Control of structure-property-relations of multi-functional polymer films for sensing, coatings, and energy materials

Functional polymer thin films, like stimuli-responsive polymer brushes, comb-like polymers or cross-linked polymer networks, are a group of smart surface coatings for the design of intelligent interfaces. One emphasis of our work is the synthesis of polymer brushes as a toolbox for the creation of specific surface functions and stimuli-responsive layers using a bottom-up approach. This implements at one hand the fundamental understanding of interfacial processes and dynamics with the aim to develop new triggers of responsiveness, and on the other hand, the transfer of the developed nanofilms into technical coatings processes and applications as, e.g., anti-fouling, anti-icing or bio-interactive , and bio-catalytic or sensoric  layers. The tailored synthesis of those films is complemented by thin film, interfacial and nanoanalysis, which includes in-situ investigation of swelling phenomena and interfacial adsorption.  We also use this concept to investigate polymeric building blocks for energy applications, e.g. electrolytes in polymer batteries.