My name is Christian Brand, and I’m currently a postdoc research fellow in the group of Markus Arndt at the University of Vienna. Here I work on the diffraction of molecular matter-waves in the optical far-field. Before I went to Vienna I studied chemistry at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany. After completing my studies I joined the group of Michael Schmitt as a PhD student and studied the photophysics of indole and its derivatives with rotationally resolved electronic spectroscopy. This technique allows to reconstruct the geometry of a molecule both in its electronic ground and excited state from the relative positions of the rotational transitions. This yields valuable information about biomolecules based on the indole base frame, such as the hormone melatonin, and the neurotransmitters tryptamine and serotonin.
After completing my PhD, I searched for an interesting new research field to pursue in the future. By chance I came across matter-wave interferometry of large polyatomic molecules, and I was electrified. Of course, you hear about the famous statement by Louis de Broglie that you can assign a wavelength λ to every moving particle in introductory physics lectures, but it seemed more a question of theoretical concern. However, Markus Arndt and his group managed to prove the wave-nature of molecules as heavy as 10 000 atomic mass units by letting them interfere in advanced matter-wave interferometers. Additionally, they used the high force sensitivity of the delocalized matter for fundamental tests of quantum physics and advances spectroscopy schemes.
Since autumn 2013 I’m a member of this group and study the interaction between delocalized molecules and different diffraction masks in detail. The gratings that we use have a thickness between 100 nm and a single layer of atoms, e.g. single layer graphene. The molecules we are delocalizing range from organic dye molecules to neurotransmitter. Our work aims at understanding the interactions that occur between molecule and grating and prepare diffraction elements of the next generation for experiments with heavier and more complex molecules, like proteins.
Birth: 05.10.1982 in Eckernförde, Germany
Marital status: married to Sandra Knuffinke
Since 01.2020 Group leader at the Institute of Quantum Technologies (German Aerospace Center) in Ulm, Germany
10.2019 – 12.2019 Scientific staff at the Institute of Quantum Technologies (German Aerospace Center) in Ulm, Germany (part-time)
10.2013 – 12.2019 PostDoc in the group of Quantum Nanophysics & Molecular Quantum Optics (Prof. Dr. M. Arndt) at the University of Vienna, Austria
02.2013 – 10.2013 PostDoc in the group of high-resolution laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (Prof. Dr. M. Schmitt) at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany
07.2008 – 01.2013 PhD in the group of high-resolution laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy (Prof. Dr. M. Schmitt) at the Heinrich-Heine-University in Düsseldorf, Germany
10.2003 – 05.2008 Diploma in chemistry at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany
Awards and Fellowships
- Young Scientist Prize in Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics 2016 of the European Physical Society
- Feodor Lynen Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
- Finalist for the dissertation prize of the German Physical Society (AMOP)
Editorial Board Member
- Data in Brief
- Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft
- American Physical Society
- European Physical Society
A list of contributions to conferences can be found here.