Clusters of Excellence within the Department of Chemistry
One focus of the Department of Chemistry is the synthesis, analysis, and application of nanomaterials. Nanoscience essentially involves investigating the physical or chemical properties that occur on the nanometer scale based solely on the material size and shape. Researchers use electron and light microscopy to determine the atomic arrangement and shape of nanostructures, for example, or develop methods to ascertain and create computer models of the electronic structure of nanomaterials. Among others, the nanoscientists contribute their expertise to the Cluster of Excellence Advanced Imaging of Matter (AIM). The cluster focuses on questions such as “What makes atoms move the way they do, leading them to create new structures with specific functions?” Examples here include superconductors in certain crystals or the movements of molecule groups in proteins that lead to molecular recognition in biological processes. The researchers now wish to explore the principles behind the evolution of specific characteristics and how to control these. This would in turn enable the development of new medicines, computers with enormous performance potential, or materials for the loss-free transmission of electricity, for instance. Scientific teams from the fields of physics, chemistry, and structural biology work together closely within the cluster.
Understanding Written Artefacts
Scientists for the Cluster of Excellence Understanding Written Artefacts research the development and function of written artefacts in manuscript cultures around the world, from their beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia to the digital era. The goal is to record and examine the cultural diversity of artefacts on the basis of their materiality. This is because manuscripts tell us far more than they reveal at first glance. The materials used provide insights into the production, use, storage, and decomposition of the precious documents, for example. The scientists from the Department of Chemistry conduct research that focuses on “artefact profiling,” whereby they work closely with manuscript researchers to answer questions about the provenance, aging, and deterioration of artefacts with the help of chemical profiles. The team performs DNA analyses to decipher which species of palm a document is made from, for instance, and—at the same time—tests noninvasive examination methods that will not destroy the valuable artefacts. With their research within the cluster of excellence, the chemists also contribute important expertise to the preservation and safeguarding of objects.