Plenary sessions


The line-up of the plenary speakers is outstanding and these events are wonderful opportunities to learn and to be inspired. The collective wisdom, perspective, and leadership experience of the three individuals will be a highlight of the conference week.

Three outstanding speakers have already confirmed their participation:

  • Prof. Ben Feringa - University of Groningen, The Netherlands - Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2016)
  • Prof. André Geim - University of Manchester, U.K. - Nobel Laureate in Physics (2010)
  • Prof. Ulrike Diebold - TU Vienna, Austria

It's hard to imagine a richer offering of speakers. And that's the point of the plenary sessions: they provide a shared experience for all conference attendees.

Plenary sessions are a time for a break from the details of your week, a time to be stimulated and to reflect on the values that brought us to the field and that continue to motivate us each day.


Preliminary program:

Tuesday 1 June, 2021 (8:45 - 9:30)



Responsive Materials and Molecular Motors

Ben L. Feringa

University of Groningen, Stratingh Institute for Chemistry
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Nijenborgh 4, 9747 AG, Groningen
The Netherlands

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (2016)



The fascinating molecular motors and machines that sustain life offer a great source of inspiration to the molecular explorer at the nanoscale.   Among the major challenges ahead in the design of complex artificial molecular systems and is the control over dynamic properties and responsive far-from-equilibrium behavior. Chemical systems and adaptive materials ultimately require integration of structure, organization and function of multi-component dynamic molecular assemblies at different hierarchical levels. A major goal is to achieve and exploit translational and rotary motion.

In this presentation the focus is on the dynamics of functional molecular systems as well as triggering and assembly processes. We design motors in which molecular motion is coupled to specific functions. Responsive behavior will be illustrated in self-assembly and responsive materials with a focus on cooperative action, amplification along multiple length scales and 2D and 3D organized systems. The design, synthesis and functioning of rotary molecular motors and machines will also be presented with a prospect toward future dynamic molecular systems and responsive materials

Information on

- Molecular Machines: Nature, September 2015

- Molecular Switches:  Chemistry World, June 2016

- Vision statement “Materials in Motion”: Adv. Mater. 2020


Wednesday 2 June, 2021 (8:45 - 9:30)


Two-dimensional emptiness and its unique properties

Prof. André K. Geim
University of Manchester

Nobel Laureate in Physics (2010)

I shall provide an overview of our recent research on atomic-scale flat capillaries fabricated by van der Waals assembly of 2D crystals. These ultimately narrow structures can be viewed as if an individual atomic plane were extracted from a bulk crystal leaving behind a 2D empty space, essentially an angstrom-size gap connecting two edge dislocations. Gas, liquid, ion and proton transport have been studied using such 2D channels down to one atom in height, revealing many interesting and sometimes completely unexpected properties.


Thursday 3 June, 2021 (8:45 - 9:30)


Surfaces at the atomic scale

Prof. Ulrike Diebold
TU Wien
Vienna, Austria


Surfaces often dominate the functionality of materials; understanding their fundamental properties can provide essential input in many applications.  While, unfortunately, surfaces contaminate quickly in the ambient, the ultrahigh vacuum techniques developed over the past few decades allow probing them at the atomic scale.  In conjunction with DFT, much progress has been made in applying these methodologies to a diverse set of questions.

I will discuss several examples drawn from (i) ‘single-atom catalysis’, where catalytically active nanoclusters are shrunk to their ultimate limit of one atom; (ii) assessing the Brønsted acidity of individual surface sites with non-contact Atom Force Microscopy; and (iii) using the surface structure on complex oxides for perfecting the growth of heteroepitaxial films.  If time permits, I will also touch on ongoing efforts to extend surface science experiments to the solid-liquid interface.

Conference Chairpersons
Catherine DUBOURDIEU Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH - Freie Universität Berlin

Hahn-Meitner-Platz 1, D-14109 Berlin, Germany

+49 (0)162 4062 589
Giovanni MARLETTAUniversity of Catania

Laboratory for Molecular Surfaces and Nanotechnology V.le A.Doria 6 Catania Italy

+39 95 7385130
Paolo SAMORIUniversity of Strasbourg, Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires

8 allée Gaspard Monge, 67000 Strasbourg, France

+33 (0)3 68 855 160
Wenping HUTianjin University

Key Laboratory of Molecular Optoelectronic Sciences, P.R. China