Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Materials for Tomorrow’s Industry

Environmentally friendly white foil modeled on beetle scales or precise rapid printing processes to produce microscopically small structures. At the KIT Center Materials in Technical and Life Sciences, scientists develop nanostructured materials and environmentally compatible technologies from fundamental research to product commercialization, among others. Research teams of natural sciences, engineering, and life sciences cooperate. Digitalized industry needs new materials and methods for increasingly complex applications. Users from research and industry meet on the MaterialDigital platform (https://www.materialdigital.de/) that supports researchers in digitalizing materials science.

3D Matter Made to Order

The “3D Matter Made to Order” initiative of KIT and the University of Heidelberg is one of the clusters funded under the current excellence strategy. It pursues a highly interdisciplinary approach combining natural and engineering sciences. The planned research cluster concentrates on three-dimensional additive manufacturing techniques, from the molecular level to macroscopic dimensions. These methods are to be used to produce components and systems by nano printing at maximum process speed and resolution for novel applications in materials and life sciences.

Further Research Highlights

For the development of a white polymer foil, researchers used the white scales of a beetle as a model and made it appear white without using titanium dioxide that damages the environment. New materials are not yet calculated on the computer, but have to be synthesized and their properties have to be confirmed experimentally. Within the framework of the Virtual Materials Design (VirtMat) initiative, researchers work on simulating new materials for the microscopic world instead of measuring them. Research covers twelve selected topics ranging from fundamental problems of quantum physics to applied studies, such as production of more efficient materials for displays of mobile phones. Printing technologies are increasingly used in materials science. In case of 3D printing, for instance, highest precision and printing speed are of crucial importance. Scientists have developed a system to print highly precise, centimeter-sized objects with sub-micrometer details at so far unmatched speed. Printable electronics also plays an important role in times of digitalization and may replace silicon technology. Instead of rigid silicon wafers, carrier materials applied layer by layer may have various functions and forms. Numerous carrier materials are available for selection and may be flexible in contrast to the rigid wafers.