Leonhard Grill studied Physics at the University of Graz where he did his diploma thesis in the group of Falko Netzer in Experimental Surface Science before he moved with a scholarship of the Italian National Institute for Solid State Physics (INFM) to the Laboratorio TASC in Trieste/Italy (supervisor: Silvio Modesti) for his phD studies. He then joined the group of Karl-Heinz Rieder at the Freie Universität Berlin where he entered the field of single-molecule manipulation by scanning tunneling microscopy and became research group leader in 2006. He finished his Habilitation in 2009 at the FU Berlin and moved to the Fritz-Haber-Institute of the Max-Planck-Society (Berlin), becoming group leader in the Department of Physical Chemistry (director: Martin Wolf). Since 2013 he is Full Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Graz.
His research focuses on imaging, characterization and manipulation of single functional molecules adsorbed on surfaces by using scanning tunneling microscopy, typically at cryogenic temperatures and under ultrahigh vacuum conditions. His research covers various topics in the field, from chemical processes in single molecules and on-surface polymerization over charge transport through molecular wires, molecular assemblies, operation of molecular switches and motors, cooperative phenomena in molecular nanostructures to molecular dynamics and microscopic reversibility at surfaces. He received the “Young Leaders in Science” scholarship of the Schering Foundation (2010), the Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology (2011), the Seraphine Puchleitner award (2021) and is winner of the first Nanocar Race (2017).