Unlike the simple picture many people have in their minds, the way atoms and molecules are organized on solid surfaces is complex and in many cases far from being well understood. Furthermore, even at extremely cold surfaces the atoms and molecules are continuously vibrating and moving from one position to another. The arrangement of the atoms and the way they move is fascinating and also fundamentally important to many processes and research fields.

Examples include layer by layer fabrication of micro-electronic devices, industrial heterogeneous catalysis, atmospheric chemistry and astro-chemistry, nano scale friction and many others. To study these questions experimentally one has to “observe” the atoms with a sub-nano-meter resolution and over fast time scales (down to pico-seconds).

In our group we develop and use new unconventional techniques based on atomic and molecular beams, experiments which aim to advance our understanding of the structure and the dynamics of solid surfaces.