Structure and Dynamics of Macromolecular Materials
The fast developments in the synthetic chemistry during the last decades have made possible the preparation of a large variety of macromolecules with controlled topology and functionality. For example, new classes of copolymers with complex architectures such as stars or bottle brushes have become available but their properties are still largely unexplored. A principal focus of our work is understanding the relation between molecular architecture, composition and processing on one hand and the morphology and thermo mechanical properties of the macromolecular materials on the other. Such understanding is not only of fundamental interest but will also help to predict the properties and design new materials for specific applications. In this endeavor we employ both classical experimental methods (e.g. mechanical and dielectric spectroscopy, tensile tests, X-ray scattering) and modern optical techniques. In particular we apply Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS), Resonance Enhanced Evanescent Light Scattering (REDLS) and Confocal Microscopy to study structure and dynamics in polymer solutions, cross-linked networks and thin polymer films as well as to investigate the size, conformational changes and aggregation behavior of macromolecules in solutions and in living cells.
In addition we investigate soft matter under hard confinement. Nanoporous hard templates provide a two-dimensionally confined space in which self-organization processes such as crystallization, protein secondary structure formation, mesophase formation and phase separation can be manipulated giving rise to unprecedented morphologies with new physical properties.