The sustainable use of renewable materials is the main objective of the biopolymer research at the Fraunhofer IAP. Natural polymers, such as cellulose, starch or lignin, as well as biobased plastics, such as polylactide, can be processed into fibers, nonwovens, films, molded paddings and fiber-reinforced composites. In addition to developing products made from natural polymers, we focus on synthesizing new biobased plastics. Since 2013, we have had stabilization and carbonization technologies for carbon fiber development at our disposal. In addition, biopolymers can be chemically, enzymatically or physically modified in order to optimize existing applications or to open up new application possibilities.
Polymers with special physical and chemical properties are increasingly being used as functional materials in high-tech applications. Our spectrum ranges from materials and technologies for organic electronic elements, to sensors, actuators, optical components and chromogenic polymers. Quantum dots open up new opportunities to develop the technology of OLEDs and organic photovoltaics, as well as diagnostics that employ photonic methods. Functionalized surfaces are another focus of this research division.
The Synthesis and Polymer Technology research division specializes in the synthesis of novel polymer structures and the development and optimization of polymerization processes. Focus is on fossil-based and renewable-based heterochain polymers. Our research spectrum also includes the microencapsulation of active substances and additives, as well as particle applications. Other areas of R&D include function integrated polymer films and shape-memory polymers.
In the Life Science und Bioprocesses research division, biotechnology, nanotechnology and interface chemistry are combined with traditional polymer research to develop new functional biosystems, colloidal structures and bio-hybrid materials. Focus is also on the manufacture and production of biobased building blocks using fermentation processes and bio-catalytic conversions. Research and development also concentrate on “intelligent” polymer systems, biomaterials, hydrogels, implants and new materials and products for the pharmaceutical, medical and cosmetic industries.
At the Fraunhofer PAZ in Schkopau, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Applied Polymer Research IAP and for Microstructures of Materials and Systems IMWS combine their expertises in polymer and process development and in plastic processing. Flexible, state-of-the-art pilot plants enable the latest research findings to be transferred to scales needed for production and for sample quantities up to ton scale. New products and innovative technologies can be developed along the entire value chain – from monomers, polymer synthesis and polymer processing, to testing made-to-measure components.
The Polymeric Materials and Composites PYCO research division develops and conducts research into materials made from cross-linked plastics and composites made from multiple interconnected materials. These are primarily fiber-plastic composites. The fibers, particularly carbon, glass or natural fibers – are used in technical textiles such as woven, knitted, crocheted, non-woven and felt fabrics. These are embedded in a resin matrix in special geometric shapes that are used in later applications. This results in excellent material properties that have a comparatively low weight.
The main expertise lies in the production and characterization of materials in the form of inorganic nanoparticles and nanocomposites. Established particle systems include fluorescent, magnetic, electrically and thermally conductive, radiopaque, electrocatalytically active, metallic and ceramic nanoparticles.