Research Areas


Novel Processing

Novel Processing Routes for Biofunctional Ceramics

Shaping and microstructural design of advanced ceramics for environmental, biotechnological and energy applications is challenging and requires in-depth knowledge of all processing steps ranging from colloidal preparation to mass conditioning, shaping, drying, sintering and post-processing. Specific microstructural design of the surface or bulk, e.g. by introducing well-defined pore sizes, pore morphologies and porosities are three of our key interests. Furthermore, the directed functionalization of the ceramic surface by wet-chemical silanization and biofunctionalization with e.g. proteins and enzymes are in the center of our focus.



Functionalization and Assembly of Ceramic Nanoparticles

Nanoparticle research has brought forth a multitude of exciting functional materials that can be tailored for specific applications. Combining several nanoparticles to sophisticated superstructures allows the design of multifunctional engineering materials with enhanced and synergistic properties that enable potential applications in drug delivery, encapsulation of active agents, photonics, chemical sensing, energy storage, gas adsorption or catalysis. Research on supraparticles is propelled by fundamental insights on self-assembly and the organization of matter at the mesoscale which relates to the interactions of nanoparticles, polymers, biological macromolecules and other colloids in diverse fluid media. In this context, we explore new strategies to combine nanoparticles and other colloids that feature specific functional properties into complex multifunctional supraparticles, such as colloidal capsules, patchy particles or nanoscale Janus particles. Furthermore, biomineralization processes serve as an important source of inspiration for our colloidal assembly strategies. In the process of synthesizing multifunctional particles, the properties of the nanoscale building blocks have to be closely scrutinized and adjusted, as well. Accordingly, research on colloidal assembly of multifunctional nanoparticles relies to a significant part on research on the nanoparticle building blocks themselves.



Advanced Ceramic Composites

Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMC) with fiber reinforcement or other composite materials as layered structures with stiff and weak components provide an exemplary way to increase the fracture toughness of engineering ceramics, while other superior properties of ceramic structures are retained. The behavior of these composites is strongly dependent on the components used. A smart combination of reinforcement, interface and matrix materials leads to sophisticated composites achieving highest performances especially in severe environmental conditions. This enables the designing engineer to adjust the composite properties specifically to various application requirements and mechanical load conditions. Beside oxidation and corrosion resistance, the mechanical properties of the composites as e.g. fracture toughness and damage tolerance are of major interest. Thus, the mechanisms being responsible for the damage tolerant behavior have to be adjusted to achieve crack deflection and high energy dissipation in general. In the case of ceramic fibre reinforced ceramic matrix composites, whether short- or long-fibers reinforced, the interface or the matrix has to meet this challenge. The development of layered structures with stiff and weak layers follows a bionic approach whereby the resulting composites with high volume fraction of ceramic feature an impressive combination of stiffness, strength, and toughness.



Precursor derived Ceramics and Ceramers

The conversion of polymeric precursors under an atmosphere of inert gas at moderate temperatures is a versatile processing route for non-oxidic ceramic materials such as SiC, Si3N4 or SiOC as compared to the much more energy consuming conventional sintering of SiC or Si3N4 powders. Generally the starting materials are inexpensive and can easily be processed using well-established shaping methods used for the processing of polymers. By varying the precursor composition or the temperature regime of pyrolysis or by addition of filler particles hybrid materials and advanced ceramics with interesting properties can be obtained. Porous or dense microstructures, high temperature, oxidation and chemical resistance or magnetic and electron conducting behavior can be provided and engineered for different applications.