Aarhus University Seal


Surfaces - It's where the action is:



Interfaces play a deciding role in many aspects of modern chemistry and material science – catalysis, adhesion, sensing, nucleation are all processes driven by interfaces.

We use methods based on static and time-resolved sum frequency generation to probe the orientation, structure and dynamics of molecules at interfaces. Near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy and microscopy are used as complementary tools to probe binding chemistry, surface distribution and molecular structure.



An important part of our research are protein structures at interfaces. Specific proteins can act as Nature’s engineers of both hard and soft tissue. Proteins can ‘sculpture’ biogenic minerals and shape cell membranes. The control interfacial proteins exert over biological surfaces has relevance for disciplines as diverse as cell biology, bio-sensor research, biomimetics and material science. We ask how proteins fold and move at surfaces and how energy flows through protein interfaces.


For technical applications we use chemical modification of surfaces to prevent biofouling and scaling and to reduce friction. The approaches we use are inspired by our studies of the surface chemistry of animals. Can we fabricate self-cleaning surfaces like plants? Stick to walls like a spider? Glue like a frog tongue?

The goal of our research is to understand how molecules operate at surfaces and how we can control interfacial processes at the molecular level.


SurfLab News


July 2023

Asger Berg Thomassen has joined us as a PhD student. Welcome Asger!

June 2023

SurfLab Researchers in collaboration with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland have for the first time probed the structure of globular protein lysozyme binding to phospholipid-coated nanoemulsions in situ.  This article was published in Langmuir.

Title: “Lysozyme Interaction with Phospholipid Nanodroplets Probed by Sum Frequency Scattering Vibrational Spectroscopy

April 2023

Tobias Weidner has co-authored an article about bacterial dynamin-like proteins in Nature Communications.
The work, entitled “SynDLP is a dynamin-like protein of Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 with eukaryotic features” has been a collaboration with several research groups including the University of Mainz and the Forschungszentrum Jülich.

December 2022

Akriti Mishra joined our group as a postdoc. Welcome Akriti!

November 2022 - Article in Biointerphases

In collaboration with researchers at Oregon State University, SurfLab has published a paper using sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy to investigate shape-dependence of gold nanoparticles interacting with model cellular membranes.  This study highlights the importance of mechanistic evaluations of nanomaterial technology.

Shape-dependent gold nanoparticle interactions with a model cell membrane

November 2022 - Article in Journal of Physical Chemistry B

SurfLab researchers in collaboration with Frank Jensen (AU) and Yuki Nagata (MPI-P) publish a new theoretical framework for simulating sum frequency spectra in Journal of Physical Chemistry B. The framework allows simulation of protein SFG using velocity-velocity time correlation functions based directly on classical MD simulations.

Theoretical Sum Frequency Generation Spectra of Protein Amide with Surface-Specific Velocity–Velocity Correlation Functions

November 2022 - Article in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters

SurfLab researchers published a new technique for looking at proteins on the surface of emulsions using sum frequency generation vibrational spectroscopy in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. This technique allows us, for the first time, to determine the structure and orientation of proteins at emulsion and nanoparticle interfaces.

Peptide Orientation at Emulsion Nanointerfaces Dramatically Different from Flat Surfaces

SurfLab research is supported by:

  • The Carlsberg Foundation
  • Danish Hydrocarbon Research and Technology Centre (DHRTC)
  • The European Research Council (ERC)
  • The Independent Research Fund Denmark - Nature and Universe (FNU)
  • The Lundbeck Foundation
  • The Novo Nordisk Foundation
  • The Villum Foundation