For this purpose, new 3D-functional materials as well as complex printed multi-material 3D-systems, which combine a selection of electronic, fluidic and biological functions, are realized. The three-dimensional nano- or microstructures are preferably to be achieved by means of printing technologies or other methods of additive fabrication. In coordinated projects the synthesis, deposition and structuring technologies as well as the function in the application are to be closely linked. Conventional processing techniques and newly developed 3D-printing techniques are used to produce even complex functional elements.
The following research areas are addressed:
1. Tailor-made organic and hybride 3D-materials and -structures
Preliminary work in the field of organic electronics has shown the critical importance of the internal three-dimensional structure of the materials: The control of the nanomorphology of bulk heterojunctions in organic solar cells is the key to high efficiencies. Similarly, in the case of organic field effect transistors, the structure of the materials at the internal interfaces and in the case of organic light-emitting diodes the separation in guest-host-systems plays a pivotal role for the component properties. In this research field, the control of the composition of complex functional materials on the nanometer scale is to be systematically advanced by means of novel approaches to material synthesis and processing technology. At both sites, new organic macromolecules, molecular semiconductors (heteroacenes, etc.) and inorganic nanoparticles are to be investigated intensively and additionally, thus enabling access to new functionalities in the combination.
A particularly elegant path towards newly designed materials is provided by self-organized organic and hybrid-organic molecular frameworks. The majority of the more than 20,000 identified volume compounds, which are highly porous, have not yet been investigated; Recent work shows a huge potential for this new material class. The scientific work in this research field provides not only the basis for more efficient components of printable optoelectronics (solar cells and light-emitting diodes) and electronics (field effect transistors), but it could also be used in areas of energy engineering (gas separation, solar-powered photocatalytic production of chemical energy carriers, energy storage) and sensor technology.
2. Coupling of electronic and biological functions ("BioElectronics")
3D-BioElectronics is to make accessible new applications in diagnostics and therapy through new structures of electronic systems in perspective. The understanding of the interaction of technical surfaces of the components with body fluids, tissues and cells plays a pivotal role. Novel, even in 3D-printable materials allow unprecedented access to biocompatible and implantable devices. Biocompatible and -degradable electronic systems are developed specifically for novel in vivo diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Such systems can be realized with organic semiconductors, since water-soluble and biologically active representatives can be produced relatively simply by synthetic variation. Their properties, combined with microfluidic systems, are likely to be high-potential sensors for the early detection of imbalances in biological fluids. These imbalances can also be used for trace analysis in complex systems as well as for the detection of specific analytes. In such three-dimensional microfluidic systems, which are improved by water-soluble or also two-phase organic semiconductor/ receptor elements, very small amounts of analytes can be investigated in minimal volumes. The applications for such a new sensor platform are to be investigated, and so far hardly explored, both in the analysis of environmental toxins (heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticide residues, etc.) and biologically functionally relevant compounds (proteins, antibodies, etc.).
3. Printed 3D-circuits