Process-controlled structure formation in polymer materials

Prof. Dr. Udo Wagenknecht
Prof. Dr. Jens-Uwe Sommer

The close cooperation of scientists and engineers at the IPF provides excellent conditions for the development of functional polymer and multi-component materials as well as of their processing technologies. Innovations are created by a complex approach integrating aspects of materials science, natural sciences and process technology – from the molecule to the material in a complex component. They offer new solutions in power engineering, environmental technology, and light-weight construction and are applied, e.g., in mechanical and plant engineering, and automotive and aircraft industry.
A very efficient approach followed at the IPF is to utilize structure formation within the processing of polymer materials to get optimized, tailor-made materials properties. This is studied for reactive injection moulding of thermoplastics, reactive mixing of elastomers, electron-induced modification during processing, for chemically initiated dispersion strategies for polymer nanocomposites, and for structure formation, stabilization, and localization of nanofillers in multiphase polymer blends and polymer composites.
The scientific challenges are manifold. On the one hand they include development of novel technologies in process engineering via new materials concepts including multifunctional nanofillers. Simultaneously, appropriate methods of characterization, e.g. for determination of local structure and orientation, for analysis of topographically complex surfaces, and for characterization of internal interfaces, are developed as well as novel, adapted physical models describing, e.g.,  polymer-mediated filler interactions.