The scope of Topic 2 covers the discovery and exploration of new functionalities based on interface-dominated effects, the development of fabrication processes and applications such as sensors, actuators, catalysts and electronic devices.
Functionality by design
The unique properties of nanomaterials are a consequence of the modified or even entirely new structural components and new mechanisms, which can occur at such very small size. Scaling and disruptive size effects on properties come into play as the surface- or interface-to-volume ratio increases dramatically. We synthesize and investigate a broad variety of metallic and non-metallic materials from thin films, micro- and nanolattice constructions and topologically graded surfaces to bulk nanostructured materials with built-in macro-architecture. The concept is to (i) tailor the nano- and microstructure so as to optimize desirable mechanical, magnetic and other properties and (ii) to create tunable materials with properties, which respond reversibly to external stimuli like electric fields or light.
Nanomaterials are already used in many industrial catalytic processes, however the ability to rationally design nanocatalysts could lead to improved efficiency or enable new processes. A current bottleneck is to transfer fundamental understanding of the properties of individual, well-defined nanoparticles to a catalytically active system. Our aim is to achieve an improved understanding by characterization and modeling across all essential length scales from size-selected clusters to well-characterized powder samples. Specifically, we focus on synthesis gas formation and carbon nanotube production from methane or higher hydrocarbons, and the direct synthesis of hydrogen peroxide.
Printed materials and systems
In the last decade the field of printed materials has seen a tremendous increase of research activities worldwide, driven by the predictions of an enormous market potential for industries as diverse as consumer goods, healthcare, aerospace, electronics, media, energy and transportation. Our aim is to develop novel concepts for printed systems and to generate a capability tool box for the creation of laterally structured printed devices (e.g. FET), and large-area printed devices, (e.g. solar cells). This holistic approach includes the development of printing materials, technologies and system integration.