The “Colloid Chemistry” department deals with the synthesis of various colloidal structures in the nanometre range. This includes inorganic and metallic nanoparticles, polymers and peptide structural units, their micelles and organised phases, as well as emulsions and foams. Colloid chemistry is able to create materials with a structural hierarchy through appropriate functionalised colloids. This creates new characteristics through the “teamwork” of the functional groups. With appropriate architecture, these colloids can fulfil very specialised tasks. Single molecular systems cannot do this, due to their lack of complexity. An example for this is skin: There is no synthetic material, which is as soft and simultaneously so tear-resistant and yet is mainly comprised of water. The secret of this also lies in the interaction between three components (collagen, hyaluronic acid, proteoglycan). This unusual combination of characteristics is only made possible by forming a superstructure “in a team“.
The emphasis of the research lies in the targeted coding of structure formation and self-organisation and the linked structural hierarchy. In addition to this synthesis, state-of-the-art analytical methods are also being developed for characterising the structures, e.g. light- and x-ray scattering methods, as well as ultracentrifugation.