Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Open SurfLab projects

Surface Coating

Surfaces exposed to the environment (e.g. the ocean) typically undergo biofouling and corrosion over time. Silicon nanofilaments have the potential to overcome these issues as well as potentially reduce friction of moving boats.

  • Can we coat a model boat to demonstrate the use of nanofilaments?
  • What is the best functionalization for a nonfouling surface?

Natural Glues

Animals like spiders and frogs can capture their prey using powerful natural glues. These glues are able to stick to both polar and non-polar surfaces, and they can be mechanically activated and deactivated (i.e. they adhere only under force).

  • What do natural glues consist of and what are their properties?
  • Studying natural glues is key to mimicking and improving of glues.

The Origin of Life

Amino acids are chiral molecules and come in both left-handed and right-handed forms. Nevertheless, virtually all living organisms on Earth are exclusively made of left-handed amino acids and nobody knows why.

  • Is asymmetric photolysis of amino acids in the pre-biotic oceans the reason for the homochirality of living organisms?
  • Does the chirality of amino acids change upon photolysis?

Bio-Mineralizing Proteins

Diatom cell walls are constructed by a unique protein (Silaffin) whereby the protein organizes minerals into unique structures.  By using derivatives of the Silaffin protein, we can create unique bio-mineral surfaces

  • What role do charged amino acids play (lysine, histidine, and arginine) in the helical structure?
  • What other metal oxides can we use to create these unique bio-mineral surfaces?

SFG Scattering

Sum frequency generation scattering spectroscopy can provide information about the surface physics of particles. What is the surface structure of nanoparticles, water droplets and aerosols? You may be the first to know.

  • Construct a SFG scattering setup using a brand new high power femtosecond laser system.

SFG 2D Setup

Sum frequency generation spectroscopy can probe molecules at interfaces using femtosecond laser pulses. We are now building a two dimensional SFG experiment which can probe energy transfer and coupling between molecular groups at interfaces.

  • Build a 2D SFG setup using brand-new, cutting-edge laser systems and optics.

Ice Nucleating Proteins

Bacteria can stimulate the growth of ice and snow using ice nucleating proteins (INPs). They use them to attack plants with frost damage and, when air-borne, they drive cloud seeding and snow precipitation. 

  • What is the structural basis for ice nucleation by proteins?
  • How do INPs order themselves and H2O molecules to form ice?
  • Can we use INPs to make artificial snow?


Femtosecond laser pulses are altered by all optical components on its path. We need to know the chirp and pulse duration of the mid IR laser pulses. One technique to characterize these is Cross Correlation Frequency-Resolved Optical Gating (X-FROG).

  • What are the properties of the IR laser pulses when they hit the sample?