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Competences IAP - overview

Fraunhofer Nanotechnology Alliance
 

  Polymeric nanoparticles in medicine

Tissue, cells, blood cells - biological units provide numerous models for polymeric nanosystems. Synthetic polymers designed according to biological construction principles are therefore excellent carriers for active pharmaceutical ingredients (drug carriers). By providing these polymeric nanoparticles with specially tailored surfaces and structures, they can be directed to specific sites in the body (drug targeting). The particles are broken down in the body after a predetermined time period. As a result, they not only deliver the active ingredient to the right place but also release it at the prescribed time (controlled release).
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  Nanocomposites - new polymeric materials

To produce polymer-based nanocomposites, both non-reactive compounding processes and processes that integrate polymer matrix or nanoparticle formation (in situ processes) are employed. Non-reactive processes are typical for medium-sized compounders, whereas reactive processes are prefered by polymer manufacturers. Nanoscale polymer additives offer compounders even more opportunities for application-specific material adaptation than micron-sized fillers and reinforcing materials. But for polymer manufacturers, too, the in-situ processes for the production of nanocomposites are opening up new markets for high-quality materials.
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  From polymer colloids to photonic materials

Polymeric nano- or microparticles of uniform shape and size, such as are obtained by emulsion polymerization, can be organized into highly ordered, crystal-like structures. The properties of self-organized functional materials produced in this way are less determined by the actual material of the basic structural units than their size, mutual arrangement and surface functionality. The size of the structural units can be freely adjusted over the range 40 nm to 800 nm. If the structural units are of the same order of magnitude as the wavelength of light, then the light refraction on the lattice planes of the colloid crystals leads to marked color effects, such as are known in nature from opal or the structural colors of butterfly wings.
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  Light-modulating functional components for displays

Birefringent film components with light-modulating properties are key elements in display technology sensor technology or optical measuring technology. The main functions of these films are the production and conversion of polarized light and the production of (polarized) light of defined color by reflection, absorption and emission. At the Fraunhofer IAP, new liquid crystal, stable nanorods and nanodiscs are being developed, which form anisotropically structured aggregates by self-organization (bottom-up strategy). The aim is to produce ultrathin, light-modulating structured functional layers as key components for optical technologies. Additional optical functions can be implemented. Fluorescent chromophoric groups lead to emission of polarized light, while with chiral groups, it is possible to create helical layer architectures with selective light reflection. The work includes development of suitable syntheses, analysis of thermal properties, study of macroscopic orientation and microstructuring, and permanent fixing of the internal film structure.

  Block copolymer synthesis

Block copolymers are the basis for macroscopically homogeneous polymer alloys with a nanoscale sub-structure. They permit the property profiles of widely diverse construction and functional polymers to be synergistically combined. This is possible through covalent linking of the individual blocks, while different polymers are normally not compatible with each other and therefore separate at the macroscopic level. Through suitable polymer design and processing, diverse macro- and sub-structures are created, giving rise to new material properties. In solution, block copolymers form stable aggregates, whose size and shape can be similarly controlled. In this way, functional nanoparticles covering the entire size range from individual macromolecule to the wavelength of light are accessible. Amphiphilic block copolymers behave here as giant surfactants. These nanoparticles can also be used, for example, for drug delivery and controlled drug release in synthetic and natural systems.

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