Synthesis and Polymer Technology

Monomer from the complex structure

The research division Synthesis and Polymer Technology is specialized in the synthesis of novel polymer structures as well as the development and optimization of polymerization processes.  Microencapsulation of active ingredients and additives also belongs to the divisions research spectrum as particle applications. Further R&D directions include function integrated polymer films and shape-memory polymers.

Our services

  • material development (product development) based on synthetic and biobased polymers
  • development of polymerization processes
  • microencapsulation, particle synthesis and particle applications
  • characterization of particles and polymers
  • development and synthesis of membrane polymers
  • development of polymeric membranes
  • processing solutions for merchantable and new biobased plastics



Our research topics

  • microencapsulation of additives and active ingredients
  • functional nanoparticle systems
  • development and optimizing of polymer synthesis methods
  • polymers on basis renewable resources
  • membrane polymers
  • composite membranes
  • mixed-matrix membrane
  • bioplastics manufacturing


Microencapsulation of additives and active substances

For many years, the microencapsulation technology has been used to develop active ingredients and additives for diverse applications. We have long-standing expertise in the field of microencapsulation and adaption of the different capsule technology and/or the capsule wall material. Thus, we can meet the requirements for storage, formulation and application of microcapsules. A current focus of our research work lies on synthesis and processing of microcapsules in plastics melts.


Functional nanoparticle systems

We use latex syntheses based on emulsion and dispersion polymerization processes for the production of particles systems with customized particle size and distribution, particle morphology, functionality and reactivity. The application-oriented design possibility of polymeric nano- and microparticles opens an innovative field of work for new particle applications from active substance carriers to anti-grafitti coating for preservation of historical monuments.    


Development and optimization of polymer synthesis methods

We develop innovative synthesis methods and technologies for production of new polymers with new improved properties and create conditions for implementing these processes in a production environment. We analyze and optimize technical polymer synthesis processes by using reaction- and process analytic methods. Also, we perform process developments starting from laboratory up to mini-plant scale.


Polymers based on renewable resources

The synthesis of aliphatic polyesters based on lactic acid is one of the most advanced methods for utilizing biotechnologically produced raw materials. We have extensive competences in the synthesis and modification of polylactide (PLA). In particular, we aim on the expansion of the property profile of PLA by using technical processes adaptable for PLA synthesis routes. Currently, we are expanding and intensifying our R&D work on the area of biobased polyesters and polyamides, including other glucose-based constituents.        


Shape-memory polymers

Shape-memory polymers are functional materials, which offer significant potential for the opening up of new applications. In our team we carry out application-oriented synthesis and process developments. Another core competence is design and development of stimuli-responsive, multifunctional polymer materials.

Our equipment


Molecular and chemical characterization

  • organic size exclusion chromatography in DMF / LiBr with absolute molar mass determination (MALLS-detector and refractometer)
  • organic size exclusion chromatography in CH2Cl2 with absolute molar mass determination (MALLS- and UV-detector, refractometer, viscometer)
  • organic size exclusion chromatography in Hexafluoroisopropanol (HFIP) / CF3COONa with absolute molar mass determination (MALLS- and UV-detector, refractometer)
  • HPLC with Diode-Array-Detector
  • potentiometric titration (acid-base, chloride)
  • dn/dc-determination (aqueous/organic)


Physical characterization

  • polarimeter
  • conductometer
  • Abbe refractometer
  • UV-VIS-NIR spectrometer (190–1100 nm)
  • colour-measuring device
  • temperature gradient bar to determinate the film forming temperature (minimum/optimum)


Thermal analysis

  • dynamic scanning calorimeter (DSC) (–50–600 °C; heating rate: 0,01 – 100 K min-1; cooling rate: 0,01–50 K min-1)
  • thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) (25–1000 °C; heating rate: 0,01–100 K min-1)
  • moisture analyzer (30–230 °C)


Colloid chemical and rheological characterization

  • tensiometer for determining surface and interfacial tension (ring/plate) and contact angle measurements (liquids and solids)
  • particle electrophoresis for determination of mobility and zetapotential
  • particle charge detector for titration of surface charge density
  • automatic dilution viscometry to determinate intrinsic viscosities and Mark-Houwink-constants in combination with GPC-MALLS
  • rheometer with cone-plate, plate-plate geometry and torsion for measurements in rotation and oscillation mode; max. temperature: 600 °C


Methods for characterization of micro- and nanoparticles

  • dynamic light scattering (nanoparticles: 10–2500 nm)
  • laser diffractometer for dispersions (0,04–2000 µm) and powders (10–2000 µm)
  • lasentec© Focused Beam Reflectance for particles (1–1000 µm) in concentrated dispersions
  • research microscope with fluorescence (polarization, dark field, phase contrast), 200-times magnification
  • sieve analysis (dry and wet sieving, 25–5600 µm)


Polymer synthesis and processing / process analysis

  • pressure reactor systems (reactor sizes: 1 L to 40 L; max. pressure: 60 bar; max. temperature: 300 °C)
  • miniplant facility for PLA synthesis with lactic acid used as feedstock
  • comprehensively adaptive mini extruder for scale-up work (Brabender KEDSE 12/36 D)
  • kneader
  • thin film evaporator in miniplant scale
  • computer-aided automated reaction calorimeter (RC1) (1 L glass and pressure reactor)
  • computer-aided automated lab-scale reactor (LabMax)
  • high-pressure homogenizer (APV 2000)


Particle synthesis and modification / Microencapsulation

  • spray dryer Büchi B-190 (max. inlet temperature 220 °C, aqueous solutions and dispersions) and B-290 with solvent recovery (max. inlet temperature 220 °C, solutions and dispersions based on organic solvents)
  • glatt Powder Coater Granulator GPCG1
  • stirred reactor Reactron RT50 (Kinematica), heatable (double jacket), equipped with anchor stirrer, intensive mixer and dispersing machine (rotor-stator system)
  • ultra centrifugal mill Retsch ZM200 (6.000–18.000 min-1; material feed size: max. 10 mm;  final fineness: < 40 µm)


Membrane technology

  • automatic film applicator coater: Zehntner ZAA 2300 max. 300 x 400 mm, with applicators of 50–300 µm
  • membrane casting machine for flat sheet membranes with 40 cm width
  • porometer for membrane pore characterization; POROLUX™ 500 (IB-FT), pore sizes from 0.013 to 500 µm
  • stirred membrane cells for membrane characterization in water and organic liquids
  • primary flow meter for precise gas flow measurement
  • measurement equipment for measuring permeance, permeability as well as diffusion and solubility coefficients of gases

Bert Volkert

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Bert Volkert

Head of Department | Microencapsulation and polysaccharide chemistry

Fraunhofer IAP
Geiselbergstraße 69
14476 Potsdam-Golm

Phone +49 331 568-1516

Antje Lieske

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Antje Lieske

Head of department | Polymer Synthesis

Fraunhofer IAP
Geiselbergstraße 69
14476 Potsdam

Phone +49 331 568-1329

Murat Tutuş

Contact Press / Media

Dr.-Ing. Murat Tutuş

Head of department | Membranes and Functional Films

Fraunhofer IAP
Geiselbergstraße 69
14476 Potsdam

Phone +49 331 568-3211

Thorsten Pretsch

Contact Press / Media

Dr. Thorsten Pretsch

Head of group | Shape-Memory Polymers

Fraunhofer IAP
Geiselbergstraße 69
14476 Potsdam-Golm

Phone +49 331 568-1414