Nanoparticles for Functional Nanocomposites

With the advent of nanotechnology, the unique properties of nanoparticles, essentially owing to their huge surface to volume ratio, attract great attention and inspired researchers to uncover applications in fields like (photo-) catalysis, optics, memristive switching and sensors.

The subgroup Nanoparticles for Functional Nanocomposites around Alexander Vahl was established in October 2021. With its research focus on nanocomposites with applications in plasmonics, sensors, memristive switching & neuromorphic engineering, there is a strong experimental background in the preparation of nanocomposite (thin film) devices and the characterization of their functional properties.


Preparation of Functional Nanocomposites:

For the fabrication of nanocomposites, the subgroup relies on a combination of physical vapor deposition methods such as magnetron sputtering (DC, RF or reactive DC), which enables a broad material selection. One particularly interesting approach to fabricate metal, metal alloy and metal oxide nanoparticles is the application of nanoparticle beam deposition from gas phase synthesis. Here, a magnetron sputtering based gas aggregation source is used to generate a beam of nanoparticles from a supersaturated metal vapor, which results in a high-purity, surfactant-free deposition that is compatible with a wider range of substrates. To gain a deeper understanding of the processes involved in nanoparticle formation within the gas aggregation source, we have introduced a variety of in-situ diagnostic techniques that allow for enhanced monitoring and control of the deposition process.

Research Highlights:

Research Methods:

  •  Nanoparticle Beam Deposition via Gas Aggregation Source (e.g. Ag, Cu, AgAu, CuNi, CuIn, AgPt)
  •  DC Magnetron Sputter Deposition (e.g. Cr/W/Pt/Cu/Ag)
  •  Reactive Magnetron Sputter Deposition (e.g. TiO2, CuO, NiO, SiO2, SiOxNy, Al2O3)
  •  RF Magnetron Sputter Deposition (e.g. Al2O3)
  •  In-situ UV-vis Spectroscopy
  •  In-situ Raleigh Scattering


Functional Properties and Applications: The research focus of the subgroup lies on the characterization of the functional properties of nanocomposite devices, for example, in the field of memristive switching, UV- and gas sensors and plasmonic nanostructures. Besides structural, morphological and chemical characterization of thin films and nanoparticles via scanning electron microscopy or x-ray photoemission spectroscopy, the electrical and optical properties are of particular interest. 

Research Highlights: 

Research Methods:

  •  Spectroscopic Ellipsometry
  •  UV-vis Spectroscopy
  •  4-point Probe Station for Electrical Contacting (Everbeing BD-6)
  •  4-point Probe Station for Electrical Contacting and Optical Illumination (Signatone H-150)
  •  Electrical Characterization (I vs V, I vs t)
  •  X-ray photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS)
  •  Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
  •  Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX)


Collaborations and Network: With its application-oriented approach, the subgroup is strongly involved in collaborative research initiatives, such as the Collaborative Research Center 1461. The research on Nanoparticles for functional nanocomposites is supported by strong cooperation with national and international partners and is embedded into the university’s priority research area “Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science (KiNSIS)”.

For further details on the research activities please follow the links: