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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


April 2021

Mette H. Rasmussen’s talk about the surface chemistry of snake slithering at the ACS Spring Meeting 2021 has been highlighted by the organizers. Mette's talk has led to articles in several news outlets, including: 

April 2021

Adam Chatterley joins our group – welcome Adam!

March 2021

A short book about optics and lasers has been published through IOP ebooks by postdoc James Pickering.

Title: Ultrafast Lasers and Optics for Experimentalists

Working with ultrashort femtosecond laser pulses requires some special care when compared to other laser systems, and the book provides an ideal starting point for the non-specialist to gain the necessary knowledge to start effectively working with ultrafast lasers and optics.

March 2021 

Surflab researchers, together with an international team of collaborators, have published a paper in Nature Communications entitled "Ice Nucleating Proteins Are Activated by Low Temperatures to Control the Structure of Interfacial Water".    

February 2021 

Jan Thøgersen publishes an article entitled "The primary photo-dynamics of lactate in aqueous solution: decarboxylation prevents dehydroxylation" in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

The work has been a collaboration with Frank Jensen and Veronica Vaida.    

Article in PCCP

January 2021
A new article on dysferlin has been published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B by SurfLab researchers in collaboration with researchers from the Oregon State University: 

Direct Evidence That Mutations within Dysferlin’s C2A Domain Inhibit Lipid Clustering

January 2021
Lars Schmüser, Thaddeus Golbek and Tobias Weidner have published an article about spectroscopy of particles surfaces in Biointerphases:   

Windowless detection geometry for sum frequency scattering spectroscopy in the C– D and amide I regions

January 2021 
Seema Kumari is joining our group as a Research Assistant. Welcome, Seema!

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