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Smaller Is Hardly Possible

Nanoscale Focus Area of Freie Universität to Present Series of Lectures on Molecular Processes at the Nanometer Scale, May 2 to 6

№ 108/2011 from Apr 20, 2011

During a lecture week from May 2 to 6, scientists from the Nanoscale Focus Area at Freie Universität will be providing insight into molecular processes at the nanometer scale. The first of the four evenings will be devoted to hybrid systems, biological membranes, supramolcular interactions, and nanomedicine in physics, chemistry, and the life sciences. The hybrid systems field of research, for example, has to do with their physical properties and possible applications. The properties of biomembranes and their importance for pharmacy and medicine will also be explained. The presentations are aimed at interested persons who are not themselves scientists. Except for the lecture in the Urania on May 6, there is no admission fee. The lectures on May 4 and May 5 will be held in English.

The role of nanomaterials in medicine is the focus of a lecture to be given in English on May 4. The guest speaker will be Prof. Dr. Donald Brooks from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He will report on nanosystems for medical applications that are developed on the basis of excellent biological compatibility for use in medicine. On May 5 there will be another lecture in English, “Self-assembly of DNA into nanoscale three-dimensional shapes.” It will be given by Prof. Dr. William Shih from the WYSS Institute at Harvard University. The lecture will deal with the planned production of three-dimensional nucleic acid structures. The final lecture of the series will be given on May 6 in the Urania. In an experimental lecture, Prof. Dr. Rainer Haag and Prof. Dr. Christoph Schalley from Freie Universität will demonstrate the “chemistry of weak interactions” that can be used to explain such diverse things as giant soap bubbles or how nanocarriers can be created and targeted for pharmaceutical use.

Nanostructures are molecules with sizes of one to 100 nanometers, or about twenty-thousandths of the diameter of a pinhead. In the world of molecules, these structures are, however, the giants among the substances. Their properties in the nanometer scale determine the properties of the materials that are constructed from them. Scientists from Freie Universität's Nanoscale Focus Area deal with these properties – what they are, how they emerge from the molecular composition, and how they can be used. Chemists produce nanomaterials according to the wishes and requirements from other disciplines. Physicists then investigate their properties experimentally and describe them theoretically. Physicians rely on such materials, in order to create implants, to obtain X-ray or magnetic resonance images of the highest quality, and to ensure the targeted delivery of drugs to their sites of action. Materials scientists take the results and create materials and surfaces with defined properties. This has led, for example, to the production of water-repellent surface coatings of nanoparticles. In the biological sciences there is a whole universe of nanomachines that cells use to control their expressions of life. A better understanding of these processes provides approaches for the development of new nanostructures. Through the interaction of the disciplines and on the basis of chemical research, various opportunities and possibilities are made apparent. New materials are developed in the material sciences. Physicians hope that new and better drugs, diagnostic tools, and new therapies will result from a deep and detailed understanding of nanometer-sized molecules and their interactions in physics, chemistry, and biology.

Dates and Locations:

Monday, May 2, 2011, 4:15 – 6:00 p.m.

Prof. Dr. Stephanie Reich will present the Nanoscale Focus Area and the hybrid systems field of research. (in German)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 4:15 – 6:00 p.m.

Prof. Dr. Volker Haucke and Prof. Dr. Joachim Heberle will be speaking about biomembranes. (in German)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 4:15 – 6:00 p.m.

Prof. Dr. Rainer Haag will briefly introduce the field of nanomedicine. Prof. Donald Brooks from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver will then speak about the development and use of biocompatible nanosystems for medical applications. His lecture will be held in English.

Thursday May 5, 2011, 4:15 – 6:00 p.m.

Prof. Dr. William Shih from the WYSS Institute at Harvard University in Boston will be speaking on “DNA origami” about the targeted production of nucleic acid structures and their applications. His lecture will be held in English.

Location of the lectures on Monday, May 2, through Thursday, May 5, 2011:

Freie Universität Berlin, Lecture Hall in the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Takustr. 6, 14195 Berlin

Friday, May 6, 2011, 7:30 p.m.: Experimental lecture

“From Giant Soap Bubbles to Nanocarriers: The chemistry of weak interactions” (to be held in German)

Prof. Dr. Rainer Haag and Prof. Dr. Christoph Schalley from the Institute of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Freie Universität Berlin, will demonstrate how weak interactions between molecules can achieve powerful effects. Soap bubbles, the epitome of fragility, will be enlarged to gigantic proportions, and nanoparticles will be loaded wtih cargo for targeted deliveries.

Location: Urania, An der Urania 17, 10787 Berlin

For further information, please contact:

Dr. Henning Otto, Nanoscale Focus Area, Department of Physics and Department of Biology, Chemistry, and Pharmacy, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-56930 or -56135