The “Soft Matter Physics” Group at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Potsdam
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The term “Soft Matter” stands for an exciting class of materials. The building blocks of Soft Matter are molecules with defined electronic properties, which assemble to macroscopic systems via weak interactions. Therefore, Soft Matter reacts to even weak forces, rendering it highly responsive and providing the basis for various applications.
Current research of the “Soft Matter Physics” group is concerned with physical processes in conjugated materials. These materials constitute a- fascinating class of semiconductors with widely tunable optical and electrical properties. Therefore, research activities in various groups around the world focus on the use of conjugated molecules and polymers for energy conversion, e.g. the conversion of light into electricity in solar cells or electrically-driven luminescence in light-emitting diodes. A particular challenge regarding the understanding and optimization of conjugated materials is their complex hierarchical structure. While the optical properties are largely defined by the electron orbitals of the individual molecules, it is the arrangement of the molecules on a larger scale that determines the motion of excitations and charges through the active material. The “Soft Matter Physics” group has therefore set up different steady-state and transient techniques to study processes on all relevant time and length scales. These methods include time resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, transient photocurrent measurement and charge extraction methods as well as high resolution microscopy techniques such as AFM, SNOM and SEM. The results of these measurements serve as input for extensive drift-diffusion simulations of the electrical and optoelectronic properties of these materials. The group has also established tight collaborations with chemists and physicists around the world, specialized on materials chemistry, advanced structural analysis or quantum chemical calculations of large conjugated systems.