Multifunctional Matter and Multiscale Systems
On the one hand, our world is becoming more complex and the problems more diverse. On the other hand, there are an infinite number of possible solutions, if one abandons one-dimensional ways of thinking and includes the diverse influences of different magnitudes of scaling. Starting from macroscopic dimensions via microscopic and nanoscale sizes down to the molecular and atomic range, different properties can be combined in one material or system. The core research area "Multifunctional Matter and Multiscale Systems" addresses this issue by finding solutions through interdisciplinary cooperative research projects. Hereby, research groups from the engineering sciences (mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, architecture), the natural sciences (physics, chemistry and biology), and mathematics are working together. Topics explored are – among others - resource-saving construction, sustainable mobility, medical technology, complex biological systems and information technologies. Fundamental research questions in nanoscience and at the molecular or atomic level are also investigated, in which the quantum nature of matter comes into play in dynamics and structure.
Nationally visible collaborations in this field are researching novel aluminium alloys (LOEWE research cluster ALLEGRO), specially synthesized molecules for the storage of quantum information (LOEWE research cluster SMolBits, national cooperative project DIQTOK), and new approaches for innovative construction and design. In basic research, the DFG Collaborative Research Center ELCH contributes to the understanding of the chirality of molecules and thus their functionality. In contrast, the DFG Research Training Group Multiscale Clocks investigates how different fast clocks at the cellular level control complex biological rhythms of the body. Internally funded, the research cluster "BiTWerk" and the collaborative projects "SMARTCON", "Digiwerk", and "Lebensdauer" advance research on molecular components and multifunctional materials.
The DFG Collaborative Research Center ELCH, which has been running since 2018, is dedicated to molecular chirality using the most advanced tools in experimental and theoretical atomic and molecular physics and quantum optics.
Biological processes are coordinated autonomously and precisely in time and space. In each unicellular or multicellular organism internal oscillators and clocks at multiple time scales interact with each other.
Aluminum and its alloys have been important engineering materials for decades. In order to fully exploit their potential as lightweight materials, the ALLEGRO project is concerned with the development of efficient processes for the shaping and heat treatment of wrought aluminum alloys.
The LOEWE priority SMolBits ("Scalable Molecular Quantum Bits"), which has been running since 2019, aims to develop a novel nanotechnology platform (photonic chip). Individual, specially synthesized molecules with tailored properties are to be used as information units (quantum bits) in order to realize a scalable quantum computer.
The cluster "Biological Transformation of Technical Materials" (BiTWerk), which is funded internally, bundles strands of activity around the topic of "materials science" in a highly interdisciplinary approach. These pursue the goal of rethinking materials and materials, always taking into account the aspect of sustainable use of the resources available to us.
The joint initiative Shape Memory Alloys Research for Technology of CONstructions "SMARTCON" focuses on the use of iron-based shape memory materials in the construction industry. These materials allow existing structures to be upgraded for further use and new structures to be made leaner, and thus more resource-efficient and durable. The interdisciplinary research approach at the interface between civil engineering and materials science will address entirely new materials and construction elements simultaneously and thus disruptively influence future structures.
The project "Textile Tectonics for Wood Construction", which is oriented towards the establishment of a research training group, explores sustainable paths towards wood-based materials with properties that can be evaluated safely and reliably. The aim is to realize and process fibers based on the renewable raw material wood that revolutionize the production of functional structures, e.g. via 3D strand-drawing processes. The project has a strong interdisciplinary focus, so that the approach can be considered holistically from raw material to component manufacture and recycling.
(Short) fiber-reinforced plastics enable durable and thus resource-efficient use in a wide range of applications. In order to be able to safely and reliably control the properties of this class of materials under complex application conditions, data must be meaningfully recorded and linked along the entire life cycle. In the long term, the "LIFETIME" joint initiative is the prerequisite for also integrating the large volume of short-fiber-reinforced plastics into the circular economy.
In the area of metallic materials, with a view to resource efficiency, it is necessary to implement closed material cycles directly in the product design process in the sense of concurrent engineering. The goal in the group is to create locally functionalized structures and cyber-physical twins based on solitary lightweight materials through the targeted exploitation of process-property relationships, which communicate with their environment via load-induced property changes.
In order to increase the currently limited use of bioplastics and biocomposites in durable products as well, the durability of these components must be improved. Various product segments are being investigated in collaboration with practical partners.
Ultralight design for aluminum structural components from the casting process to increase energy and resource efficiency
The research project aims to improve the life cycle assessment of metallic cast structures and components by producing ultra-lightweight components for the first time from a colder, already partially solidified melt (rheocasting process). To this end, the process is to be considered and evaluated holistically in terms of energy, design, process technology, materials and quality aspects using state-of-the-art digital and simulation methods.
The object of the joint project is the holistic consideration of innovative manufacturing technologies - from the manufacturing process to the end of component life. The aim is to guide manufacturing processes on the basis of models in such a way that components with the required structural integrity can be manufactured in a reproducible and economically robust manner. This lifecycle-oriented approach is intended to ensure the durability of the components and thus the sustainability of the processes. The additive manufacturing (AM) of metallic copper-based materials is considered as an example.