler-Prize 2019 for Mario Brameshuber


Mario Brameshuber

The Christian Doppler Prize is an award presented bi-annually by the Salzburg provincial government for the promotion of scientific work in 4 categories. This year Mario Brameshuber received the award in the category “Molecular Biosciences and Neurosciences“. Congratulations!

Offical announcement of the 2019 winners, Newseintrag Land Salzburg

Franz-Viehböck-Young-Investigator-Prize 2019 for Christian Cupak

Christian Cupak


Christian Cupak from the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group is the recipient of this year's Franz Viehböck Young Investigator Prize. This Prize carries the name of the founder of our institute, Prof. Franz Viehböck (director 1966 – 1987) and is endowed with a sum of 1,000.- Euro. It is awarded annually by the Institute of Applied Physics of TU Wien to the student with the best performance in a poster competition. Emeritus Prof. F. Viehböck and the current director of IAP Prof. F. Aumayr handed over the prize to the winner during the institute's Christmas party. Congratulations!

Loschmidt-Prize for Jan Balajka

2019-Dec-10 Jan Balajka is receiving Loschmidt Prize. Water drop is seen in the background.

  • Jan Balajka is one of two recipients of this year's Loschmidt Prize. This prize is awarded annually by the Austrian Chemical Physics Society CPG for an outstanding PhD thesis. Jan Balajka received his doctorate in 2018 under the guidance of Ulrike Diebold and Michael Schmid; his thesis is entitled “Interaction of Titanium Dioxide Surfaces with Liquid Water”. Dr. Balajka is currently a post-doc at Cornell University, USA. Congratulations!

ERC Grant for Gareth Parkinson

2019-Dec-10 Gareth celebrating

Gareth Parkinson receives a prestigious 'Consolidator Grant' from the European Research Council, ERC for his project entitled “E-SAC: Evolving Single-Atom Catalysis: Fundamental Insights for Rational Design”. He will utilise the tools of surface science to design and investigate systems, where the size of catalytically active nanoclusters is pushed to the ultimate limit: single atoms. Gareth has been working on this general theme for several years, funded by an FWF START prize that he received in 2015. In E-SAC, Gareth and his team will significantly expand the types of materials and reactions studied. They will devise experiments that connect ultrahigh vacuum surface science with 'realistic' conditions and environments.

Press release TU Wien (in German)

Science Prize of the City of Vienna 2019 goes to Ulrike Diebold

2019-Dec-06 Diebold

Since 1947, the City of Vienna has been awarding its Science Prize. The list of winners includes renowned scientists such as Lise Meitner, Erwin Schrödinger, and Viktor E. Frankl. This year the prize goes to Prof. Ulrike Diebold from our Institute of Applied Physics (Press release of the city of Vienna (in German)). During the award ceremony at Vienna's city hall, she was introduced with a short video (in Viennese German).

Press release TU Wien

Franz Viehböck celebrates his 96th birthday

Franz Viehböck 96 years old


Emeritus Prof. Franz Viehböck, the institute's first director from 1966 to 1987, celebrated his 96th birthday today together with his family and a small delegation from the IAP celebrated with him. We wish him a long life in health.

Young investigators compete for the Franz Viehböck prize


The Poster Session for the Franz Viehböck Young Investigator Prize 2019 was well attended this afternoon. 13 young scientists presented their work to an interested audience. The large number of excellent poster presentations made it anything but easy for the jury. The winner will be announced at the institute's Christmas party.

Recognition, Cash, and Career Advancement for Martin Setvin


For his outstanding habilitation thesis, Martin Setvin receives the 'Förderpreis des Kardinal Innitzer Studienfonds', which is awarded annually by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Schönborn. Setvin is also a recent recipient of a prestigious GACR EXPRO grant, which supports excellence in fundamental research. His project “Ferroelectric Perovskites for Energy Conversion” was funded with 1.3 M Euros. He will use this money to build his research group when he assumes his professorship at Charles University in Prague.

Doctor Honoris Causa

Ulrike receives her honorary doctorate


Ulrike Diebold receives an honorary doctorate from the Brno University of Technology (VUT), in a ceremony as part of the celebrations of the university's 120th anniversary. The ties between TU Wien and VUT have become even stronger.

Press release (in Czech)

A new assistent professor at our institute!

Assistent Prof. Richard Wilhelm


Richard Wilhelm (134-03) has been appointed as Assistant Professor (tenure track) for “Ion and Plasma Physics” starting on November 1st, 2019.

Congratulations to Richard!

Slow electrons for cancer treatment

Janine Schwestka


Ion beam radiation therapy uses complicated atomic-physical effects to fight cancer cells. Janine Schwestka and co-workers have now identified a new mechanism that directly emitts low energy electrons, which are very effective in destroying cancer cells. An effect that has received little attention in this context plays an important role, the so-called “Interatomic Coulomb Decay” (ICD). The result has now been published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Link to original publication in J.Phys.Chem.Lett., Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English)

START Prize awarded to Richard Wilhelm

Richard Wilhelm 2019-June-17

  • Richard Wilhelm of the Atomic and Plasma Physics Research Division of IAP has received the START Prize, the highest Austrian award for outstanding young researchers. Congratulations! The prize money will enable him to build the world's first ultrafast ion source at TU Wien within the next six years. With now four START awardees, one Wittgenstein laureate, and two recipients of ERC grants, Richard also makes our institute one of the most successful institutions in this respect!

TU press release (German)

"Best Lecture Award 2019"

logo 2019-June-13

  • It already seems to be some kind of tradition. For the third time in a row (after 2017 & 2018), the Institute of Applied Physics won the Best Lecture Award of the Faculty of Physics of the TU Vienna in 2019. The prize, which honors outstanding achievements in teaching, goes to the “VU Grundlagen der Physik Ia und Ib”. Congratulations to all lecturers (Aumayr, Werner, Müller, Laimer, Wilhelm, Brameshuber, Gebeshuber, Mittendorfer, Schmid, Mohn, Setvin, Parkinson, Sponar, Kluck, Ingerle & Gugler). (read more).

Senior Scientist Michele Riva

Michele Riva


  • Michele Riva assumes his new duties as senior scientist. He will spearhead our efforts in the epitaxial growth of complex metal oxides, and support the surface physics group and IAP. Congratulations, Michele!

NEW CANON iR-ADV C5535i printer

First "Peter Varga 3S-Poster Prize" awarded

Ales Cahlik 2019-March-14

  • At this year's 3S*19 workshop in Baqueira-Beret (Spain), the 3S-Poster Award, named after our recently deceased colleague Peter Varga, was awarded for the first time. The trophy went to Ales Cahlik from the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague (1st person left) for his poster “Observation of electronic end-states in hydrogen-bonded organic 1D molecular chains on Au(111)”

"DerStandard" features fusion research at TU Wien

DerStandard 2019-Feb-20

  • In today's Austrian newspaper DerStandard Fritz Aumayr gives an interview on the prospects and difficulties of international fusion research, the Austrian participation in EUROfusion and in particular the contributions from TU Wien towards the realisation of fusion as a future energy source.

Read the full article (in German).

TU Ball 2019

At midnight 2019-Jan-31

  • Our university's social highlight of the year is the ball in the formidable Wiener Hofburg, the emperor's palace. Many IAP member attend. Some of us gather at midnight, getting ready to dance the Fledermaus Quadrille.

Christiana Hörbiger Prize for Paul Szabo!

Paul Szabo 2019-Jan-25

  • Paul Szabo, member of the the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of IAP, has received the Christiana HÖRBIGER Prize. The prize serves to promote the international mobility of young scientists. Congratulations!

Polarons catch editor's eye


Sad news

Peter_Varga 2018-Oct-27

  • With great sadness we announce that our colleague Peter Varga has passed on October 27, 2018. Peter Varga was deeply invested in TU Wien and the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP), and he was a major force in shaping our institute into one of the world's leading centers of surface physics.
    His funeral took place on November 5, 2018 in Maria Enzersdorf (Romantikerfriedhof, Grenzgasse 7).
    The Institute of Applied Physics mourns the loss of a long-time colleague and a good friend!

Peter Varga: Obituary, Nachruf, curriculum vitae, List of Publications.

3SAT magazine "nano" reports on research at IAP

nano_3SAT 2018-Oct-19

  • Constant bombardement of the planet Mercury by solar wind ions leads to erosion of the planetary surface and the formation of a thin exosphere. The interaction processes can be simulated in laboratory experiments carried out in the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group at IAP. Such data are of interest for the ESA mission BepiColombo, Europe's first Mercury mission. A report on this research project was broadcasted today in the popular TV science show “nano” on 3SAT and is also available online here.

The Diploma Thesis Award 2018 of the City of Vienna goes to Paul Szabo

Paul Szabo 2018-Sep-21

  • Once a year, the City of Vienna awards prizes to particularly outstanding diploma theses at the Vienna University of Technology (one per faculty). This year's award winner of the Faculty of Physics is Paul Szabo. His thesis Experimental and Simulated Sputtering of Gold, Iron and Wollastonite with a Catcher-QCM Setup was carried out at the IAP Atomic and Plasma Physics Group. Results of his Thesis have been published in several papers and were also featured in a Press release of TU Wien. Congratulations! The award ceremony will take place on Friday, 19 October 2018 at 13.00 c.t. in the Kuppelsaal of TU Wien.

ÖPG Students' Award for Sabrina Mayr

2018-Sept-12 Sabrina Mayr (right) at the Awards Ceremony

  • At the Annual Meeting of the Austrian Physical Society (ÖPG), Sabrina Mayr was awarded the Students' Award for the best master thesis. Her thesis Studies of Few-Monolayer Zirconia Films and Metal Nucleation on Zirconia Surfaces was carried out in the IAP Surface Physics Group. Amongst many other achievements, Sabrina obtained the by far best STM images of zirconia surfaces in the world. One paper based on her work is already in press, further ones will follow. Congratulations Sabrina!

The FWF turns 50, and IAP members (and many friends) help celebrating

2018-Sept-8 The Materials Pavillion at FWF Be Open Festival

  • The Austrian Science Fund, FWF, celebrates its 50th anniversary with the BE OPEN Science & Society Festival. This 5-day event takes place at Maria Theresien Platz in Vienna. Frontier research in Austria is featured in 18 pavilions. We are responsible for pavilion 8 on materials research. We assemble an team consisting of many IAP members from the Surface Physics, Biophysics, Interface Physics, and Atomic & Plasma Physics groups, colleagues from Materials Chemistry, Synthetic Chemistry, and friends from the Nanophysics group in Graz. Together we share our enthusiasm for fundamental research on materials, and we try to entertain and educate the public as best we can.

The Importance of Trace Impurities and how to Avoid them

2018-Aug-24 The cleanest water drop comes from an icicle

  • Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is highly versatile material, used, e.g., for self-cleaning mirrors. When bringing one of its surfaces in contact with water, researchers around the world have observed a structure that was interpreted as ordering of water molecules or caused by carbon dioxide dissolved in the water. Jan Balajka and colleagues of the IAP surface physics group, together with Melissa Hines (Cornell University) could disprove these ideas. They have used what is probably the purest water drop on Earth, created from an icicle in ultrahigh vacuum (see photo). Surprisingly, the TiO2 surface structures turned out to come from trace impurities in the atmosphere such as formic acid, present in concentrations of only 1:1000000000! These results were published in the prestigeous journal Science.

The article in ScienceAbstract with access to full text
Perspective Article by Jeong Young Park
TU Press release in English and German
Media coverage: Der StandardORF ScienceSüddeutsche ZeitungDie WeltDie ZeitSternNew Scientistphys.orgwissenschaft.dechemie.deChemistry World, U.K.ChemEuropeLive Science, U.S.A.Index, HungaryNew Scientist, U.K.Sciences Avenir, FranceBBC Mundoc&en News

Immune system: T-cells are designed for speed

2018-July-17 T-cell study

  • T cells, a key component of our immune system, detect smallest amounts of bacterial or viral portions with their T cell receptor (TCR) and serve as an important proponent of the defence mechanism. One explanation, why T cells are super-sensitive is that the TCRs are concentrated at certain areas on the membrane of T cells. Our group, in collaboration with the Medical University of Vienna and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, could show that TCRs are actually distributed randomly on the cellular membrane of resting T cells and not concentrated in nano-clusters as believed earlier. This study has now been published in Nature Immunology.

The paper can be found here: Nature Immunology (2018)

TU Wien News (in German).

Richard Wilhelm receives the IBMM Prize 2018!

IBMM Prize for Richard Wilhelm IBMM Prize for Richard Wilhelm 2018-June-29

  • For his contribution to “the understanding of highly charged ions and their interactions with solid surfaces” Richard Wilhelm from the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group has been honored with this year’s IBMM Prize. The International Advisory Committee of the International Conference on Ion Beam Modification of Material (IBMM) awards this prize biennially to an early career researcher (up to 7 years since PhD) who has made an outstanding contribution to the ion-beam-modification field.
    The competition for this year’s prize was particularly strong, so we are justly proud of Richard's achievements. As the winner of the IBMM Prize Richard not only received a cash award but also gave an invited talk at the IBMM conference this week in San Antonio Texas. Congratulations Richard!

TU Wien News (in German)

Inaugural Lecture Markus Valtiner

Antrittsvorlesung Valtiner


  • Today Markus Valtiner gave his long-awaited inaugural lecture at the TU Vienna. The audience (among them vice rector Fröhlich, the deans Burgdörfer and Danninger as well as colleagues of the faculties of physics and chemistry, representatives of industry, students, friends and family) got an entertaining insight into the world of corrosion and liquid-solid interfaces, supported by practical demonstrations.

Building Bridges with Water Molecules

2018-June-27 Water, water everywhere!

  • Our paper about water adsorption on Fe3O4(001) has been published in PNAS. We are particularly proud of this work it was a very complex problem and it took the best of our capabilities in imaging, spectroscopy and theory to unravel. In the picture you see on of the structures formed in which water molecules adsorb on the surface Fe cations, with additional molecules bridging the gaps in a periodic fashion. Congratulations to all involved!

The paper can be found here: “Water agglomerates on Fe3O4(001)”PNAS (2018)
and the usual brilliant write up from Florian Aigner here: TU Wien News. It was picked up by news media der Standard, apa

Prof. Franz Viehbock attends his granddaughter's graduation ceremony

Franz Viehböck


  • The founder and first director (1966 - 1987) of the IAP Institute Prof. Franz Viehböck (already considerable 94 years old) participated today in the graduation ceremony of his granddaughter Carina, who successfully completed the Biomedical Engineering Master (and before that the Bachelor in Physics) at the TU Wien. The photo shows him together with his son Franz Viehböck (Austria's only “Austronaut” in space to date), his granddaughter Carina and the current director of the institute, Fritz Aumayr, who led the ceremony on behalf of our dean.

Christiana Hörbiger Prize for Janine!

Janine Schwestka 2018-June-25

  • Janine Schwestka, member of the the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of IAP, has received the Christiana HÖRBIGER Prize.
    The prize serves to promote the international mobility of young scientists.

"Double Jackpot" for IAP at this year's Best Teaching Awards

Best lecture award 2017 and 2018


  • At today's teaching award ceremony, the institute cleared all available prizes for the faculty of physics, leaving no chance for the other institutes.
    The prize for “Best Teacher 2018” of the faculty of physics went to Martin Müller, while the course “Grundlagen der Physik III” (Fundamentals of Physics III) taught

by Fritz Aumayr and Martin Müller received the “Best Lecture Award 2018” of the Faculty of Physics, TU Wien. The prize honors excellence in teaching and consists of a trophy, a certificate and 5000 euros to be spent on new teaching equipment. This year the prizes were awarded for the second time. Last year the institute had already received the Best Lecture award for the course “Grundlagen der Physik I”.

Press release of TU Wien (in German), YouTube Video

Habilitation Martin Setvin

2018-June-13 Dozent Dr. Martin Setvin

  • Martin Setvin successfully defends his habilitation thesis. He soon will receive the 'venia legendi', the right to teach and to officially supervise students' bachelor, master, and PhD theses at TU Wien. Congratulations!

The true power of the solar wind

Solar Wind


  • The solar wind, a steady stream of mainly protons and few multiply charged heavier ions from the sun, causes significant erosion upon impact on the surface of atmosphere-less planets like Mercury or on the moon. In a recent paper Paul Szabo and co-workers now show that previous models of this process are incomplete. The effects of solar wind bombardment are in some cases much more drastic than previously thought. The role of solar wind constituents heavier than protons and in particular the role of the particles charge state has so far been underestimated.

Link to original publication in Icarus, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English), ORF.at, derStandard, futurezone.at

Reinforcement for our administrative team

2018-May-2 Guni Yasin

  • Since May 2, 2018 Mrs. Gunhild Yasin has joined our secretary team. Welcome to IAP!

T cell antigen receptors act alone: longstanding immunological mystery solved!

Mario Brameshuber 2018-April-17

  • As an indispensable part of our immune system, T cells protect us from the onslaught of bacteria and viruses and also from cancer. What happens on a molecular level when T cells detect suspicious activity in the body? In a recent paper, Mario Brameshuber and co-workers from the Biophysics group and from the Medical University of Vienna revealed that the immune receptors of T cells operate in unsuspected ways. While most opinion leaders in the field reasoned that T cell receptors must interact with one another for effective immune-signaling, the Viennese study shows: T cell receptors act alone. The study has now been published in the journal “Nature Immunology”.

The article in Nature Immunology; Read-only link of publication.

TU Press release in English and German
Media coverage: derStandardAPA

"look! Business Award" for Ille Gebeshuber

Look! Business Award for Ille Gebeshuber 2018-April-11

  • For the fourth time, women with vision and courage to take risks have been awared with the “look! Business Award”, women in management positions, founders and managers. Ille Gebeshuber was honored in the category “MINT Industries”. The laudation was held by Karin Zipperer from ASFINAG, the sponsor of this category. Congratulations Ille!

NEW Poster Printer (Canon imagePROGRAF iPF785)


New Poster Printer

  • We got a new Poster Printer. Location is the same like the old one but you need a new driver (see installation guide).

The Canon imagePROGRAF iPF785 has the IP-Addresss

Vibration Isolation Patent

2018-March-20 High-resolution microscope suspended for vibration isolation

  • The Surface Physics Group has patented a device for suspending a load in a vibration-insulated manner, designed for high-resolution microscopy and nanotechnology. While other similar instruments are usually placed in the basement of a building in a quiet environment, the low-temperature non-contact AFM/STM at the IAP/TU Wien suspended according to the invention delivers excellent performance in spite of its place in the 5th floor of a building in downtown Vienna! The patented vibration isolation system also features accurate levelling even under changing load distribution during operation.

For more information, see the TU press release (English, German), the Youtube movie, article in Der Standard or the Feature in Nature on high-performance microscopy

Gaede-Prize for Gareth Parkinson

2018-March-13 Gareth receives the Gaede Prize

  • Gareth Parkinson is awarded the Gaede Prize at the Spring Meeting of the German Physical Society in Berlin, Germany. This prize is given out annually to a young scientist who has made outstanding contributions to the field of vacuum science and technology.


Avoiding the Polar Catastrophe

The labyrinth is the way out 2018-Feb-02

  • Ionic crystals - materials that are composed of positively and negatively charged ions - can be put into a highly unfavorable situation. When split in half along certain crystallographic directions the electrostatic energy diverges. To alleviate this so-called polar catastrophe, materials can react in a variety of ways. In a recent paper, Martin Setvin and co-workers from the Surface Physics group and from the University of Vienna show the surface of a KTaO3(001) single crystal after cleaving, heating, and exposure to water vapor. Six different mechanisms to compensate polarity are encountered. One of the most pretty solutions, a nano-labyrinth with 4-5 atom-wide walls, is shown in the image on the right.

The article in ScienceAbstract with access to full text
TU Press release in English and German
Media coverage: die PresseAPAWelt der Physik

Loschmidt-Prize for Elisabeth Gruber

Award Ceremony at Univ. Wien 2018-Jan-23

  • One week after recieving the Hannspeter Winter Award from TU Wien, Elisabeth Gruber was awarded the next prize: Elisabeth Gruber is one of two recipients of this year's Loschmidt Prize. This prize is awarded annually by the Austrian Chemical Physics Society CPG for an outstanding PhD thesis. Elisabeth Gruber received her doctorate in 2017 under the guidance of Prof. Friedrich Aumayr; her thesis is entitled “Interaction of Ions with 3D and 2D materials”. Dr. Gruber is currently a post-doc at Aarhus University. Congratulations!

"JSPS 141st Committee Award" for Peter Varga

Peter Varga 2017-Dec-4

  • During the opening ceremony of the ALC'17 conference in Kauai/Hawaii today Peter Varga received the Award of the 141st Committee on Microbeam Analysis of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) for (quote) ”… his distinguished contribution on the clarification of surface phenomena by atomic level investigation and the development of novel functional materials”! Congratulations, Peter!

Hannspeter Winter award for Elisabeth Gruber

Elisabeth Gruber 2017-Nov-13 (2018-Jan-19)

  • The Hannspeter Winter Award, named after our former institute director, was established at the TU Wien in 2007 and honours achievements in research in PhD projects by female graduate students. It also aims to increase awareness of notable achievements of women in the field of research and technology. The prize is awarded annually and this year our institute is proud to announce that it has been awarded to Dr. Elisabeth Gruber who recently finished her PhD thesis under the supervision of Fritz Aumayr. Congratulations Elisabeth! The award ceremony will take place on Jan. 19th, 2018 at 1 pm in the Kuppelsaal of TU Wien.

Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English)

Kardinal Innitzer Award for Gareth Parkinson

Gareth Parkinson at the Palace of the Austrian Arch Bishop 2017-Nov-11

  • For his outstanding habilitation thesis, Gareth Parkinson is awarded the 'Förderpreis' of the Kardinal Innitzer Studienstiftung. The award ceremony took place at the formidable Episcopal Palace, located in the center of Vienna. Gareth's family came all the way from England to celebrate.

Markus Valtiner wins AVS Peter Mark Memorial Award

Don Baer, Head of the AVS Award Committee with Awardee Markus Valtiner 2017-Nov-01

  • Each year the AVS awards one outstanding young scientist the 'Peter Mark Memorial Award, named for the Editor of the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology. This year our new professor, Markus Valtiner, has received this high recognition “For advancing understanding of physical and chemical mechanisms at molecular, nano- and microscales that impact adhesion and friction at electrified interfaces and for the development of novel stimuli-responsive materials”. Congratulations, Prof. Valtiner!

Ille C. Gebeshuber declared "Austrian of the Year 2017 (Category Research)"

Ille Gebeshuber 2017-Sep-25

  • During the Austria'17 Gala yesterday Ille Gebeshuber was declared “Austrian of the Year 2017 in the Category Research”. Our congratulations to the proud winner!

Applied Interface Physics - a new research area at IAP

Valtiner group 2017-Oct-01

  • With the arrival of Professor Markus Valtiner and the first members of his team today, a new research area is being established at IAP. Welcome to Vienna and welcome to the IAP!

A portrait of new professor (in German) can be found here

The solution to an old riddle

ICD 2017-Sep-08

  • For more than 20 years atomic physicists have speculated about the mechanism, which allows “hollow atoms” to deexcited with a few femtoseconds. Experiments conducted by Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of Fritz Aumayr with highly charged ions and graphene now show that the reason is an effect so far not accounted for: the so-called “interatomic coulomb decay”. Their results have now been published in the journal “Physical Review Letters” and have been highlighted there as “editors' suggestion”.

Link to original publication in PRL
Press release of TU Wien in German, in English
media coverage: Der Standard, futurezone.at

Tenure for Gareth Parkinson

2017-September-01 Gareth and his research group

  • We are extremely pleased to learn that Gareth Parkinson has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. He will continue his highly-successful research into the surface science of heterogeneous catalysis together with his growing surface physics subgroup focused on iron oxides.

Habilitation for Stijn Mertens

2017-July-10 Stijn Mertens

  • Stijn Mertens successfully defends his habilitation thesis. This is the last step towards receiving the venia legendi, the right to teach and to officially supervise graduate students at TU Wien. Congratulations, Stijn!

Newly appointed Senior Scientist at IAP

Senior Scientist Dr. Mario Brameshuber

2017-July-1 * Since July 1st, 2017 Dr. Mario Brameshuber supports the Biophysics Research Area as Senior Scientist.

"Best Lecture Award 2017" in physics goes to Fritz Aumayr, Martin Müller and Wolfgang Werner

Best Lecture Award 2017 logo


* The course “Grundlagen der Physik I” (Fundamentals of Physics I) taught by Fritz Aumayr, Martin Müller and Wolfgang Werner received the “Best Lecture Award 2017” of the Faculty of Physics in a ceremony held today at TU Wien. The prize consisting of a trophy, a certificate and 5000 Euros to be spent on new teaching equipment was awarded for the first time and and honors excellence in teaching.

Press release of TU Wien (in German),YouTube Video

Florian Laggner leaves for Princeton

(c) die Presse 2017-May-20

* After finishing his PhD in the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group Florian Laggner is now heading for Princeton (New Jersey - USA) to start his PostDoc in Fusion research on June 1, 2017 at the prestigeous Princeton University. But before he left, he gave an interview to the Austrian Newspaper Die Presse (in German).

A new face in our administrative team!

Katharina Pois 2017-May-17

  • Mrs. Katharin Pois now supports our administrative team as part-time employee. Welcome to IAP!

Promotion "sub auspiciis" for Roland Bliem

2017-May-16 Dr. Roland Bliem

  • Roland Bliem graduates with a "promotio sub auspiciis praesidentis rei publicae"”. This honour is based on top academic performance and is awarded to only a handful of PhD students in the whole country. With a GPA of 1.0 (the best grade on Austria's 5-point scale) from high school all the way through his studies at the university, Roland is one of the selected few. A big day for Roland, the institute, and the surface physics group.

TU press release (in German) der standard Tiroler Tageszeitung

Switching Oxygen Molecules On and Off

2017-March-14 The qPlus sensor with the tip at the left

  • The oxygen molecule O2 is chemically inert (except at high temperatures), but becomes reactive when an additional electron gets added. This process happens in biology, catalysis and can be also triggered by light on some surfaces. Martin Setvin of the Surface Physics Group managed to switch oxygen molecules adsorbed at a titanium dioxide surface back and forth between the non-reactive (neutral) and reactive (O2-) state and examine them in detail using non-contact atomic-force microscopy (nc-AFM) with the tiny tip of a so-called qPlus sensor (image). The results were published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).

Publication in PNAS
TU Press Release in English and German
Media Coverage: APA · Der Standard · ORF · MyScience · Chemie.de

Eva Sevcsik receives Elise Richter Fellowship

Dr. Eva Sevcsik


* The Elise Richter Fellowship by the FWF provides research funds to support the academic career of highly qualified female scientists and scholars and to enhance their university career. Dr. Eva Sevcsik was officially awarded the fellowship by the president of the FWF, Klement Tockner, and the department head of the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Barbara Weitgruber, earlier this year. The project titled “Lipid Interactions of the T-Cell Receptor Complex” was started in April 2017 in the Biophysics group of Prof. Gerhard Schütz and in close collaboration with the Medical University of Vienna.

Molecule flash mob

CSM flashmob 2017-Jan-19

  • Neurotransmitter transporters are some of the most popular transport proteins in research as they play a major role in the processing of signals in the brain. A joint study by our biophysics group and the Medical University of Vienna has now successfully demonstrated for the first time the structural impact of membrane lipids on medically relevant serotonin transporters.

Link to original publication in Nature Communications, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English), Press release of MedUni Wien (in German)

Elisabeth Gruber hits the TU headlines for the second time in this year!

Elisabeth Gruber 2016-Dec-21

  • With her first-author paper published today in Nature Communications, Elisabeth Gruber, PhD student in the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of Fritz Aumayr, made the TU headlines already for the second time in this year (see the news from 2016-Aug-29 below). In her work, she demonstrated that graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, is able to provide tens of electrons for charge neutralization of a slow highly charged ion within a few femtoseconds only. This in turn results in extremely high current densities, which the graphene can withstand without suffering permanent damage.

Link to original publication in Nature Communications, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English), ORF.at, Der Standard, APA Press release of HZDR (in German)

Habilitation Gareth Parkinson

Gareth Parkinson 2016-October-03

  • Gareth Parkinson successfully defends his habilitation and our institute gains a newly-minted 'Dozent'. Congratulations!

Kathi Dobes selected as “FEMtech Female Expert of the Month”

Katharina Dobes (© Klaus Ranger - Evotion) 2016-September-24

Meteorite Impact on a Nano Scale

HCI-surface interaction 2016-August-29

  • A meteorite impacting the earth under a grazing angle of incidence can

do a lot of damage; it may travel a long way, carving a trench into the ground until it finally penetrates the surface. The impact site may be vaporized, there can be large areas of molten ground. All that remains is a crater, some debris, and an extensive trail of devastation on both sides of the impact site.

Hitting a surface with high-energy, heavy ions has quite similar effects – only on a much smaller scale. In a recent publication researchers from the IAP Atomic and Plasma Physics Group have investigated the microscopic structures which are formed when ions are fired at crystals at oblique angles of incidence and could shed light on the underlying formation mechanism.

Link to original publication. Press release of the TU Wien (in German), Press release of the TU Wien (in English), ORF, APA article Der Standard

We welcome our new electronics technician!

2016-Aug-16 H. Zlabinger

  • We welcome Mr. Heinrich Zlabinger, who started working in our electronics workshop today.

The Pairing and Separation of Pt Atoms

2016-July-28 A Pt dimer at the Fe<sub>3</sub>O<sub>4</sub> surface

  • Sintering - the aggregation of catalytically active, metallic nanoparticles into bigger clumps - is one of the major causes of catalyst de-activation. This is particularly important in the emerging field of single-atom catalysis, the main research topic of the START project of Gareth Parkinson. A detailed STM and DFT study, mainly conducted by Roland Bliem, and published in PNAS, shows how single Pt atoms on the Fe3O4(001) surface are made mobile by CO, and how they merge into bigger clusters. Interestingly, the smallest cluster, a Pt dimer, is stabilized by the CO molecules. When the sample is heated, and the CO desorbs, and the two Pt atoms separate again.

Original Publication
TU press release APA (subscribers only) der Standard Tiroler Tageszeitung

We welcome our new secretary!

2016-July-1 D. Harantova

  • Mrs. Dana Harantova has joined our administrative team today. Welcome to IAP!

Making it Stick on the Cover of Nature


  • The article "Switching stiction and adhesion of a liquid on a solid" by Stijn Mertens et al. is featured on this week's cover of Nature Magazine. The work describes dynamic contact angle measurements of a single drop of 0.1 M HClO4 on a single layer of BN supported on Rh(111). Friction can be changed reversibly by applying an appropriate electrochemical potential that leads to the intercalation of H between BN and the Rh.

Christian Doppler Award for Roland Bliem

2016-June-17 LR Martina Berthold, Daniel Rettenwander, Roland Bliem (http://service.salzburg.gv.at/lkorrj/Index?cmd=detail_ind&nachrid=56686)

  • Roland Bliem, a PhD student in our Institute, has received the Christian-Doppler-Preis 2015 in the category Physics for his work on metal adsorption on the magnetite (001) surface. The Christian-Doppler-Preis is the science award of Roland's home province Salzburg, awarded biennially to researchers under 40 years of age. It is named after the famous physicist Christian Doppler who was born in Salzburg in 1803.

Salzburger Nachrichten
Aktuelles TU Wien

Ille Gebeshuber returns from Malaysia

2016-April-1 Prof. Ille C. Gebeshuber

  • After more than 7 years of leave from TU Wien Prof. Ille C. Gebeshuber returns from Kuala Lumpur, where she worked at the National University of Malaysia (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia). Welcome back Ille!

Herbert Störi awarded with "Ehrenbürgerschaft der TU Wien"

Herbert Störi awared with "honorary citicenship of TU Wien" 2016-March-1

  • Honoring his commitment and exemplary leadership in establishing the super computers “Vienna Scientific Cluster” (VSC1, VSC2, and VSC3), our rector awards Prof. Herbert Störi an honorary citizenship of TU Wien (Ehrenbürgerschaft der TU Wien). Congratulations Herbert!

TU Webnews (in German)

Zbynek Novotny receives Loschmidt Prize

Zybnek Novotny (4th from left 2016-January-19

  • Dr. Zbynek Novotny is one of two recipients of this year's Loschmidt Prize. This prize is awarded annually by the Austrian Chemical Physics Society for an outstanding PhD thesis. Zbynek received his doctorate in 2013 under the guidance of Prof. Ulrike Diebold; his thesis is entitled “The Fe3O4 Surface as an Adsorption Template”. He is currently a post-doc the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Washington State, U.S. Congratulations!

TU Webnews (in German)

Archive of Previous IAP News (2006-2015)

news/index.txt · Last modified: 2021-02-01 20:05 by Ulrike Diebold