Mathematics and particle technology collaborate on nanoparticle design

Electron microscopic images of a collection of magic number colloidal clusters.
A new SFB deals with the design of nanoparticles. The scale bar of the electron microscope image corresponds to 2 micrometers. (Image: FAU/Junwei Wang)

Over 30 million euros for one new and two extended DFG Collaborative Research Centres

Excellent news for FAU: The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved a new Collaborative Research Centre for the University to start in January 2020. The CRC will be coordinated by FAU and its researchers are set to receive around 11 million euros in funding for nanoparticle design. The research team are planning a novel approach by developing models to design and optimise the nanoparticles before they are produced in the laboratory, a technique that has been made possible by close collaboration between mathematics and particle technology. Two further CRCs which FAU is already participating in have been extended and the University will receive a further 19.8 million euros in funding for this research.

CRC 1411 ‘Design of Particulate Products’ will focus on optimising nanoparticle design by combining particle synthesis with novel separation methods for classifying nanoparticles. The key feature of this approach is that production is optimised in such a way that particles with engineered properties can be produced in continuous processes. These elegant approaches to property and process design replace current methods that are often highly complex and based on experiments. Thanks to this innovation, the new CRC will make important contributions to the digitalisation of the product design of particle systems. In 20 individual projects, researchers from the fields of chemical engineering, materials sciences, mathematics and physics will design, produce and characterise new nanoparticles. Designing particles with special optical properties is a central aspect of this research.

‘For the new Collaborative Research Centre, we can build on the strong scientific foundation and first-class infrastructure of the Cluster of Excellence Engineering of Advanced Materials,’ explains Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Peukert, Chair of Particle Technology and Speaker of the CRC. From the 20 individual projects, 18 are based at FAU, one is at the Helmholtz Institute for Renewable Energies Erlangen-Nürnberg (HI ERN) and one at the University of Duisburg-Essen, which is led by a former FAU researcher. Within the framework of the CRC, a research training group will be set up for doctoral research in nanoparticle design – a world first for FAU. The CRC will also break new ground in dealing with the large amounts of data generated in the experiments and simulations.

High-performance carbon materials

The DFG has also approved the extension of CRC 953 ‘Synthetic Carbon Allotropes’ – the research team led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch, Chair of Organic Chemistry II, will receive a further 14.5 million euros until 2023. Carbon occurs in a variety of forms which have many different properties. These forms are known as carbon allotropes and gain their different properties from chemical bonds between the carbon atoms. Synthetic carbon allotropes such as carbon nanotubes and graphene are currently among the most promising material classes and have enormous potential for high-performance applications. At the same time, they are ideal model systems for investigating a number of fundamental chemical and physical aspects.

Superalloys for turbine blades

Research at CRC/Transregio 103 ‘From Atom to Turbine Blade – Scientific Foundations for a New Generation of Single-Crystal Superalloys’ has also been granted an extension until 2023. FAU will receive an additional 5.3 million euros for its participation in this CRC. The FAU researchers are coordinated by Prof. Dr. Carolin Körner, Chair of Materials Science and Technology of Metals. Monocrystalline superalloys are key materials for turbine blades in modern gas turbines for aviation and energy supply. They are indispensable for modern society when it comes to mobility and sustainable electrical energy, regardless of whether electrical energy is generated by fossil fuels or solar energy. Higher efficiencies with greater sustainability in gas turbines can only be achieved with new monocrystalline technology.

Further information

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Peukert
Phone: +49131 8529400

Prof. Dr. Andreas Hirsch
Phone: +49 9131 8565581

Prof. Dr. Carolin Körner
Phone: +49 9131 8527528