Microscale Motion and Light

Workshop Report

The main focus of our workshop ‘Microscale Motion and Light’ were the relationships between light as a driving force for micromotors, the optical influences and the photocatalytic reactions that dictate the boundary conditions as energy suppliers. Additional value was conveyed to this meeting by discussions of microscopic techniques such as differential Dynamic microscopy and super-resolution microscopy, or the use of enhanced learning techniques to improve motion on the microscale

Participants consisted of an international mixture of physicists, chemists, engineers and biologists. Organizer Thomas Mallouk and his long term collaborator Ayusman Sen, for the longest time both professors at Penn State University, are two of the founders of the light driven motors field and contributed their experience and knowledge to create truly interdisciplinary discussions. The photochemical expertise was represented among others by Bettina Lotsch, who presented novel materials ranging from covalent organic frameworks to carbonitrides. Insights in particle-based photocatalysis were given by Frank Osterloh, who lectured on the physical chemical differences on photocatalysis and photosynthetic processes. Alejandro Baeza spoke about light-responsive nanocarriers for anti-tumor drugs, bringing biological insights and applications to the discussion.  More entertaining insights on the potential of organic dyes in efficient photocatalytic reactions were given by Burkhard König. Local expertise from Saxonian universities were represented for example by Larysa Baraban from TU Dresden and Frank Cichos from Leipzig University. The beautiful MPI campus was enthusiastically embraced by several accompanying families who quickly occupied the table tennis plate and the kicker. Everybody complimented the great culinary delicacies that the canteen served day after day.

How did scientific newcomers present themselves: However, the workshop would not have been the lively, active dialogue it was without all the international young participants from different European countries, China, Brazil, Gaza and Hawaii. Many of the speakers were at the PhD or postdoc level and gave direct insights into experimental realizations and progress. The youngest speaker from the University of Northern Arizona is just about to start his PhD program. During the coffee breaks and on Tuesday evening, 16 PhD students and postdocs presented their work in posters and the best two presentations were awarded prizes from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The scientific results of the workshop in the broader sense: Scientifically, the workshop and all the enthusiastic speakers ensured that everybody learned something new. This input of knowledge started many interdisciplinary discussions during the coffee breaks which will hopefully be continued on a frequent base. The workshop led to enhanced interactions between the two fields, first results had been presented by Prof. Lotsch with a collaboration with the Sitti group, but new connections were also made during the workshop. These will enhance the analytical quality of micromotors papers and offer some new applications for their materials to the photochemists. A strong focus on light and microscopic interaction ranging from Leipzig to Prague was identified and will lead to more close interactions in the future. Additionally, all participants were able to gain an impression of the active exchange that the MPI workshops can foster and a few of the participants are considering applying for the MPI guest program. It was not only the well-connected Dresden scientific landscape that contributed to this, but also the natural beauty of the Bastei, the destination of the afternoon excursion.