The development of products from natural raw materials such as wood, cotton, annual plants, or crab shells is the focus of the research activities of the department Lignocellulose. By chemical, physical or enzymatic modification of polysaccharides - in particular of cellulose and starch, but also hemicellulose, inulin, hyaluronic acid, chitin and chitosan - products can be produced in a wide range of applications. By systematic studies on the molecular and supramolecular structure, the novel polysaccharide derivatives are characterized and their structure-property relationships is determined.
Applications as diverse as structures
The natural polymers mentioned differ in their chemical and physical properties extraordinarily, resulting in a variety of applications. Thus, derivatives of polysaccharides are used in mass products such as building materials, detergents or paper as well as in form of highly refined specialty products. Special derivatives are also used e.g. in medicine, biotechnology and pharmaceutics as substrates for enzymes and drugs.
To set a custom functionality, we derivatize the polysaccharides with hydrophilic, hydrophobic, ionic and nonionic reagents. The syntheses are carried out under homogeneous and heterogeneous process conditions. Using esterification, etherification, oxidation, and graft polymerization on the polymer chains, the properties of the corresponding derivative is determined by the degree of substitution within the monomer unit and along the molecular chain.