The group plant material adaptation is interested in how plant materials (eg wood, bark, seed pods) are shaped and structured to function in a particular environment or habitat. In general, plant materials are composed of cells, which are encased by a cell wall, a composite of cellulose, hemicelluloses, pectins and sometimes lignin. Agglomerations of cells with various shapes and sizes form tissues, organs and the whole plant body.
For a deep understanding, numerous methods for material characterization from the nanometer to the centimeter-range are applied. If necessary we develop new setups, eg to control envrionmental conditions. The current research activities of the group are assigned to the following 3 areas:
- Understanding how plants adapt/adjust their functional material properties to environmental conditions, eg. in fire-prone environments
- Growth and material adaptation within a plant eg. in trees but also in the model plant Arabidopsis
- Exploring interactions between basic research and design to find new routes towards a sustainable materials use
Our aim is to reveal interesting adaptation and optimization strategies, to understand them and to provide and use them as input parameters for the development of new materials or devices to a larger community. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of plant-based material in general is essential for sustainable and targeted use of this important renewable resource. Recently started work on exploring the use of different tree barks highlights the importance of basic knowledge about the material.