Polymers for Energy and Technology
Modern technologies in the 21st century pose new challenges for research and development, not at least with regard to efficiency, sustainability, and climate neutrality. For this, existing technologies have to be re-thought or new scientific effects have to be made that are applicable for the market.
Our institute addresses these challenges in order to research the foundations for various future technologies. The research groups around Paul Blom, Hans-Jürgen Butt, and Kurt Kremer are working on the theoretical as well as experimental investigation of novel solar cells made of the special perovskite crystal structure, and also of organic materials. These promise to be a cheaper and more efficient alternative to conventional silicon solar cells, and could thus be an important factor in efforts to switch over to renewable energies.
A completely different method for generating tiny amounts of energy could result from the newly approved ERC project "DynaMo" led by Hans-Jürgen Butt. The project is aimed at investigating how droplets slide over surfaces, leaving a trail of charges behind them ─ an effect that was previously quite unknown and even now is only partially understood. This could make it possible, for example, to operate small, power-saving sensors in remote regions where no other energy source is available.
However, generated energy also has to be stored efficiently. Mischa Bonn's research group is thus investigating the processes inside fuel cells more closely. After all, the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen is not yet completely understood in detail. A better understanding of molecular processes could help, for example, with the design of new electrode surfaces.
Importantly, generated or stored energy furthermore has to be used in a resource-saving manner to be aligned with sustainability objectives. Relevant research is being conducted in the working groups of Paul Blom and Kurt Kremer on more efficient, longer-lasting materials for organic light-emitting diodes that are easier to process.
These are only a few selected examples that are being researched in the field of "Energy and Technology" at our institute. You can find more in our newsroom or in current scientific publications.