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

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

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 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)

Thank you Herbert!

Prof. Herbert Störi


  • After 9 years of service Prof. Herbert Störi ended his term as head (“Institutsvorstand”) of IAP as planned and handed over his office to Fritz Aumayr. From November 9th, 2006 until December 31st, 2015 he guided the institute through most difficult times and managed to expand the lab and office space of our institute considerably. During this period, two new Professors were hired and the measurable “output” of the institute increased tremendously both in quality and quantity. Herbert Störi will still continue his research work and teaching as a Professor.

Herbert, we all are very grateful for your work! Thank you very much!

Pole dancing water molecules - Paper in Nature Materials

A pole dancing water molecule (Animation, click twice)


  • Our research on strontium ruthenate surfaces shows how water dissociates and strips off one hydrogen atom upon adsorption. Although the hydrogen atom and the remaining OH group are physically separated, the pieces continue to interact through a weak hydrogen bond. This interaction leads to an interesting dynamic behavior, where the OH group circles the stripped off hydrogen atom. The result were published in Nature Materials. Click twice on the animation and watch the water dance.

The paper
TU press release in English or German
APA der Standard

Fritz Aumayr - Full Professor of Ion and Plasma Physics

Prof. Friedrich Aumayr 2015-Dec-1

  • Effective of Dec 1st, 2015 Fritz Aumayr was appointed as a full professor of ion and plasma physics. He joined our institute in 1982. In addition to his highly successful research work Fritz Aumayr is since several years the head of research unit of the Austrian research program on nuclear fusion. To our students he is well known for his excellent introductory physics lectures.

Curriculum Vitae
Research Group of Fritz Aumayr

"Follow me around" video of the faculty of physics

The Catalytic Cycle 2015-Nov-2

  • In a short video the research activities of our faculty are introduced to a broader public.

"Follow me around video" (in German)

Blaise Pascal Medal

Prof. Nick Serpone awards the metal to Ulrike Diebold 2015-Oct-28

  • The European Academy of Sciences established the Blaise Pascal Medal in 2003 to recognize an outstanding and demonstrated personal contribution to science and technology and the promotion of excellence in research and education. Up to six medals may be awarded in any one year. This year Ulrike Diebold was honored with the Blaise Pascal Metal in Materials Science.

Platinum Catalysts: Better with Support

The Catalytic Cycle 2015-September-10

  • Researchers of the IAP surface physics group nicely show how a prototype catalytic reaction works. They have studied a supported catalyst, platinum on magnetite (Fe3O4), and demonstrate the important role of the oxide support. CO oxidation eats the oxygen from the magnetite support, and platinum helps to oxidize the support again. They could also investigate in detail what happens if hydrogen is oxidized with the help of the catalyst. These results were published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition and provide the groundwork for improving catalysts.

The paper
TU press release in English or German · APA release · "Die Presse" newspaper article

Hertha Firnberg Award for Margareta Wagner

Margareta Wagner 2015-June-30

  • Margareta Wagner of the Surface Physics Group received a Hertha Firnberg Award for her research programme “Organic Molecules on Transparent Conductive Oxides: Fundamental studies”. The Hertha Firnberg programme of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) aims at boosting the career of extremely well qualified female scientists.

START Prize awarded to Gareth Parkinson

Gareth Parkinson 2015-June-08

  • Gareth Parkinson of the surface Physics Group has received the START Prize, the highest Austrian award for outstanding young researchers. Congratulations! The prize money will enable him to pursue research on single-atom catalysis during the next six years. With now three START awardees and one Wittgenstein laureate, Gareth also makes our institute one of the most successful institutions in this respect!

TU press release (German)

No Molecular Rafts in Membranes of Living Cells

Eva Sevcsik in the Biophysics Lab 2015-April-21

  • Since almost two decades, it was widely believed that tiny structures made of lipid molecules and proteins wander within the membrane of a cell. These so-called molecular rafts would be important for cellular processes. Now a team of researchers around Eva Sevcsik and Gerhard Schütz of the IAP biophysics group could show that it's all different! The results have been published in Nature Communications.

Article in Nature Communications
TU press release in English and German
Media coverage: Austrian Press Agency (APA) · der Standard

Ulrike Diebold Elected to Membership in the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina


  • Founded in 1652, the Leopoldina is one of the oldest academies of science in the world. In the March 2015 elections the class of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Engineering elected 11 new members, one of them is Ulrike Diebold.

TU press release (German)

Superresolution Microscopy of Mitochondria

Gerhard Schütz at the Laser of the Superresolution Microscope 2014-December-22

  • Mitochondria are essential for our cells, they produce the energy carrier ATP. Unfortunately, mitochondria are too small for scrutiny by conventional light microscopy. Using superresolution microscopy techniques, the IAP biophysics group has determined where the relevant proteins are located in mitochondria, which provides important insights into how mitochondria work. These results are published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

Article in PNAS
TU press release (German)
Media coverage: APA · der Standard

Surface Structure of an Iron Oxide Unraveled

Magnetite crystal structure 2014-December-05

  • A team around Gareth Parkinson of the Surface Physics group has solved a long-standing mystery: No one could explain why the magnetite Fe3O4(001) surface behaves differently than all other oxides. It turned out that this surface has a very peculiar crystal structure, which requires a new way of thinking about oxide surfaces in general. The results have been published in the prestigious journal Science.

Article in Science
TU press release
Media coverage: ORF Science · Die Presse · der Standard · Salzburger Nachrichten

Two Awards for Ulrike Diebold

Eminent Visitor Award Scroll 2014-November-21

TU press release.

Nanoantennas from Femtosecond Laser Pulses

nano-antenna 2014-June-2

  • Wolfgang Husinsky and his co-workers have demonstrated for the first time that an array of nanoantennas (central nanotips inside sub-micrometer pits) on an aluminum surface, fabricated using a specific double-pulse femtosecond laser irradiation scheme, results in a 28-fold enhancement of the non-linear (three-photon) electron photoemission yield. The results are reported in the latest issue of Laser Physics Letters.

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

Austrian National Academy of Sciences Elects Ulrike Diebold as Full Member


  • The Austrian Academy of Sciences ÖAW has different levels of membership. Ulrike Diebold has been a 'corresponding member' since 2012, and was elected a 'full member' in April 2014.

List of all new ÖAW members.
der Standard

Stop! In the Name of Carbon

HCI-surface interaction 2014-April-18

  • A bullet fired through a block of wood will slow down. In a similar way, ions are decelerated when they pass through a solid material: the thicker the material, the larger the energy loss will be. However, this picture breaks down in ultra-thin target materials, which only consist of a few layers of atoms. This was recently demonstrated by Fritz Aumayr and his group in collaboration with the Helmholtzzentrum Dresden-Rossendorf. The results are reported in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters

Link to original publication.
TU press release (in German), TU press release (in English), HZDR press release
APA article ORF.at Der Standard Silicon Saxony

A Two-dimensional Electron Gas

Stefan, Bernhard and Zhiming at Bessy


  • The SrTiO3(110) surface forms a reconstruction that consists of a monolayer TiO2, but in a special, rather unreactive - tetrahedrally coordinated - form. When oxygen vacancies are created in this layer, they move to the SrTiO3 interface, where the resulting excess electrons form a two-dimensional gas (2DEG). Zhiming Wang, Stefan Gerhold and Bernhard Stöger from the surface physics group have measured the electronic structure of this electron gas at the synchrotron Bessy in Berlin. (There they also took the happy photo at the right.) Different from other, known 2DEG's, this system shows a pronounced anisotropy that is depends on the doping level. The experimental results are complemented by theoretical calculations by Zhicheng Zhong and Karsten Held at the Institute of Solid State Physics, and Xianfeng Hao and Cesare Franchini, Computational Materials Physics, University of Vienna.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Link to original publication
TU press release APA article der standard die Presse

Portrait of Professor Gerhard Schütz

Gerhard Schütz 2014-Jan-31

Lise Meitner Lecture

Lise Meitner Lecture Flyer 2013-Nov-08

Vacancies Marching to the Top

STM image of oxygen on an anatase surface 2013-Sep-02

  • Anatase, a form of titanium dioxide (TiO2) is used in (photo)catalysis and many other applications. The interaction of oxygen molecules with this material is of central importance. How this happens on the atomic scale was investigated in experiments by Martin Setvin of the Surface Physics group and calculations by Annabella Selloni (Princeton University) and coworkers. It was found that O2 interacts with oxygen vacancies in the material, resulting in O2 (peroxo) molecules incorporated in the surface.
    These results were published in the prestigious journal Science.

Abstract with link to full text
TU press releasePrinceton press releaseyoutube video
Articles in the media: Article in Chemical & Engineering Newsder Standard (German)ORF (German)

Visit by Minister Töchterle

Group photo with Minister Töchterle 2013-Jul-04

  • The Surface Physics group was honored by a visit of the Austrian Federal Minister for Science and Research, Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Töchterle. He visited the labs and discussed ongoing and planned research with group members.

TU press release

Wittgenstein Prize for Ulrike Diebold

Press Conference with Minister Töchterle 2013-Jun-17

  • Ulrike Diebold is awarded this year's Wittgenstein Prize, the highest science prize of Austria. The 1.5-million EUR prize is awarded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and sometimes referred to as “Austria's Nobel Prize”. The prize money will boost research in the IAP Surface Physics group.

Press releases: FWF englishgerman
Media coverage: ORFder Standarddie PresseKurierWiener Zeitung

The Dance of the Atoms

The Fe3O4 experts at the STM 2013-Jun-10

  • Metals such as gold or palladium are often used as catalysts to speed up certain chemical reactions. When the atoms ball together, most of them do not get into contact with the surrounding gas any more and the catalytic effect diminishes drastically. The mechanism of clustering is not well understood, however. In an article published in the prestigious journal Nature Materials, Gareth Parkinson and co-workers report on a detailed study of this issue; they have followed the fate of each surface atom and analyze how they are affected by different gas atmospheres. They find carbon monoxide to bind strongly to palladium atoms, helping them to move across the surface.

The article in Nature Materials (subscription required)
TU press release englishgermanyoutube video
Media coverage: ORFChemie.de

Ulrike Diebold receives Adamson Award from the American Chemical Society

Adamson Medal


  • Ulrike Diebold was awarded the 2013 Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (ACS) for “significantly advancing the fundamental understanding of the surface chemistry of metal oxides, in particular TiO2, through excellent research, writing, and lecturing.” She received the award during the 245th National ACS Meeting in New Orleans, USA, April 7-11, 2013. At the meeting, a five-session symposium was held in her honor, with contributions from more than 40 scientists from the US, Europe, and Asia.

Adamson Award · TU press release (in German)

Fritz Aumayr appointed as new director of the Austrian nuclear fusion research program

Fritz Aumayr 2013-Jan-16

Stijn Mertens joins the Surface Physics Group

Stijn 2012-November-01

  • We extend a warm welcome to Dr. Stijn Mertens, who joins us from the KU Leuven. He will spearhead our new efforts in electrochemical STM.

This week's cover story in the PROFIL magazine

PROFIL 08.10.2012 2012-Oct-08

  • Research activities of the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of IAP in the field of nuclear fusion are prominently mentioned in this week's cover story of the Austrian weekly magazine PROFIL. Read the full story (in German).

Nanostructuring surfaces with highly charged ions

HCI-surface interaction 2012-Sep-18

EFDA News: Picture of the week (September 2012)

EFDA Picture of the week 2012-Sep-04

  • IAP graduate student Katharina Dobes (AG-Aumayr) and her QCM experiment are featured as “Picture of the Week” on the Top Page of the EFDA website. Read the full story on "The Physicist and the Pea"

Zbynek Novotny attends Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates


  • From 1 to 6 July 2012, more than 25 Nobel Laureates and more than 580 young researchers from all over the world met at Lindau, Germany, to exchange ideas, discuss projects and build international networks. IAP graduate student Zbynek Novotny was selected to attend this meeting, which was dedicated to physics.

Click here for more information about the Lindau meetings

Ulrike Diebold elected to the Austrian Academy of Sciences


  • The Austrian Academey of Sciences elected Ulrike Diebold as a 'corresponding member' in the class of natural sciences,exact sciences, and medicine.

Press release of the ÖAW
Press release of the TU Wien

Single Gold Atoms

STM image of gold on magnetite

  • In the latest issue of Physical Review Letters [Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 216103 (2012)], Zbyněk Novotný and colleagues describe the discovery of highly stable single gold atoms on a magnetite (Fe3O4) surface. This observation is expected to facilitate catalysis research: On the other substrates studied so far, gold atoms don't stay alone but easily form large clusters, which are considered less active catalysts than single atoms.

Press release of the TU Wien
APS Physics article
Chemical&Engineering News article
Articles in the media: ORF Science, Wiener Zeitung, der Standard, Deutschlandradio, phys.org, nanowerk, …

ERC Advanced Grant for Ulrike Diebold

ERC logo

  • Ulrike Diebold has received a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant for her project OxideSurfaces, which will be funded with up to 2.5M Euro, and will run over 5 years. The project focuses on metal oxides. These materials have an extremely wide range of physical and chemical properties, and are used in catalysis, solar cells, batteries, gas sensors, and many other technical areas. Research topics are the interaction between bulk and surface defects, complex oxides, and she will also aim at scanning probe microscopy of oxides with atomic resolution in an aqueous solution.

Press release of the TU Wien
Newspaper article in "Der Standard"
Newspaper article in "Die Presse"
Further online article

Ulrike Diebold Divisional Associate Editor of PRL

Ulrike Diebold. Photo (C): Matthias Heisler, WIT Projekt TU Wien 2012-Jan-13

  • Ulrike Diebold received an invitation to join the editorial board of Physical Review Letters (PRL). She will act as an associate editor for the Material Physics Division from 2012 - 2014. PRL reports on the 'hottest and newest' in all of physics, from high-energy to solid state to astrophysics. It is the most highly-respected journal in physics, and serving on its board is a true honor.

New Doctoral College'SolidFun'


  • The Austrian Fund for (FWF) has approved a new doctoral program 'Building Solids for Function' 'SolidFun'. The program will be providing students with the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research. Groups from chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering departments at the TU are participating. The Surface Physics Group at IAP, headed by Ulrike Diebold, will also be part of this new doctoral program. The application process will start this Spring.

Post-Prof. Peter Varga

Post-Professor Peter Varga 2011-Sep-30

Ulrike on stage at the opera

Ulrike Diebold giving a plenary talk at the ECOSS-28 in Wrocław 2011-Sep-01

  • In an unusual location, the Opera House of Wrocław, Poland, Professor Ulrike Diebold gave a plenary talk at Europe's largest conference on surface science, ECOSS-28. The topic of Ulrike's talk was the Surface Science of Metal Oxides; she discussed recent progress, challenges, and opportunities in this area. The ECOSS-28 conference was attended by more than 650 participants, including IAP members Michael Schmid, Zbyněk Novotný, Philipp Scheiber, Gareth Parkinson, Peter Jacobson, and Sameena Shah Zaman, who also gave presentations on their recent research.

Newly appointed professor of biophysics

Professor Gerhard J. Schütz 2011-Jul-01

  • Professor Gerhard J. Schütz, formerly at the University of Linz, has been appointed professor of biophysics. He will establish a biophysics group at our institute. Due to technical and space limitations, for the time being, his labs will be in the building of the chemistry department.

New research program on oxides

Research topics in the SFB 2011-Mar-15

  • Today is the official start of the Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) “Functional Oxide Surfaces and Interfaces”. Results of this four-million-Euro research program are expected to have an impact on applications in catalysis, gas sensing, fuel cells and microelectronics. The SFB unites researchers from the TU Wien and the Universities of Vienna, Innsbruck and Siegen (Germany). Three of the ten project leaders in the SFB are members of our institute! Ulrike Diebold will work on pervoskites, Josef Redinger leads the theory part and Michael Schmid will study ultrathin zirconia films. See the TU Wien press release (in German) and the abstract of the SFB for more details.

Archive of Previous IAP News (2006-2010)

news/index.txt · Last modified: 2017-05-22 09:50 by Friedrich Aumayr