The technological challenges of our time require modern materials with tailored functional properties. Sustainable energy concepts of the future will be based on the CO2-neutral generation of electrical energy from unlimited resources (such as from sun or wind), on the efficient storage of electrical energy (e.g. in batteries or in the form of hydrogen) and, last but not least, on technical solutions for saving energy. In many of these concepts, chemistry plays a key role. The chemical synthesis of modern functional materials is an example.
The research group "Inorganic Functional Materials" deals with the development of nano- and microstructured solids for a variety of applications. For example, lithium-ion batteries require powerful electrodes, hydrogen fuel cells need efficient electrolyte membranes, and many processes require chemical sensors to be resource-conserving and effective. In this respect, nanomaterials play a special role, i.e. substances with structures on a size scale in the range of a few nanometers (millionths of a millimeter). Due to their nanostructure, such materials often have new properties in which they differ from substances of classical molecular or solid-state chemistry. This often results in completely new functions for the applications mentioned.
The research activities of the working group lie on the one hand in the synthesis of new nanostructured materials and on the other hand in the investigation of the special functions of these substances for different applications. These include, for example, nanoporous metal oxides and carbons. Such materials contain regular cavities and channels of a few nanometers in diameter and very large specific surface areas of many hundreds of square meters per gram. They have promising properties for use as electrodes in batteries or as ion-conducting membranes in fuel cells. Nanostructures with semiconducting properties are also particularly suitable for the fabrication of gas sensors. Likewise, porous substances are also important as catalysts for numerous processes.