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STN Programme
Head: Prof. Dr. Horst Hahn / Prof. Dr. Jan G. Korvink


KIT-Campus North
Building 440

H.-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
76344 Eggenstein-Leop.

phone: +49(721)608-25578
fax: +49(721)608-25579
e-mail: infoTkn2∂stn kit edu



The Helmholtz Research Programme STN (Science and Technology of Nanosystems) takes on the challenge of controlling and shaping materials from the atomic and molecular up to the macroscopic scale to explore their entire potential of novel functionalities.

STN is dedicated towards research and development of

Our activities span the entire range from fundamental science to high performance technologies and integrated systems. We closely cooperate with the Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility (KNMF) as a large-scale user facility for multimaterial nano and micro technologies.


Im Helmholtz-Programm STN (Science and Technology of Nanosystems) wird das Potential neuartiger Funktionalitäten von Materialien auf der atomaren und molekularen bis zur makroskopischen Ebene erschlossen.

STN betreibt Forschung und Entwicklung in den Themenfeldern

Unsere Arbeiten reichen von der Grundlagenforschung bis zu Hochtechnologien und integrierten Systemen. Wir kooperieren eng mit der Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility (KNMF) als Großgerät für Nutzer von Nano- und Mikrotechnologien und mit einer großen Vielfalt prozessierbarer Materialien.

Highlights and news archive


Team 2017 (Picture: KIT)



Award for quicker data transmission: Christian Koos, Manfred Kohl, and Sascha Mühlbrandt of KIT. (Photo: Gips-Schüle Foundation, Thomas Niedermüller)
Gips-Schüle Research Award for Ultracompact Photodetector

November 29, 2017

Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) demonstrated a novel plasmonic photodetector that is a hundred times smaller and much quicker than conventional detectors. For this, scientists Sascha Mühlbrandt, Christian Koos, and Manfred Kohl of KIT were granted this year’s Gips-Schüle Research Award in the amount of EUR 50,000 by the Gips-Schüle Foundation. Large numbers of these small components can be integrated on large-area silicon wafers, together with other optical and electronic components. In this way, capacity of future communication systems can be increased considerably.

Press Release 172/2017
Christian Koos (left) and Christian Greiner (right) are awarded ERC Consolidator Grants. (Photos: Laila Tkotz/KIT)
Research into Terahertz Signals and Friction-optimized Metals

November 28, 2017

At Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Professor Christian Koos combines photonic and electronic methods to generate terahertz signals and to make them usable for data transmission and measurements. Dr. Christian Greiner studies the behavior of metals in friction contacts in order to reduce friction and wear and, thus, decrease the consumption of energy and raw materials. The European Research Council (ERC) has now decided to award Consolidator Grants to both scientists. In the next five years, their projects will be funded with about EUR 2 million each.

Press Release 171/2017
Forces from above are transmitted to the vertical ring structures via bars. The rotation of the rings exerts forces onto the corners of the horizontal planes of the cube. (T. Frenzel/KIT)
Science: Metamaterial with a Twist

November 24, 2017

Using 3D printers for the microrange, researchers of KIT have succeeded in creating a metamaterial from cubic building blocks that responds to compression forces by a rotation. Usually, this can only be achieved by transmission using a crankshaft, for instance. The sophisticated design of bars and ring structures and the underlying mathematics are now presented in the latest issue of Science.

Press Release 169/2017
Upon execution of Grover’s quantum algorithm, the terbium single-molecule transistor reads out unsorted databases. (Graphics: KIT/Institut Néel)
Quantum Computing with Molecules for a Quicker Search of Unsorted Databases

November 13, 2017

Scrapbooks or social networks are collections of mostly unsorted data. The search for single elements in very large data volumes, i.e. for the needle in the data haystack, is extremely complex for classical computers. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now quantum mechanically implemented and successfully executed Glover’s algorithm, a process for the quick finding of a search element in unsorted databases. Their results are reported in the Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.187702

Press Release 162/2017
The surface of bar-shaped ceria nanoparticles is comparable with the rock formations of Monument Valley – it has a number of edges, corners, and facets. (Photo: Alessandro Trovarelli/University of Udine)
Ceria Nanoparticles: It Is the Surface that Matters

October 30, 2017

Exhaust gas cleaning of passenger cars, power generation from sunlight, or water splitting: In the future, these and other applications may profit from new findings relating to ceria. At Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), scientists have studied ceria nanoparticles with the help of probe molecules and a complex ultrahigh vacuum-infrared measurement system and obtained partly surprising new insights into their surface structure and chemical activity. Work is reported in three articles published in the journal Angewandte Chemie (applied chemistry).

Press Release 158/2017
Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3D microstructures, on products or packagings. (Photo: Frederik Mayer/KIT)
3D Microprinting: Security for Products, Passports, and Money

October 25, 2017

Security features are to protect bank notes, documents, and branded products against counterfeiting. Losses caused by product forgery and counterfeiting may be enormous. According to the German Engineering Association, the damage caused in 2016 in its branch alone amounted to EUR 7.3 billion. In the Advanced Materials Technologies journal, researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the ZEISS company now propose to use printed 3D microstructures instead of 2D structures, such as holograms, to improve counterfeit protection.

Press Release 156/2017
Nanostructures of the wing of Pachliopta aristolochiae can be transferred to solar cells and enhance their absorption rates by up to 200 percent. (Graphics: Radwanul H. Siddique, KIT/Caltech)
Butterfly Wing Inspires Photovoltaics: Light Absorption Can Be Enhanced by Up to 200 Percent

October 19, 2017

Sunlight reflected by solar cells is lost as unused energy. The wings of the butterfly Pachliopta aristolochiae are drilled by nanostructures (nanoholes) that help absorbing light over a wide spectrum far better than smooth surfaces. Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now succeeded in transferring these nanostructures to solar cells and, thus, enhancing their light absorption rate by up to 200 percent. The scientists report their results in the journal Science Advances. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700232.

Press Release 153/2017
Contrary to classical bits, quantum bits can assume two states at the same time: Right and left, yellow and blue, zero and one. (Photo: KIT)
Quantum Simulator: First Functioning Component

October 4, 2017

Hurricanes, traffic jams, demographic development – to predict the effect of such events, computer simulations are required. Many processes in nature, however, are so complicated that conventional computers fail. Quantum simulators may solve this problem. One of the basic phenomena in nature is the interaction between light and matter in photosynthesis. Physicists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now made a big step towards quantum mechanics understanding of plant metabolism. This is reported in the Nature Communications journal.

Press Release 143/2017
Australian Laureate Fellow 2017: Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik (Photo: Irina Westermann)
Light-Driven Customization of High-Tech Materials

June 7, 2017

Touching up scratches in car paint with laser technology, using light to make sensitive electronic parts more flexible or harder: These are the solutions Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik is working on at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia. His research on novel ways to precisely adapt coatings and materials for different applications using spectrally pure light from lasers, is now also the focus of a project funded by the Australian Research Council with more than AUD three million (more than EUR two million).

Press Release 073/2017
3-dimensional microstructures can be written using a laser, erased, and rewritten. (Photo: KIT)
Erasable Ink for 3D Printing

April 24, 2017

3D printing by direct laser writing produces micrometer-sized structures with precisely defined properties. Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now developed a method to erase the ink used for 3D printing. In this way, the small structures of up to 100 nm in size can be erased and rewritten repeatedly. One nanometer corresponds to one millionth of a millimeter. This development opens up many new applications of 3D fabrication in biology or materials sciences, for instance.

Press Release 050/2017
Stripes of nanostructures in perovskite solar cells can be detected by means of a type of scanning force microscopy (shown schematically). (Figure: Holger Röhm, Tobias Leonhard/KIT)
Solar Cells with Nanostripes

April 12, 2017

Solar cells based on perovskites reach high efficiencies: They convert more than 20 percent of the incident light directly into usable power. On their search for underlying physical mechanisms, researchers of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now detected strips of nanostructures with alternating directions of polarization in the perovskite layers. These structures might serve as transport paths for charge carriers. This is reported in the Energy & Environmental Science Journal. (DOI: 10.1039/c7ee00420f)

Press Release 048/2017
Wolfgang Wernsdorfer is Humboldt Professor at KIT. (Photo: Sandra Göttisheim, KIT)
Optics Advance Quantum Information Processing

April 7, 2017

Experimental physicist Professor Wolfgang Wernsdorfer of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) was selected by the European Research Council for funding with an ERC Advanced Grant for his project “Molecular Quantum Opto-Spintronics” (MoQuOS). MoQuOS covers optical manipulation and characterization of molecular quantum bits. Within the framework of MoQuOS, Wernsdorfer, who has been holding an Alexander von Humboldt professorship since 2016, plans to develop together with his team rapid and reliable methods to read out spin states of individual magnetic molecules for quantum information processing.

Press Release 047/2017
The molecular contact can be switched on and off mechanically and electrostatically. (Photo: KIT)
Reliable Molecular Toggle Switch Developed

March 9, 2017

Nanotechnology constantly allows for new records in miniaturization. Reduction of the dimension of electronic components, however, has physical limits that will be reached soon. Novel materials and components are required. This is where molecular electronics comes in. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now succeeded in developing a molecular toggle switch that does not only remain in the position selected, but can also be flipped as often as desired. This is reported in Nature Communications. 

Press Release 031/2017
The metal-organic framework is set up like a sandwich (a). The molecular textile layer is woven in an active layer that is embedded between so-called sacrificial layers (b). (Image: KIT)
Metal-organic Frameworks Used as Looms

February 15, 2017

Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have made major progress in the production of two-dimensional polymer-based materials. To produce cloths from monomolecular threads, the scientists used SURMOFs, i.e. surface-mounted metal-organic frameworks, developed by KIT. They inserted four-armed monomers, i.e. smaller molecular building blocks, into some SURMOF layers. Cross-linking of the monomers then resulted in textiles consisting of interwoven polymer threads. This work is now presented in Nature Communications. (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14442)

Press Release 020/2017
Microscopic components made of silicon (blue) and special polymers (green) convert electrical into optical signals and vice versa. (Graphics: KIT)
Turning Research into Innovations

February 1, 2017

The European Research Council (ERC) has decided to fund two innovative ideas of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). For their first steps from fundamental research to commerciali-zation, these projects are now granted about EUR 150,000 each. The so-called “Proof of Concept Grants” serve to further de-velop application-relevant research findings for the market. The KIT projects funded by the ERC cover the analysis of biological samples and data transmission by light.

Press Release 013/2017
A cancer cell under the microscope: The STED image (left) has a background of low resolution. In the STEDD image (right), background suppression results in much better visible structures. (Image: APH/KIT)
Background Suppression for Super-resolution Light Microscopy

January 31, 2017

Researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a new fluorescence microscopy method: STEDD (Stimulation Emission Double Depletion) nanoscopy produces images of highest resolution with suppressed background. The new method yields an enhanced image quality, which is advantageous when analyzing three-dimensional, densely arranged subcellular structures. STEDD, a further development of the STED method, is now presented in Nature Photonics. (DOI: 10.1038/NPHOTON.2016.279)

Press Release 012/2017
The ring structure of the metamaterial was inspired by mail armor of medieval knights. (Photo: KIT)
Metamaterial: Mail Armor Inspires Physicists

January 19, 2017

The Middle Ages certainly were far from being science-friendly: Whoever looked for new findings off the beaten track faced the threat of being burned at the stake. Hence, the contribution of this era to technical progress is deemed to be rather small. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), however, were inspired by medieval mail armor when producing a new metamaterial with novel properties. They succeeded in reversing the Hall coefficient of a material.

Press Release 006/2017