In the nanoworld, systems can be designed to self-organize into ordered structures. For engineering purposes, this phenomenon can be exploited to produce tiniest structures or for self-healing materials .
We currently investigate molecular-scale self-assembly using liquid-cell atomic force microscopy (AFM) , , , , , , , , ,  for sensing applications and to reveal the structural secrets of silk, a complex, biological material.
Prof. Schniepp has a long-standing expertise in self-assembly of surfactant molecules at the solid—liquid interface , , , , , , , , , . Surfactants often make micelle-like structures the on surface with feature size of just a few nanometers. These structures can be visualized using liquid-cell AFM, which is an excellent tool to study them. Surfactants are crucial in many applications, such as detergency, oil recovery, and corrosion inhibition ; they are also a self-healing model system .