Renewable Resources and Biomaterials
As far as the aspect of sustainability is concerned, renewable raw materials play a key role in polymer technology. The use of recoverable raw materials is especially efficient if benefits in synthesis provided by nature are fully exploited, i.e. if only few physical, chemical or biotechnological modification steps are necessary to obtain industrially utilizable materials and products. Research topics at the institute are e.g. the synthesis of reactive carbohydrate derivatives, usable as components for water-borne UV-curable resins , and the synthesis of so-called glycopolymers from saccharide-based (glucose, sucrose, glucamine..) monomers. Application of poly-functional carbohydrate monomers or addition of commercially available cross-linkers yields hydrophilic cross-linked polymers , which are tested as polymer supports in e.g. biomedicine. Apart from polymer synthesis, amphiphilic compounds are accessible by combination of low-molecular hydrophilic carbo-hydrates and hydrophobic silicone-based or long-chain aliphatic molecules. Printability and wettability of polypropylene can be significantly improved by photochemical immobilization of carbohydrates on the polymer surface. Increased hydrophilicity of silicone rubbers is achieved by covalent bonding of allyl glycosides. Other main fields of research are the functionalization of polysaccharides such as cellulose and starch and we are also engaged in the modification of wood.