Special Talk, Stuttgart

9217 1489570562

Micro, Nano, and Molecular Systems

  • Date: Mar 20, 2017
  • Time: 14:00 - 15:00
  • Speaker: Prof. Peer Fischer, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Stuttgart
  • Location: MPI IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3
  • Room: Werner-Köster-Hörsaal 2R 4
  • Host: Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems


Inspired by Richard Feynman’s famous lecture “There’s plenty of room at the bottom”, researchers are striving to build synthetic motors, machines, and robots ‘bottom up’ from the nanoscale. However, despite progress in crafting static structures of increasing complexity, truly functional dynamic machines are still in their infancy. This is in contrast to any living organism, where molecular nanomachines are ubiquitous and where they collectively drive macroscopic organisms.

Building and powering artificial structures that operate at the nanoscale could mimic these systems and would enable entirely new applications, but is very challenging, as it is generally not possible to translate actuation mechanisms and design-concepts from the macro- to the nanoscale. At this scale different physical phenomena are important and there are no ready-made motors and no off-the-shelf parts. In this talk I will present our progress in addressing these challenges. I will describe a new fabrication method we developed that allows us to grow very large numbers of unique “nanobots”. The nanorobots can be controlled in fluids and are able to penetrate complex biological tissue. They form a platform technology for directed transport. Actuation mechanisms will be discussed, including the use of light to drive molecularly-engineered photoactive soft microswimmers and ultrasound for bubble-driven microdevices. The talk will then switch from actuated to “active” materials. These are essential for truly autonomous systems, as active, non-equilibrium building blocks hold the key to understanding how, for instance, a microswimmer is able to incorporate perception, action, and learning with chemistry in the absence of a neuronal system. I will discuss our ongoing experimental research to realize very dense and large numbers of swarms containing millions of ‘chemical bots’ and how they give rise to collective phenomena. Finally, I will present an invention that shows how we can use ultrasound for actuation and the large scale parallel 3D assembly.

Short Bio:

Peer Fischer is a Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Stuttgart. He received a BSc (honours) in physics from Imperial College London and in 1999 a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Cambridge. He then moved to Cornell University with a DAAD-NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship. In 2004 he was awarded a Rowland Junior Fellowship from Harvard University, where he directed an independent research lab for five years. In 2009 he won an Attract Award which brought him to the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg. He declined faculty offers from the US and instead moved his labs to the newly founded Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, where he since heads the MPG research group “Micro Nano and Molecular Systems”. He was awarded an ERC Grant (2012), and in 2016 he won a World Technology Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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