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Our Research Mission and Vision
Bioinspired (Bio)Macromolecular Material Systems: We develop new hierarchical self-assembly concepts inside and outside equilibrium, and connect the arising structures and systems to soft functional materials research – often following bioinspired design principles. At the core of our investigations is the design and the synthesis of precision-engineered synthetic polymers, colloids, gels and DNA, into which we integrate supramolecular or light-switchable units to furnish highly defined, reactive, adaptive and functional building blocks.
Going across hierarchical length scales, we use these building blocks for innovative materials systems design, and focus on programming the space and the time domain of self-assembling systems and materials systems to create e.g. adaptive mechanical high-performance bioinspired nano-composites, or autonomous, self-erasing hydrogels with programmable lifecycles.
Complexity as a Driver for Materials Innovation: Our philosophy is to go beyond a quantitative understanding of structure formation processes in complex self-assembling systems. We aim for an analysis and exploitation of the resulting structures on a functional materials level to bridge the gap between fundamental research and first-time applications.
Life-Like Materials as Long-Term Goal:We want to leave the domain of classical switchable materials ("so-called smart materials") and our future efforts are increasingly directed towards fueled and feedback-controlled non-equilibrium systems to realize next-generation, adaptive, active and autonomously dynamic soft molecular material systems with the ultimate goal to achieve life-like properties. Such properties include self-regulation, adaptation, training, learning, communication, morphogenesis, and co-evolution.
Two Key Reviews and Viewpoint Articles + One Wiley Book:
Andreas Walther “From Responsive to Adaptive and Interactive Materials and Materials Systems: A Roadmap” Adv. Mater. 1905111, 2019 LINK
Invited View Point for a Special Issue on "Interactive Materials"
Merindol, R.; Walther, A. “Materials Learning from Life: Concepts for Active, Adaptive and Autonomous Molecular Systems” Chem. Soc. Rev. 46, 5588, 2017. LINK
Invited Review a special issue on “Chemical Systems Out of Equilibrium”.