As part of the Joint Lab for Polymers Jena-Bayreuth, the research groups involved are working on more than 100 scientific projects to address current global challenges. Polymers serve as a way to solve these challenges. A selection of research projects is presented below. For additional information, please contact us at any time.
SFB 1278: Polymer-based nanoparticle libraries for targeted anti-inflammatory strategies (PolyTarget)
The Collaborative Research Center PolyTarget is developing polymer-based, nanoparticulate carrier materials for the targeted application of active pharmaceutical ingredients. In the foreground are systems that are suitable for the treatment of diseases and syndromes whose morbidity is significantly characterized by an inflammatory reaction.
CataLight is a transregional collaborative research center, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), hosted by the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and Ulm University. CataLight’s project partners are at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research Mainz, the University of Vienna, the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (IPHT), the Technical University Kaiserslautern-Landau, the Argonne National Lab Chicago, and the Ohio State University. CataLight explore catalytic units with hierarchically structured soft matter matrices to convert solar radiation into chemical reactivity.
SFB 1357: MICROPLASTICS – Understanding the mechanisms and processes of biological effects, transport and formation: From model to complex systems as a basis for new solutions
The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1357: “Microplastics – Understanding the mechanisms and processes of biological effects, transport and formation: From model to complex systems as a basis for new solutions” investigates the formation, migration and effects of microplastics and develops new approaches to solving this immense environmental problem.
SFB 1585: Structured functional materials for multiple transport in nanoscale confinements (MultiTrans)
“MultiTrans” (is based on the observation that the structuring of materials on the nanometre scale has a decisive influence on how electrons, ions, molecules and heat travel within them. Initially, the research will focus on these four important carrier types, which flow simultaneously but not necessarily in the same direction. Nanostructuring generates a variety of interactions between the carrier flows, the materials, and the involved interfaces. Such interactions, which have by far not been understood, are the focus of the CRC.
Our major research question is: How do local geology and surface land-use affect the diversity and function of the subsurface Critical Zone (CZ)?
To answer this, we use a range of tools to determine what biota live in the subsurface, how they interact with their environment, and influence biogeochemical fluxes. Our ultimate goal is to understand how land-use and climate change impact the CZ and the services, such as clean water, it provides to people. We have constructed a novel infrastructure platform, the Hainich Critical Zone Exploratory
(CZE), to study how water and gas fluxes link surface vegetation and soils under different land management to shallow aquifer complexes in a carbonate rock landscape. Our interdisciplinary team applies new tools from the fields of biology, chemistry, geology, and informatics to document the state and function of the subsurface: who is there, what they are doing, and how does it matter. After initial years of funding, CRC AquaDiva is well on its way to our long-term vision of being the premier international subsurface biodiversity platform.
Content of the SFB/TRR 225 is the exploration of the fundamentals of biofabrication and its systematic exploitation with the aim and vision to generate functional human tissue models (12-year perspective).
Biofabrication is defined as the use of automated 3D printing processes to produce hierarchical cell-material constructs in a spatial arrangement that allows maturation into tissue models with functional properties. This holds the possibility of automated production of functional tissue models that would be invaluable as animal test replacements, for pharmaceutical and cancer research, and as regenerative therapy options.
GRK 2818: Optical excitations in organic and inorganic semiconductors: Understanding and control through external stimuli
Semiconductor materials are undoubtedly the cornerstone of modern electronics and of central importance for sustainable economic growth. In order to meet the technical requirements of modern electronics, the computer chip industry has advanced the structuring of traditional, inorganic semiconductors to ever smaller length scales, so that by now the expansion of an excited state in the semiconductor is limited by its nanostructure. This changes the laws governing such photoexcitations. Conversely, it is now possible to arrange molecules selectively in supramolecular architectures and to control the order in molecular semiconductor films so that photoexcitations normally confined to one molecule spread coherently over several molecules. As a
result of these developments, researchers studying nanostructured inorganic semiconductors and researchers devoted to organic semiconductor materials often address similar questions, but without benefiting from each other’s insights. On the contrary, due to lack of communication, significant misunderstandings often occur. This is a scientific problem that the IRTG aims to address both in its research and in its qualification program.
The research unit FOR 5301 is dedicated to the design, synthesis and detailed characterization of self-healing materials for flexible energy storage and conversion ( e.g., supercapacitors, polymer-based batteries and solar cells). With this, FOR goes far beyond the status of “classic” self-healing materials. The focus here is no longer just on restoring polymer coatings after mechanical damage (healing of cracks). Instead, functions and properties in complex material systems are to be cured, e.g. optical properties of conjugated polymers or conductivity in electrodes or electrolytes.
Organic materials, in particular organic polymers, which are utilised as active materials in batteries, are currently an intensively investigated research topic. The utilisation of these materials represents an auspicious approach considering:
- Sustainability (e.g., lower temperatures required for the fabrication, no (less) toxic elements / substances used, no heavy metals),
- Processability (e.g., printable batteries) as well as
- Battery performance (e.g., power density).
The SPP aims at the elucidation of structure-property-relationships, the design and synthesis of novel active materials, which will result in polymer-based batteries with preferably high capacities and longer lifetime over many cycles.
Plastics have become indispensable in numerous areas of application. However, since they can only be partially recycled and microplastics are a ubiquitous problem, they are increasingly being criticized. In this context, intelligent plastics offer an alternative. Vitrimers are a new class of intelligent polymer materials that show outstanding properties. They exhibit self-healing, can be recycled and show improved processability. As possible materials of the future, these polymer networks are to be examined within the research project from synthesis, characterization and understanding of the mechanism to their environmental influences.
The subject of the project is multi-responsive interfaces whose properties can be switched by combining different stimuli on different time scales. The focus is on the coupling of optical excitation and electrical, mechanical or chemical secondary effects with the aim of reversibly manipulating interface potentials, electrical and electronic states, polarity or morphology. In particular, the stimulation by light should enable fast and ultra-fast, spatially resolved or areal switching processes that can be modulated by slower chemical interactions or static fields. In this way, multi-level logical operations should be possible in programmable material architectures, with the help of which excitation signals can be forwarded and translated into response effects. Supported by computer-assisted processes, essential material-chemical and material breakthroughs are to be achieved, especially in the areas of switchable membranes, biophotonics, switchable contact and binding agents, adaptive microbial habitats and switchable nanophotonic surfaces.
The development of advanced storage technologies to enable the integration of sustainable energy sources in the electric grid represents a major challenge for our society. In the last years, lithium-ion batteries attracted great attention and became the most known and widespread battery system in our society. However, since they contain toxic and/or scarce metals, e.g., cobalt and nickel, as well as flammable
solvents, the development of more environmentally friendly and safer battery technologies represents a priority. Additionally, this technology is limited when flexibility, low cost, or even higher energy density are important. POLYSTORAGE will tackle these limitations by developing highly innovative polymer electrolytes and polymer active materials for advanced post-lithium batteries.
Synthetic polymers have become an indispensable part in our daily life. Besides the indisputable benefits of plastic materials, major concerns arise about plastic leakage to the environment. Small plastic particles so-called microplastics (MP) have been detected ubiquitously in various ecosystems around the globe where they are bioavailable for a broad range of organisms may negatively affect ecosystems and consequently society and economy.
While there is political motivation to solve the MP issue most activities focus on marine environments. However, emerging research demonstrates that freshwater ecosystems are highly affected by MP pollution and are a major MP pathway to the oceans.
The LimnoPlast project addresses this issue by devoting its research and training program to MP in Europe’s freshwater ecosystems. LimnoPlast challenges traditional barriers between disciplines and sectors and combines environmental, technical and social sciences in order to tackle the MP problem from its sources to potential solutions in a holistic approach.
Logic Lab (Molecular logic lab-on-a-vesicle for intracellular diagnostics) builds a multi-faceted and multi-sectoral research network with the aim to establish a novel type of molecular logic sensors that reliably operate in biological media – a crucial requirement for their application as rapid and easy-to-handle tools for intracellular diagnostics. With excellent cross-disciplinary scientific and complementary training, we will educate highly-skilled young scientists in the fields of chemistry, physics and biology.
In FutureBAT, restrictions of current battery systems should be reduced and ideally eliminated. In concrete terms, the team wants to improve the energy density, temperature window, efficiency and service life of the redox-flow batteries and at the same time be able to offer it in a more sustainable and cheaper way. This is to be made possible by the development of novel organic active materials. The Schubert group wants to look for new molecules and combine them with the improvement of current polymer materials at the molecular level. As a result, new properties become possible, e.g., new photo-rechargeable batteries or RFB which contain all charged species in a single tank.
The supply of clean water is one of the greatest social challenges of the future – globally as well as in Germany. In order to avoid water scarcity and the associated potential for social conflict, new alliances are needed between research, business, the public sector and civil society. Technological innovations such as new methods of water treatment or smart water monitoring are just as much in demand as social innovations, e.g., new water usage regimes or assessment methods.
The Thüringer Wasser-Innovationscluster (ThWIC) has set itself the goal, together with partners from the Friedrich Schiller University and the Fraunhofer as well as the Ernst Abbe University Jena and more than 20 other partners from research, business, public sector and civil society to develop the water management of the future.
In this interdisciplinary project the basics of digitalization will be brought to students and PhD candidates from different faculties. Besides the theoretical background the main focus lies on the practical application (usage of machine learning, image recognition, robotics etc.). In hands-on courses the students carry out individual projects on relevant topics.
Compared to RNA-based vaccines, new compositions of the drugs are needed to deliver the new medications to the disease site in a targeted manner. To do this, the RNA will be packaged in innovative solid-lipid nanoparticles with polymer excipients. The nanoparticles should stably encapsulate the RNA drugs and deliver them to specific organs that were previously difficult to reach, where they are released after cellular uptake. The goal is a tissue-specific effect. And finally, the special lipids should ideally be such that they can be completely degraded or excreted by the body after release of the RNA.
InlineCon: Development of a suitable resin and prepreg system for the automated fiber placement process with in-situ consolidation
Here we focus on the research on storage stable and fast UV/thermal dual curable resin systems to reduce or even eliminate the need of autoclave process via consolidation “on the fly” with AFP. Here the long pot lifes of latent epoxy curing agents with “infinite” pot life of UV systems is combined. Curing is enabled while compaction via the UV component.
IPHealing aims to explore new self-healing coatings that can be produced using bio-based monomers (i.e., itaconic acid and its esters). Itaconic acid and its esters can thus be viewed as alternatives for petroleum-based systems (e.g., styrene-acrylate copolymers, acrylate resins). In this way, materials can be evaluated for use in different application scenarios. These include the use of the new materials as coating systems.
Polymedic – Development of novel, open-cell, polyactide based foams as wound dressings for chronic wounds
The project deals with the development of an open celled foam from a novel degradable block copolymer with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects in chronic wounds, combining both exudate management and bioactivity.
In this project new teaching concepts with augmented reality are tested and evaluated for lectures and practical courses. Thereby the students can have a different learning experience with more vividness to easier gain a deeper understanding of complex correlations.
SOUMI – Development of a bio-based prepreg material
In this project, an automated manufacturing process with integrated quality assurance is being developed using the example of a snowboard, which makes it possible to process newly developed bio-based materials. Consequently, shorter cycle times and a reduction of CO2 emissions can be achieved.
Konkav – Eco-efficient resin and natural fiber systems
The KONKAV project makes a significant contribution to future, environmentally friendly aviation by reducing the ecological footprint of cabin components due to the use of renewable materials. Therefore, eco-efficient prepreg systems are to be developed, which are intended to replace the phenolic resin/glass fiber prepregs previously used in aviation interiors.
Ecoprepreg: Principles of the structure-property relationships of epoxy resins and fibers from renewable raw materials for the secondary structures of aircraft
This project focusses on the structure-property relationship between bio-based epoxy resin systems, bio-based flame retardants and natural fibers for secondary aircraft structures aiming to save resources and decreasing the carbon footprint. Novel materials and material combinations are investigated (i.e., flax fiber prepregs, epoxidized vegetable oils, natural flame retardants).
DeKarbon – Selective deposition and chemical conversion of carbon dioxide on nanostructured polymer materials
In our new project “DeKarbon”, we will investigate new polymeric hybrid materials to selectively capture and convert CO2 from flue gas or air.