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A diary of some remarkable events at the IAP and beyond …

Immune system: T-cells are designed for speed

2018-July-17 T-cell study

  • T cells, a key component of our immune system, detect smallest amounts of bacterial or viral portions with their T cell receptor (TCR) and serve as an important proponent of the defence mechanism. One explanation, why T cells are super-sensitive is that the TCRs are concentrated at certain areas on the membrane of T cells. Our group, in collaboration with the Medical University of Vienna and the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, could show that TCRs are actually distributed randomly on the cellular membrane of resting T cells and not concentrated in nano-clusters as believed earlier. This study has now been published in Nature Immunology.

The paper can be found here: Nature Immunology (2018)

TU Wien News (in German).

Richard Wilhelm receives the IBMM Prize 2018!

IBMM Prize for Richard Wilhelm IBMM Prize for Richard Wilhelm 2018-June-29

* For his contribution to “the understanding of highly charged ions and their interactions with solid surfaces” Richard Wilhelm from the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group has been honored with this year’s IBMM Prize. The International Advisory Committee of the International Conference on Ion Beam Modification of Material (IBMM) awards this prize biennially to an early career researcher (up to 7 years since PhD) who has made an outstanding contribution to the ion-beam-modification field. The competition for this year’s prize was particularly strong, so we are justly proud of Richard's achievements. As the winner of the IBMM Prize Richard not only received a cash award but also gave an invited talk at the IBMM conference this week in San Antonio Texas. Congratulations Richard!

TU Wien News (in German)

Inaugural Lecture Markus Valtiner

Antrittsvorlesung Valtiner


* Today Markus Valtiner gave his long-awaited inaugural lecture at the TU Vienna. The audience (among them vice rector Fröhlich, the deans Burgdörfer and Danninger as well as colleagues of the faculties of physics and chemistry, representatives of industry, students, friends and family) got an entertaining insight into the world of corrosion and liquid-solid interfaces, supported by practical demonstrations.

Building Bridges with Water Molecules

2018-June-27 Water, water everywhere!

  • Our paper about water adsorption on Fe3O4(001) has been published in PNAS. We are particularly proud of this work it was a very complex problem and it took the best of our capabilities in imaging, spectroscopy and theory to unravel. In the picture you see on of the structures formed in which water molecules adsorb on the surface Fe cations, with additional molecules bridging the gaps in a periodic fashion. Congratulations to all involved!

The paper can be found here: “Water agglomerates on Fe3O4(001)”PNAS (2018)

and the usual brilliant write up from Florian Aigner here: TU Wien News. It was picked up by news media der Standard, apa

Prof. Franz Viehbock attends his granddaughter's graduation ceremony

Franz Viehböck


* The founder and first director (1966 - 1987) of the IAP Institute Prof. Franz Viehböck (already considerable 94 years old) participated today in the graduation ceremony of his granddaughter Carina, who successfully completed the Biomedical Engineering Master (and before that the Bachelor in Physics) at the TU Wien. The photo shows him together with his son Franz Viehböck (Austria's only “Austronaut” in space to date), his granddaughter Carina and the current director of the institute, Fritz Aumayr, who led the ceremony on behalf of our dean.

"Double Jackpot" for IAP at this year's Best Teaching Awards

Best lecture award 2017 and 2018


* At today's teaching award ceremony, the institute cleared all available prizes for the faculty of physics, leaving no chance for the other institutes. The prize for “Best Teacher 2018” of the faculty of physics went to Martin Müller, while the course “Grundlagen der Physik III” (Fundamentals of Physics III) taught by Fritz Aumayr and Martin Müller received the “Best Lecture Award 2018” of the Faculty of Physics, TU Wien. The prize honors excellence in teaching and consists of a trophy, a certificate and 5000 euros to be spent on new teaching equipment. This year the prizes were awarded for the second time. Last year the institute had already received the Best Lecture award for the course “Grundlagen der Physik I”.

Press release of TU Wien (in German), YouTube Video

Habilitation Martin Setvin

2018-June-13 Dozent Dr. Martin Setvin

  • Martin Setvin successfully defends his habilitation thesis. He soon will receive the 'venia legendi', the right to teach and to officially supervise students' bachelor, master, and PhD theses at TU Wien. Congratulations!

The true power of the solar wind

Solar Wind


* The solar wind, a steady stream of mainly protons and few multiply charged heavier ions from the sun, causes significant erosion upon impact on the surface of atmosphere-less planets like Mercury or on the moon. In a recent paper Paul Szabo and co-workers now show that previous models of this process are incomplete. The effects of solar wind bombardment are in some cases much more drastic than previously thought. The role of solar wind constituents heavier than protons and in particular the role of the particles charge state has so far been underestimated.

Link to original publication in Icarus, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English), ORF.at, derStandard, futurezone.at

Reinforcement for our administrative team

2018-May-2 Guni Yasin

  • Since May 2, 2018 Mrs. Gunhild Yasin has joined our secretary team. Welcome to IAP!

T cell antigen receptors act alone: longstanding immunological mystery solved!

Mario Brameshuber 2018-April-17

* As an indispensable part of our immune system, T cells protect us from the onslaught of bacteria and viruses and also from cancer. What happens on a molecular level when T cells detect suspicious activity in the body? In a recent paper, Mario Brameshuber and co-workers from the Biophysics group and from the Medical University of Vienna revealed that the immune receptors of T cells operate in unsuspected ways. While most opinion leaders in the field reasoned that T cell receptors must interact with one another for effective immune-signaling, the Viennese study shows: T cell receptors act alone. The study has now been published in the journal “Nature Immunology”.

The article in Nature Immunology; Read-only link of publication.

TU Press release in English and German
Media coverage: derStandardAPA

"look! Business Award" for Ille Gebeshuber

Look! Business Award for Ille Gebeshuber 2018-April-11

* For the fourth time, women with vision and courage to take risks have been awared with the “look! Business Award”, women in management positions, founders and managers. Ille Gebeshuber was honored in the category “MINT Industries”. The laudation was held by Karin Zipperer from ASFINAG, the sponsor of this category. Congratulations Ille!

NEW Poster Printer (Canon imagePROGRAF iPF785)


New Poster Printer

  • We got a new Poster Printer. Location is the same like the old one but you need a new driver (see installation guide).

The Canon imagePROGRAF iPF785 has the IP-Addresss

Vibration Isolation Patent

2018-March-20 High-resolution microscope suspended for vibration isolation

  • The Surface Physics Group has patented a device for suspending a load in a vibration-insulated manner, designed for high-resolution microscopy and nanotechnology. While other similar instruments are usually placed in the basement of a building in a quiet environment, the low-temperature non-contact AFM/STM at the IAP/TU Wien suspended according to the invention delivers excellent performance in spite of its place in the 5th floor of a building in downtown Vienna! The patented vibration isolation system also features accurate levelling even under changing load distribution during operation.

For more information, see the TU press release (English, German), the Youtube movie, article in Der Standard or the Feature in Nature on high-performance microscopy

Gaede-Prize for Gareth Parkinson

2018-March-13 Gareth receives the Gaede Prize

  • Gareth Parkinson is awarded the Gaede Prize at the Spring Meeting of the German Physical Society in Berlin, Germany. This prize is given out annually to a young scientist who has made outstanding contributions to the field of vacuum science and technology.


Avoiding the Polar Catastrophe

The labyrinth is the way out 2018-Feb-02

  • Ionic crystals - materials that are composed of positively and negatively charged ions - can be put into a highly unfavorable situation. When split in half along certain crystallographic directions the electrostatic energy diverges. To alleviate this so-called polar catastrophe, materials can react in a variety of ways. In a recent paper, Martin Setvin and co-workers from the Surface Physics group and from the University of Vienna show the surface of a KTaO3(001) single crystal after cleaving, heating, and exposure to water vapor. Six different mechanisms to compensate polarity are encountered. One of the most pretty solutions, a nano-labyrinth with 4-5 atom-wide walls, is shown in the image on the right.

The article in Science ⋅ TU Press release in English and German
Media coverage: die PresseAPAWelt der Physik

Loschmidt-Prize for Elisabeth Gruber

Award Ceremony at Univ. Wien 2018-Jan-23

  • One week after recieving the Hannspeter Winter Award from TU Wien, Elisabeth Gruber was awarded the next prize: Elisabeth Gruber is one of two recipients of this year's Loschmidt Prize. This prize is awarded annually by the Austrian Chemical Physics Society CPG for an outstanding PhD thesis. Elisabeth Gruber received her doctorate in 2017 under the guidance of Prof. Friedrich Aumayr; her thesis is entitled “Interaction of Ions with 3D and 2D materials”. Dr. Gruber is currently a post-doc at Aarhus University. Congratulations!

"JSPS 141st Committee Award" for Peter Varga

Peter Varga 2017-Dec-4

  • During the opening ceremony of the ALC'17 conference in Kauai/Hawaii today Peter Varga received the Award of the 141st Committee on Microbeam Analysis of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) for (quote) ”… his distinguished contribution on the clarification of surface phenomena by atomic level investigation and the development of novel functional materials”! Congratulations, Peter!

Hannspeter Winter award 2017 for Elisabeth Gruber

Elisabeth Gruber 2017-Nov-13

  • The Hannspeter Winter Award, named after our former institute director, was established at the TU Wien in 2007 and honours achievements in research in PhD projects by female graduate students. It also aims to increase awareness of notable achievements of women in the field of research and technology. The prize is awarded annually and this year our institute is proud to announce that it has been awarded to Dr. Elisabeth Gruber who recently finished her PhD thesis under the supervision of Fritz Aumayr. Congratulations Elisabeth! The award ceremony will take place on Jan. 19th, 2018 at 1 pm in the Kuppelsaal of TU Wien.

Kardinal Innitzer Award for Gareth Parkinson

Gareth Parkinson at the Palace of the Austrian Arch Bishop 2017-Nov-11

  • For his outstanding habilitation thesis, Gareth Parkinson is awarded the 'Förderpreis' of the Kardinal Innitzer Studienstiftung. The award ceremony took place at the formidable Episcopal Palace, located in the center of Vienna. Gareth's family came all the way from England to celebrate.

Markus Valtiner wins AVS Peter Mark Memorial Award

Don Baer, Head of the AVS Award Committee with Awardee Markus Valtiner 2017-Nov-01

  • Each year the AVS awards one outstanding young scientist the 'Peter Mark Memorial Award, named for the Editor of the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology. This year our new professor, Markus Valtiner, has received this high recognition “For advancing understanding of physical and chemical mechanisms at molecular, nano- and microscales that impact adhesion and friction at electrified interfaces and for the development of novel stimuli-responsive materials”. Congratulations, Prof. Valtiner!

Ille C. Gebeshuber declared "Austrian of the Year 2017 (Category Research)"

Ille Gebeshuber 2017-Sep-25

  • During the Austria'17 Gala yesterday Ille Gebeshuber was declared “Austrian of the Year 2017 in the Category Research”. Our congratulations to the proud winner!

Applied Interface Physics - a new research area at IAP

Valtiner group 2017-Oct-01

  • With the arrival of Professor Markus Valtiner and the first members of his team today, a new research area is being established at IAP. Welcome to Vienna and welcome to the IAP!

A portrait of new professor (in German) can be found here

The solution to an old riddle

ICD 2017-Sep-08

  • For more than 20 years atomic physicists have speculated about the mechanism, which allows “hollow atoms” to deexcited with a few femtoseconds. Experiments conducted by Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of Fritz Aumayr with highly charged ions and graphene now show that the reason is an effect so far not accounted for: the so-called “interatomic coulomb decay”. Their results have now been published in the journal “Physical Review Letters” and have been highlighted there as “editors' suggestion”.

Link to original publication in PRL
Press release of TU Wien in German, in English
media coverage: Der Standard, futurezone.at

Tenure for Gareth Parkinson

2017-September-01 Gareth and his research group

  • We are extremely pleased to learn that Gareth Parkinson has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. He will continue his highly-successful research into the surface science of heterogeneous catalysis together with his growing surface physics subgroup focused on iron oxides.

Habilitation for Stijn Mertens

2017-July-10 Stijn Mertens

  • Stijn Mertens successfully defends his habilitation thesis. This is the last step towards receiving the venia legendi, the right to teach and to officially supervise graduate students at TU Wien. Congratulations, Stijn!

Newly appointed Senior Scientist at IAP

Senior Scientist Dr. Mario Brameshuber

2017-July-1 * Since July 1st, 2017 Dr. Mario Brameshuber supports the Biophysics Research Area as Senior Scientist.

"Best Lecture Award 2017" in physics goes to Fritz Aumayr, Martin Müller and Wolfgang Werner

Best Lecture Award 2017 logo


* The course “Grundlagen der Physik I” (Fundamentals of Physics I) taught by Fritz Aumayr, Martin Müller and Wolfgang Werner received the “Best Lecture Award 2017” of the Faculty of Physics in a ceremony held today at TU Wien. The prize consisting of a trophy, a certificate and 5000 Euros to be spent on new teaching equipment was awarded for the first time and and honors excellence in teaching.

Press release of TU Wien (in German),YouTube Video

Florian Laggner leaves for Princeton

(c) die Presse 2017-May-20

* After finishing his PhD in the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group Florian Laggner is now heading for Princeton (New Jersey - USA) to start his PostDoc in Fusion research on June 1, 2017 at the prestigeous Princeton University. But before he left, he gave an interview to the Austrian Newspaper Die Presse (in German).

A new face in our administrative team!

Katharina Pois 2017-May-17

  • Mrs. Katharin Pois now supports our administrative team as part-time employee. Welcome to IAP!

Promotion "sub auspiciis" for Roland Bliem

2017-May-16 Dr. Roland Bliem

  • Roland Bliem graduates with a "promotio sub auspiciis praesidentis rei publicae"”. This honour is based on top academic performance and is awarded to only a handful of PhD students in the whole country. With a GPA of 1.0 (the best grade on Austria's 5-point scale) from high school all the way through his studies at the university, Roland is one of the selected few. A big day for Roland, the institute, and the surface physics group.

TU press release (in German) der standard Tiroler Tageszeitung

Switching Oxygen Molecules On and Off

2017-March-14 The qPlus sensor with the tip at the left

  • The oxygen molecule O2 is chemically inert (except at high temperatures), but becomes reactive when an additional electron gets added. This process happens in biology, catalysis and can be also triggered by light on some surfaces. Martin Setvin of the Surface Physics Group managed to switch oxygen molecules adsorbed at a titanium dioxide surface back and forth between the non-reactive (neutral) and reactive (O2-) state and examine them in detail using non-contact atomic-force microscopy (nc-AFM) with the tiny tip of a so-called qPlus sensor (image). The results were published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).

Publication in PNAS
TU Press Release in English and German
Media Coverage: APA · Der Standard · ORF · MyScience · Chemie.de

Eva Sevcsik receives Elise Richter Fellowship

Dr. Eva Sevcsik


* The Elise Richter Fellowship by the FWF provides research funds to support the academic career of highly qualified female scientists and scholars and to enhance their university career. Dr. Eva Sevcsik was officially awarded the fellowship by the president of the FWF, Klement Tockner, and the department head of the Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Barbara Weitgruber, earlier this year. The project titled “Lipid Interactions of the T-Cell Receptor Complex” was started in April 2017 in the Biophysics group of Prof. Gerhard Schütz and in close collaboration with the Medical University of Vienna.

Molecule flash mob

CSM flashmob 2017-Jan-19

  • Neurotransmitter transporters are some of the most popular transport proteins in research as they play a major role in the processing of signals in the brain. A joint study by our biophysics group and the Medical University of Vienna has now successfully demonstrated for the first time the structural impact of membrane lipids on medically relevant serotonin transporters.

Link to original publication in Nature Communications, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English), Press release of MedUni Wien (in German)

Elisabeth Gruber hits the TU headlines for the second time in this year!

Elisabeth Gruber 2016-Dec-21

  • With her first-author paper published today in Nature Communications, Elisabeth Gruber, PhD student in the Atomic and Plasma Physics Group of Fritz Aumayr, made the TU headlines already for the second time in this year (see the news from 2016-Aug-29 below). In her work, she demonstrated that graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, is able to provide tens of electrons for charge neutralization of a slow highly charged ion within a few femtoseconds only. This in turn results in extremely high current densities, which the graphene can withstand without suffering permanent damage.

Link to original publication in Nature Communications, Press release of TU Wien (in German), Press release of TU Wien (in English), ORF.at, Der Standard, APA Press release of HZDR (in German)

Habilitation Gareth Parkinson

Gareth Parkinson 2016-October-03

  • Gareth Parkinson successfully defends his habilitation and our institute gains a newly-minted 'Dozent'. Congratulations!

Kathi Dobes selected as “FEMtech Female Expert of the Month”

Katharina Dobes (© Klaus Ranger - Evotion) 2016-September-24

Meteorite Impact on a Nano Scale

HCI-surface interaction 2016-August-29

  • A meteorite impacting the earth under a grazing angle of incidence can

do a lot of damage; it may travel a long way, carving a trench into the ground until it finally penetrates the surface. The impact site may be vaporized, there can be large areas of molten ground. All that remains is a crater, some debris, and an extensive trail of devastation on both sides of the impact site.

Hitting a surface with high-energy, heavy ions has quite similar effects – only on a much smaller scale. In a recent publication researchers from the IAP Atomic and Plasma Physics Group have investigated the microscopic structures which are formed when ions are fired at crystals at oblique angles of incidence and could shed light on the underlying formation mechanism.

Link to original publication. Press release of the TU Wien (in German), Press release of the TU Wien (in English), ORF, APA article Der Standard

We welcome our new electronics technician!

2016-Aug-16 H. Zlabinger

  • We welcome Mr. Heinrich Zlabinger, who started working in our electronics workshop today.

The Pairing and Separation of Pt Atoms

2016-July-28 A Pt dimer at the Fe<sub>3</sub>O<sub>4</sub> surface

  • Sintering - the aggregation of catalytically active, metallic nanoparticles into bigger clumps - is one of the major causes of catalyst de-activation. This is particularly important in the emerging field of single-atom catalysis, the main research topic of the START project of Gareth Parkinson. A detailed STM and DFT study, mainly conducted by Roland Bliem, and published in PNAS, shows how single Pt atoms on the Fe3O4(001) surface are made mobile by CO, and how they merge into bigger clusters. Interestingly, the smallest cluster, a Pt dimer, is stabilized by the CO molecules. When the sample is heated, and the CO desorbs, and the two Pt atoms separate again.

Original Publication
TU press release APA (subscribers only) der Standard Tiroler Tageszeitung

We welcome our new secretary!

2016-July-1 D. Harantova

  • Mrs. Dana Harantova has joined our administrative team today. Welcome to IAP!

Making it Stick on the Cover of Nature


  • The article "Switching stiction and adhesion of a liquid on a solid" by Stijn Mertens et al. is featured on this week's cover of Nature Magazine. The work describes dynamic contact angle measurements of a single drop of 0.1 M HClO4 on a single layer of BN supported on Rh(111). Friction can be changed reversibly by applying an appropriate electrochemical potential that leads to the intercalation of H between BN and the Rh.

Christian Doppler Award for Roland Bliem

2016-June-17 LR Martina Berthold, Daniel Rettenwander, Roland Bliem (http://service.salzburg.gv.at/lkorrj/Index?cmd=detail_ind&nachrid=56686)

  • Roland Bliem, a PhD student in our Institute, has received the Christian-Doppler-Preis 2015 in the category Physics for his work on metal adsorption on the magnetite (001) surface. The Christian-Doppler-Preis is the science award of Roland's home province Salzburg, awarded biennially to researchers under 40 years of age. It is named after the famous physicist Christian Doppler who was born in Salzburg in 1803.

Salzburger Nachrichten
Aktuelles TU Wien

Ille Gebeshuber returns from Malaysia

2016-April-1 Prof. Ille C. Gebeshuber

  • After more than 7 years of leave from TU Wien Prof. Ille C. Gebeshuber returns from Kuala Lumpur, where she worked at the National University of Malaysia (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia). Welcome back Ille!

Herbert Störi awarded with "Ehrenbürgerschaft der TU Wien"

Herbert Störi awared with "honorary citicenship of TU Wien" 2016-March-1

  • Honoring his commitment and exemplary leadership in establishing the super computers “Vienna Scientific Cluster” (VSC1, VSC2, and VSC3), our rector awards Prof. Herbert Störi an honorary citizenship of TU Wien (Ehrenbürgerschaft der TU Wien). Congratulations Herbert!

TU Webnews (in German)

Zbynek Novotny receives Loschmidt Prize

Zybnek Novotny (4th from left 2016-January-19

  • Dr. Zbynek Novotny is one of two recipients of this year's Loschmidt Prize. This prize is awarded annually by the Austrian Chemical Physics Society for an outstanding PhD thesis. Zbynek received his doctorate in 2013 under the guidance of Prof. Ulrike Diebold; his thesis is entitled “The Fe3O4 Surface as an Adsorption Template”. He is currently a post-doc the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Washington State, U.S. Congratulations!

TU Webnews (in German)

Archive of Previous IAP News (2006-2015)

news/index.txt · Last modified: 2018-08-16 10:34 by Friedrich Aumayr