In this century, the importance of polymeric materials in highly advanced components and devices has increased rapidly both in relative (compared to the growth of this market segment) and absolute figures. This overwhelming growth mainly originates from the flexibility in molecular design of polymers, the commercial availability in a wide variety of molecular architectures, the low price, the ease of processing and the possibility to integrate attractive mechanical and thermal properties with various optical, electrical and electro-optical functionalities. Despite the enormous progress in this area, there is still ample room for further improvement and expansion for polymers with respect to materials, processing, properties and applications. This class of polymers is often referred to as 'functional, advanced or specialty polymers' to distinguish them from 'engineering polymers' and 'bulk polymers'. Frequently, however, typical 'engineering' or 'bulk' polymers are used and the added value and/or their 'advanced and specialty' character originates from their use in comparatively small quantities or from the elaborate processes involved in the manufacturing and structuring of components or devices. We have defined basic research areas which are subdivided into research projects and which share a common theme:
"Nano- and Micro-Structuring via Top-Down and Bottom-Up Approaches"
This general approach is used in a wide variety of application areas including :
Information & Communication
Sensors & Actuators
An extensive infrastructure was established for the top-down structuring of polymeric materials which includes :
The bottom-up structuring of polymers is often performed via self-organization of liquid crystals and their polymeric analogs. The main motivation for using liquid crystals or reactive mesogens is their ability to self-organize into defect-free, monolithic structures with a wide variety of molecular architectures.
A rather wide range of projects is performed in this context which are listed below :
Sensors & Actuators, Casper van Oosten
Holographic Membranes, An Prenen
Maskless Lithography, Blanca Serrano, Carmen Luengo
Flat Panel Displays (LCD), Chris van Heesch
Photo-Embossing of Relief Structures, Ko Hermans
Field Effect Transistors, Joost Valeton
Solar Energy, Michael Debije
For further reading see :