Our research goal is to transfer external stimuli into functionality on the molecular level. We focus on controlling intermolecular interactions in host-guest systems such as Metal-Organic Frameworks and at hybrid interfaces by light. Combining multiscale simulations with experimental methods - in particular time-resolved vibrational spectroscopy and scanning probe techniques - we investigate dynamic phenomena ranging from directed molecular motion to electron transfer processes and self-assembly mechanisms in well-defined molecular environments. Using this approach we study in particular the dynamics of photo-responsive molecular units with an emphasis on molecular machines. By correlating the dynamic phenomena on the molecular level with the resulting functionality of the molecular systems (e.g. photo-catalysis or selective drug release), we aim to derive new concepts for the development of smart stimuli-responsive nanomaterials.

Recent Research Highlights 


Quantitative assessment of intermolecular interactions by atomic force microscopy imaging using copper oxide tips

H. Mönig, S. Amirjalayer, A. Timmer, Z. Hu, L. Liu, O. Díaz Arado, M. Cnudde, C. A. Strassert, W. Ji, M. Rohlfing, H. FuchsNature Nanotechnology Advance Online Publication, DOI: 10.1038/s41565-018-0104-4.

Photoinduced Pedalo-Type Motion in an Azodicarboxamide-Based Molecular Switch

S. Amirjalayer*, A. Martinez-Cuezva, J. Berna, S. Woutersen*, W. J. Buma*,  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2018, 57, 1792. (*corresponding author)


Ballbot-type motion of N-heterocyclic carbenes on gold surfaces

G. Wang, A. Rühling, S. Amirjalayer, M. Knor, J. B. Ernst, H.-J Gao, H.-Y. Gao, C. Richter, N. L. Doltsinis, F. Glorius, H. Fuchs, Nature Chemistry, 2017, 9, 152.

Surface polarity and self-structured nanogrooves collaborative oriented molecular packing for high crystallinity towards efficient charge transport

D. Ji*, X. Xu*, L. Jiang*, S. Amirjalayer*, L. Jiang, Y. Zhen, Y. Zou, Y. Yao, H. Dong, J. Yu, H. Fuchs, W. Hu, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2017, 139, 2734. (*co-first author)


Direct observation of a dark state in the photocycle of a light-driven molecular motor

S. Amirjalayer*, A. Cnossen, W. R. Browne, B. L. Feringa, W. J. Buma, S. Woutersen, J. Phys. Chem. A 2016, 120, 8606. (*corresponding author)

Influence of Pore Dimension on the Host–Guest Interaction in Metal–Organic Frameworks

S. Amirjalayer*, R. Schmid, J. Phys. Chem. C 2016, 120, 27319. (*corresponding author)

An iron-iron hydrogenase mimic with appended electron reservoir for efficient proton reduction in aqueous media

R. Becker, S. Amirjalayer, P. Li, S. Woutersen, J. N.H. Reek, Science Advances 2016, 2, e1501014. 


Fast photodynamics of azobenzene probed by scanning excited-state potential energy surfaces using slow spectroscopy

E. M.M. Tan, S. Amirjalayer, S. Smolarek, A. Vdovin, F. Zerbetto, W. J. Buma, Nature Commun. 2015 , 6:5860.