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Monday, 17 February 2020
Raw materials & technologies, Raw materials, Coatings binders

German polymers research boosted by new funding

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Work by polymers scientists in Germany could prove fundamental to building greater understanding of chemical building blocks of coatings binders and of future materials design.

Prof. Hans-Jürgen Butt (le.), and Prof. Kurt Kremer   Source: MPIP

Prof. Hans-Jürgen Butt (le.), and Prof. Kurt Kremer   Source: MPIP

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) will further their previous work on the interaction of liquids with super-amphiphobic surfaces, thanks to a 2.5 million EUR grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Headed by its director Prof. Hans-Jürgen Butt, the institute’s 65-strong ‘Physics at Interfaces’ work group first succeeded in 2011 in developing super-amphiphobic surfaces on which all liquids – even heavily wetting ones like oil and blood – roll off without leaving traces.

Surfaces’ nanostructureis at the core of their super-amphiphobic abilities. Work has already been done successfully on surface structures that allow the filtering of gases such as CO2 from liquids, important findings that are applicable to the efficiency of life-saving heart and lung machines   ̶   the physicists are now working towards expanding this principle to new applications. "The ERC grant allows us to tackle several fundamental physical problems which currently limit applications,” says Professor Butt. "We physicists may know the detailed structure of nuclear particles, but we are still far away from understanding how a simple liquid wets a nanostructured surface.”

Predicting materials’ behaviour

Fellow MPI-P director Professor Kurt Kremer and his ‘Polymer Theory’ team have been awarded 2 million EUR in ERC funding to support their research in soft condensed matter physics, i.e. organic materials that cannot always be clearly defined as solid or liquid. Through computer-based simulations and modelling calculations, Kremer’s group is able to predict materials’ behaviour and their properties. The big challenge lies in accurately predicting dynamic processes in a non-equilibrium state, for example in crystallisation processes.

In turn, these results enable specific prediction of the properties of new materials and proposal of manufacturing processes. The ERC funding will support the team’s longer-term objective; to develop an integrated simulation tool that should enable statements to be made on a large scale from chemical building blocks to the behaviour of whole macromolecular systems in non-equilibrium states.

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