Rathgeber Group

The Materials Physics Group is involved with developing and researching functional polymer materials. We attempt to answer questions about basic research as well as applied research and development, with a focus on functional, thermoplastic materials and the conventional process methods extrusion, injection molding and additive manufacturing. Our infrastructure allows for an integrative approach which encompasses polymer modification, compound design and material processing to the components as well as the physical characterization of the original material and the components.

Functional materials, in contrast to structural materials, do not have load-bearing properties, but can be used for other functions. Some examples are electrical conductivity in protection against explosions, thermal conductivity of electronic casings, insulation properties of packaging and antimicrobial effects for medical applications. Current approaches to finding appropriate materials are mainly based on conventional polymers that are functionalized to meet specific needs or have additives.

Most of the production processes are extremely rapid, meaning that non-equilibrium properties are usually frozen in, possibly leading to material fatigue, or to an undesirable change in properties over time.

Our research is geared to create new materials with defined functions and find a predictable correlation between their properties, their processing and long-term behavior of finished components.