Interactive Surfaces, INM

Interactive Surfaces

Our research department studies the mechanical properties of materials with a focus on surfaces. We aim to understand mechanisms of adhesion, friction, and wear through innovative experiments and to contribute to the design of new materials with mechanical functions. Example projects address the contact mechanics of novel lubricants, the nanomechanics of biomaterials, and the tactile perception of micro-structured materials.

Aleeza-Farrukh, INM – Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH
Prof. Dr. Roland Bennewitz
Head of Interactive Surfaces
Telefon: +49 (0)681-9300-213
Team Members
Phone: +49 (0)681-9300-238
Phone: +49 (0)681-9300-453
Phone: +49 (0)681-9300-238
Phone: +49 (0)681-9300-108/251
Phone: +49 (0)681-9300-373
Phone: +49 (0)681-9300-272
Phone: +49 (0)681-9300-416

Molecular mechanics of soft matter

We use high-resolution force microscopy (AFM) in aqueous solution to study molecular forces at the surface of soft matter. Single-molecule force spectroscopy on hydrogels contributes to the understanding and control of the mechanisms of bioadhesion and mechanotransduction on biomaterials. In active materials, we employ light-activated molecular motors for the mechanical stimulation. For rapid force measurements on the single-molecular level, we develop novel high-throughput techniques based on tethered-particle motion in microfluidic devices.

Relevant publications:


Friction force microscopy in ultra-high vacuum or in aqueous solutions reveals molecular mechanisms of friction. As one example, we investigate the limits of superlubricity in 2D materials under high local pressure. We also move our research towards a nanotribology of hydrogels and study dissipative interactions of single fluctuating polymers.

Relevant publications:

Tactile perception of materials

Fingertip friction plays a key role in the tactile exploration of materials and in the perception of material properties and surfaces structures. We implement psychophysical studies to find correlations between fingertip friction and individual judgement on touch of materials.

Relevant publications:

Materials for the future of tactile communication

Materials with switchable surface structure offer opportunities to quickly convey information to humans by varying the touch experience. We develop micro-structured elastomers which change the surface shape by applied electric fields or pneumatic mechanisms. The sensory reaction to such stimulation of touch is evaluated by EEG and MEG experiments.

Relevant publications:


Single-polymer friction force microscopy of dsDNA interacting with a nano-porous membrane

Schellnhuber, Kordula | Blass, Johanna | Hübner, Hanna | Gallei, Markus | Bennewitz, Roland

Langmuir , 2023, 40 (1), 968-974.

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Formation of intermittent covalent bonds at high contact pressure limits superlow friction on epitaxial graphene

Szczefanowicz, Bartosz | Kuwahara, Takuya | Filleter, Tobin | Klemenz, Andreas | Mayrhofer, Leonhard | Bennewitz, Roland | Moseler, Michael

2023, 5 (1), L012049.

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Tactile perception of randomly rough surfaces

Sahli, Riad | Prot, Aubin | Wang, Anle | Müser, Martin H. | Piovarči, Michal | Didyk, Piotr | Bennewitz, Roland

Scientific Reports , 2020, 10 (1), 15800.

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Bending as Key Mechanism in the Tactile Perception of Fibrillar Surfaces

Gedsun, Angelika | Sahli, Riad | Meng, Xing | Hensel, René | Bennewitz, Roland

Advanced Materials Interfaces , 2022, 9 (4), 2101380.

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The mechanics of single cross-links which mediate cell attachment at a hydrogel surface

Çolak, Arzu | Li, Bin | Blass, Johanna | Koynov, Kaloian | del Campo, Aranzazu | Bennewitz, Roland

Nanoscale , 2019, 11 (24), 11596–11604.