Our group is part of the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center Hamburg (INCH), the Center for Optical Quantum Technologies (ZOQ) and is coordinating the Sonderforschungsbereich 668 "Magnetismus vom Einzelatom zur Nanostruktur". We have also been involved in the coordination of the Cluster of Excellence "NANOSPINTRONICS", the Center of Competence HanseNanoTec, the German Center of Competence in Nano-Scale Analysis (CCN), and the HanseNanoNet. Additionally, we have contributed to the Sonderforschungsbereich 508 "Quantenmaterialien" as well as to four Graduiertenkollegs of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG): "Physik nanostrukturierter Festkörper", "Spektroskopie an lokalisierten atomaren Systemen", "Design and Characterization of Functional Materials", and "Maßgeschneiderte Metall-Halbleiter-Hybridsysteme". In 2007 the group became partner of the NSF funded excellence network "The Spin triangle". In 2008 the group was awarded with one of the first ERC Advanced Grants (FURORE), followed by a second ERC Advanced Grant (ASTONISH) in 2013.

Our research activities are concentrated on nanometer-scale science and technology based on scanning probe methods (SPM). In particular, we investigate the fundamental relationship between nanostructure and nanophysical properties. We apply scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), magnetic force microscopy (MFM) and other scanning probe methods (SXM) to various classes of materials, including metals, semiconductors, insulators, superconductors, magnetic materials, molecular thin films, and biological systems. Laterally nanostructured materials are obtained by using SPM-based nanofabrication processes, which may be based on strong mechanical, electronical or magnetic interaction between probe tip and sample, as well as by using self-organization phenomena. Future nano-scale devices and ultrahigh density data storage systems are being developed in close collaboration with industry.