09. August 2016
Interdisciplinary Center for Functional Particle Systems (FPS)
Professor Peukert, speaker of FPS in front of the building indicating the eight interdisciplinary fields of research.
Three years after the inauguration of its dedicated building, the Interdisciplinary Center for Functional Particle Systems (FPS) is already a very active part of FAU. Now its status as a facility of the university has been formalized in December 2015. In 1400 square meters of laboratory space including four chemistry labs and one technical hall, researchers from three faculties, the Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Medicine, are working together on fundamental and applied projects where particles stand at the central point. In particular, the Center, which was established from EAM Research Area A1 ‘Functional Particle Systems’, develops innovative methods for the generation, formulation, characterization and application of solid particles in addition to a wider spectrum of disperse systems including emulsions and foams. Such systems are used in nearly all branches of industry as intermediates or end products and thus their understanding and improvement through research programs is highly relevant. Moreover, functional particles, often having nanoscale dimensions, are expected to feature strongly in tackling global challenges through their use in solar cells or batteries, catalysts, medicines, 3D printing inks or composite materials. These applications usually demand that particles play multifunctional roles throughout system fabrication and operation, a challenging prospect. Successfully realizing this goal is thus a highly complex materials and processing problem where control over chemical composition, particle size and shape distribution, in addition to structural and surface stability must be maintained at all times.
To address this challenge, FPS researchers are focusing on eight interdisciplinary topics:
• Particle formation including bottom-up synthesis in the liquid phase as well as top down approaches like comminution, spraying, dispersion and emulsification.
• Molecular and particle interactions including stabilization, self-assembly, modification and functionalization of particle surfaces.
• All mechanisms of structure formation in hierarchical systems, such as oriented aggregation, nanostructured particle systems and layer formation.
• In-depth characterization along the process chain using various in situ techniques, nonlinear optical spectroscopy and ion mobility mass spectrometry.
• Handling, formulation and processing of particles and nanoparticles, e.g. crystallization, filtration, powder flow and safety.
• Applications in biology, chemistry, physics and technology.
• Particles in life sciences and toxicology.
• Modeling and optimization of particle and/or structure formation with a strong emphasis on product design.
In addition to conducting research on all aspects of functional particles and particle technology, FPS wants to become a highly visible institution with respect to science communication and internationalization. To increase visibility in science communication, a promotional video was created in close collaboration with Anna Donhauser (Institute of Physics Education) and introduced at POWTECH 2016, the world’s leading exhibition for processing, analysis and handling of powder and bulk solids. The video introduces research at FPS with short interviews, explanations and easy-to-understand graphics. From June 2016, the video can be downloaded from FAU’s video portal:
FPS has also been expanding with strong international activities. Funded within the framework of FAU’s campaign for internationalization, a delegation of FPS members, including Vice President Günter Leugering, will visit the University of Minnesota for a joint bilateral workshop in August 2016:
This aims to strengthen collaboration, exchange research on all levels and pave the way towards larger coordinated initiatives.
All of these aspects underline the numerous and visible activities at FAU related to the highly important, interdisciplinary topic of functional particle systems. We are convinced that there are excellent perspectives for research on FPS and we will have much to report on in the future.