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Steffen Onclin (promotion date: 8 October 2004)

A molecular printboard on glass

Promotion Date: 08 October 2004

Steffen Onclin

I deposited a monolayer of organic host molecules on a glass substrate, which we call a molecular printboard. On this printboard guest molecules were positioned by stamping or by writing with an AFM tip. Since the guest molecules bind through supramolecular interactions, it is possible to erase the formed patterns again. The patterns can be made visible by using fluorescent molecules.

Nanolithography is an existing technology. The new thing about this research is the use of a molecular printboard on glass.

What was your thesis about?

I deposited a monolayer of organic host molecules on a glass substrate, which we call a molecular printboard. On this printboard guest molecules were positioned by stamping or by writing with an AFM tip. Since the guest molecules bind through supramolecular interactions, it is possible to erase the formed patterns again. The patterns can be made visible by using fluorescent molecules.

Is this new?

Nanolithography is an existing technology. The new thing about this research is the use of a molecular printboard on glass. Using glass has the advantage that optical techniques like fluorescence can be used to make the patterns visible, something that is not possible on for example gold.

Is there a practical application?

It has been a fundamental study, but with many future practical applications. What we try to do is build nanosized devices on a surface by self-assembly of molecules. The ultimate application would be to build a molecular computer, but for that there is a long way to go. For other applications you could think of life sciences, analytical tools for biological screening for instance.

I take it that chemistry is your background?

Yes, I am a chemical engineer.

What did you like most about your research?

The work in the lab. I really enjoy working with my hands and doing experiments in the laboratory. I enjoyed the conferences, too. I have been to several: Washington DC in the US,

Naurod in Germany and Il Ciocco in Italy.

Was there a moment of despair?

The first 1,5 year was a bit of groping around, trying to find my way and did not get any specific results. Then, at the end of my second year things started to pick up. By working together with many people, both from my own group and from other groups (especially the Optical Techniques and BIOS groups), the results came fast. That’s the advantage of working in Mesa+, the possibility of working together with researcher outside your own field.

What are you going to do next?

I would like to do research work in industry and have already sent some applications. I understand it is not going to be easy, there are not many jobs at the moment, contrary to the situation when I started my studies. I do not want to go abroad, because my girl friend is doing a promotion here and has two more years to go. Another option is a postdoc, but I would prefer anything more permanent. I have been at the university for ten years now and, although I have greatly enjoyed it, it has been enough.

For the summary of the thesis, click here.

Voor de samenvatting van het proefschrift, click hier.