Water at Interfaces

Water has a very simple chemical structure consisting of one oxygen connected to two hydrogen atoms. However, when several water molecules come together their properties are difficult to predict only based on the structure of a single molecule.

At our institute, we study water on various length scales: At the molecular level, we are particularly interested in answering questions such as: 

  • How do water molecules interact and react with solid surfaces?
  • How do they evaporate?
  • How does ice melt?". 
  • How is the conformation of a protein or a polymer affected by the surrounding water?
  • Are the properties of water in a confined volume different from those in bulk?
  • How can some materials induce faster water freezing? 

On the macroscopic length scale, we study the wetting properties of water and other liquids on surfaces. While the wetting of pure, simple liquids on ideal surfaces is well understood, the wetting of liquid solutions, mixtures, dispersions, emulsions, on structured, heterogeneous, soft or reactive surfaces is not.  

In a more application-oriented context, we are interested in understanding from a microscopic point of view how to improve the performance of organic semiconducting devices which often are affected by the presence of water.  

In order to answer these questions, we develop and apply new experimental and theoretical techniques.  Solving these puzzles has far reaching implications spanning from biology to electronics, from agriculture to biomedical applications as well as from batteries to atmospheric science.

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