My research interests are nanochemistry and supramolecular chemistry on surfaces. Self-assembly on surfaces is a central theme of my research, with a focus on the relation between structure and function. Recent research activities cover a broad range of topics such as two-dimensional crystal engineering (e.g. formation of nanoporous surfaces, chirality at interfaces), templating, dynamics and reactivity. These studies aim at bringing insight in the fundamental aspects of molecule-substrate interactions and molecular organisation on surfaces, as well as the formation and use of these nanostructured functional surfaces (e.g. 2D materials). The liquid-solid interface is a preferred environment to induce self-assembly. Also biomolecular systems (DNA, proteins, their complexes, etc.) are investigated, with a focus on those that are involved in disease related processes. Scanning probe microscopy and spectroscopy techniques are particularly useful to probe the structural, dynamic, and electronic properties of these surface-confined molecular systems.
My research focuses on fundamental aspects of supramolecular self-assembly on solid surfaces and its application towards functionalization of two-dimensional materials. I am also interested in on-surface covalent chemistry.
One part of my research concerns the investigation of fundamentals aspects of both supramolecular self-assembly (2D crystal engineering, stimuli-responsive systems…) and chemisorption of molecules on surfaces. I am also applying these concepts to functionalize 2D materials (graphene, transition metal dichalcogenides) in a highly controlled way in order to tune their properties. Other aspects of my work deal with SPM characterization of graphene nanoribbons and block co-oligomers.
Johannes did his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Karl-Heinz Ernst at Empa-Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology and received his degree from the University of Zurich in 2014. Currently he is a postdoctoral fellow working on chiral induction effects in self-assembling monolayers on covalently modified surfaces.
Lakshya obtained his PhD in Physics with specialization in ARPES and STM studies of 2D materials. Currently he is working on developing surface functionalization techniques for passivation of 2D TMDs and Black Phosphorus.
Nerea obtained her PhD under the supervision of Dr. David González-Rodríguez at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) in 2016. Currently, she is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Steven De Feyter, where her research focuses on 2D polymers, covalent organic frameworks (COFs) and their surface-supported synthesis.
Sugosh obtained his PhD at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, India with Dr. G. B. Dutt. His doctoral work revolved around understanding solute dynamics in ionic liquids and ionic liquid-molecular solvent binary mixtures by employing time resolved fluorescence techniques. Currently his research is focussed towards investigating pi-conjugated systems using Tip Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy.
I obtained Ph.D. at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre under the supervision of Dr. Bhaskar Dutt. I am a Marie-Curie postdoctoral fellow and I am studying the impact of room temperature ionic liquids on the electronic properties of graphene using SPM and Raman techniques. I am also interested in 2D crystal engineering and surface-confined stimulus-responsive systems.
Gaolei ZHAN obtained his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Frank Palmino and Prof. Frédéric Chérioux at Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté in 2017. His research interest lies in the investigation of supramolecular networks and on surface reactions by STM-UHV. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Prof. Steven De Feyter, working on the 2D-INK Project.
My research focuses on the imaging of 2D polymers and higher-order supramolecular complexes formed through the self-assembly of proteins. This work is carried out in collaboration with Prof. Arnout Voet.
Zhenfeng CAI obtained his PhD under the supervision of Prof. Li-Jun Wan and Prof. Dong Wang at Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2018. His research interest lies in the STM investigation of surface nanostructures and electrochemical process.
I am interested in studying the fundamental aspects of 2D self-assembly in graphitic substrates using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) as a characterization tool.
I focus on covalently functionalizing and nanopatterning graphite and graphene substrates. My goal is to tune graphene’s electronic properties (e.g. introducing semiconducting concepts such as a bandgap, doping etc.) using aryl diazonium chemistry, resulting in modified graphene structures with covalently bound aryl species.
Gina studied physics at University La Sapienza of Rome. She is doing joint PhD between KU Leuven and Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Brescia, Italy). Focus of her project is to study the electronic properties and the charge transfer of diazonium molecules grafted on graphene. The techniques that she is using are: X-ray photoemission spectroscopy, angular resolved photoemission spectroscopy and non-linear photoemission spectroscopy.
For my PhD I focus on the fundamental aspects of covalently functionalizing graphitic surfaces with a secondary aim of designing new patterning approaches for these molecular units. To gather a deeper insight, I mainly use AFM supplemented by STM and Raman spectroscopy.
Lander focusses on spatially confined 2D supramolecular self-assembly and reactivity on graphitic surfaces. He is supported by an FWO fellowship.
Scanning probe techniques provide high spatial resolution but usually limited chemical specificity. This is a problem for characterising nanoscale material properties and heterogeneities that a standard SPM might be blind to. I am developing a strong and stable Tip-Enhanced Raman Scattering (TERS) system, which provides the chemical information of Raman at a resolution similar to SPM, and applying this technique to relevant systems of interest.
My PhD entails functionalization of 2D materials using physisorbed self-assembled networks. I focus on the elucidation of the relation between the organization of organic molecules on the surface and the effect of this organization on the electronic properties of 2D materials. To correlate structure and properties I use SPM techniques (STM and AFM), Raman spectroscopy and electrical devices.
Tine focuses on the biophysics of DNA and the interaction with proteins. Research topics include single molecule AFM imaging, DNA mechanics and viral integration, this in collaboration with Prof. Zeger Debyser.
The focus of my PhD is on correlative single molecule fluorescence and AFM imaging of higher order nucleoprotein complexes in disease states. AFM can visualize single biomolecules with nanometer resolution, whereas fluorescence microscopy reveals the molecular constitution of these complexes. We study the interaction of several chromatin readers and nucleosomes in the framework of a collaboration with Prof. Debyzer.
My research focuses on self-assembly of annulene derivatives inside nano sized compartments formed on graphite surface. The compartments, so called, nanocorrals are created via covalent modification of the graphite surface using diazonium chemistry. I study how the lateral confinement inside the nanocorrals affects the self-assembly of annulene derivatives compared to that on flat graphite terraces.
My PhD research topic is to investigate the impact of covalent surface modifications on the 2D crystallisation of organic molecules. Microfluidic flow-chemistry is being used to study molecular self-assembly under dynamic conditions. Scanning tunnelling microscopy and Raman spectroscopy are used to explore the nature of the surface before and after self-assembly.
For my master thesis I investigated the covalent modification (grafting) of gold substrates through the electrochemical reduction of diazonium salts and subsequently the impact of the grafted molecules on self-assembly on gold. As a PhD student, I continue that research.
Secretary to Steven De Feyter