Phase Transitions and Transport Phenomena in Thin Films at Solid/Air Interfaces

Understanding of solid/liquid phase transitions, nucleation, structure formation, transport phenomena, and wetting properties of confined systems, in particular molecularly thin films at solid/air interfaces. There is great scientific and technological interest in small, confined systems, ranging from molecularly thin films, molecular clusters, nano-particles, nano-rods, etc., to biological systems. Even bulk systems are affected by confinement effects. For instance, first order phase transitions begin with nucleation, a process dominated by confinement/interfacial effects. Also, many solid bulk materials are not homogeneous. Their properties are affected by their internal nanoscopic or microscopic structure. Hence, investigating phase transition and transport phenomena under confinement is of scientific and technological relevance.

We investigate the following specific topics/questions:

  1. How do nanoscopic interfacial morphologies and line tension affect nucleation and growth of small aggregates?
  2. How does a surrounding interface affect the solid/liquid phase transition behavior of adsorbed liquid films?
  3. How do nanoscopic steps (rims) affect the solid/liquid phase transition behavior of adsorbed films?
  4. How do interfacial properties affect the coalescence be havior of sessile droplets of completely miscible liquids?
  5. How can nucleation and self-organized cluster growth be used to prepare/optimize organic photovoltaic cells?
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