The long-term goal of the Laboratory for Multifunctional Materials is the development of generally valid synthesis concepts that make it possible to prepare inorganic materials in a predicted and rational way.
Currently we focus our research efforts on five areas:
Within the broad area of nanoparticle research, the Laboratory for Multifunctional Materials has made significant contributions in the last few years. In particular, a powerful synthesis approach to metal oxide nanoparticles has been developed, which could be summarized as "solvent-controlled nonaqueous sol-gel method". This method is unique in the sense that in contrast to other liquid-phase synthesis routes it gives not only access to binary metal oxides, but also ternary and even quaternary metal oxide nanoparticles with high crystallinity. Furthermore, the synthesis of metal oxide nanoparticles in organic solvents makes use of the well-known chemistry of the carbon-oxygen bond, opening the possibility to adapt reaction principles from organic chemistry to the synthesis of inorganic nanomaterials. The Laboratory of Multifunctional Materials is one of the pioneering groups in the use of organic chemistry for inorganic nanomaterials’ preparation, which brings some rationale into nanoparticle synthesis. Recently, we were able to significantly extend this synthesis methodology beyond metal oxides to lithium metal phosphates, metal sulfides and bulk metals.
Although our research activities are clearly focused on the development of efficient synthesis routes to inorganic functional materials, the characterization of the obtained products and the study of their physical and chemical properties with respect to applications are equally important. Main achievements in the field of applied materials include the discovery of a chemoresistive CO2 gas sensor based on rare earth metal oxy carbonates, the microwave-assisted liquid-phase preparation of doped and undoped lithium metal phosphates that can be used as cathodes for lithium ion batteries, and the development of a simple electroless liquid-phase deposition technique for free-standing copper foils and supported copper thin films, which can easily be structured into conducting line patterns for electronics applications.
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