Functional Nanomaterials Chair

Current research of our group


This is a concise selection of our current work. For a detailed overview of our scientific work, you can refer to our publications. You can find our latest publications here


Microengineered Hollow Graphene Tube Systems Generate Conductive Hydrogels with Extremely Low Filler Concentration

Nano Letters

About the Cover:
We present an approach for the preparation of hydrogel composites with outstanding electrical conductivity at extremely low filler loadings. Exfoliated graphene and polyacrylamide are microengineered to 3D composites such that conductive graphene pathways pervade the hydrogel matrix, similar to an artificial nervous system.


Full paper: Link

Press release: "Like an artificial nervous system"




3D printer sensors could make breath tests for diabetes possible

The production of highly sensitive sensors is usually a complex process: it requires many different steps and the almost dust-free environment of special cleanrooms. Together with the Biomedical Engineering at the Technical University of Moldova we have now developed a procedure to produce extremely sensitive and energy-efficient sensors using 3D printing. The simple and cost-effective production method is also suitable for industrial production, as we have recently explained in the renowned specialist journal Nano Energy. Our sensor, is able to precisely measure the concentration of acetone vapor using a special structuring at nano level. As the acetone concentration in the breath correlates with blood sugar levels, we hope to have made a step towards producing a breath test for diabetics that could replace the daily checking of their blood sugar levels by finger pricks.

Full paper: Link

Press release: "3D printer sensors could make breath tests for diabetes possible"



Macroscopic Silicone Microchannel Matrix for Tailored Drug Release and Localized Glioblastoma Therapy

ABSTRACT: Localized therapy of the highly malignant brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) could help to drastically improve the treatment efficiency and increase the patient’s median survival. Here, a macroscopic PDMS matrix composed of interconnected microchannels for tailored drug release and localized GBM therapy is introduced. Based on a simple bottomup fabrication method using a highly versatile sacrificial template, the presented strategy solves the scaling problem associated with the previously developed microchannel-based drug delivery systems, which were limited to two dimensions due to the commonly employed top-down microfabrication methods. Additionally, tailoring of the microchannel density, the fraction of drug-releasing microchannels and the macroscopic size of the drug delivery systems enabled precise adjustment of the drug release kinetics for more than 10 days. As demonstrated in a long-term GBM in vitro model, the release kinetics of the exemplarily chosen GBM drug AT101 could be tailored by variation of the microchannel density and the initial drug concentration, leading to diffusion-controlled AT101 release. Adapting a previously developed GBM treatment plan based on a sequential stimulation with AT101, measured anti-tumorigenic effects of free versus PDMS-released AT101 were comparable in human GBM cells and demonstrated efficient biological activity of PDMS-released AT101.


Full paper: Link

Press release: "Reducing side effects during the treatment of brain tumours "


Innovative battery research SH: Start of a new project “BAEW – Labor für zuverlässige, batteriegestützte Energiewandlung”


Innovative battery technology paired with the right power electronics has the potential to fundamentally improve our energy generation and mobility. As batteries are more and more in focus, new materials solution for high energy and high power batteries are necessary. Silicon as one of the earth abundant materials is the material of choice having the potential to drastically increase the capacity and thus energy density of batteries.
Therefore, this project aims to bring together specialists in the field of battery development from materials science and power electronics in a real laboratory with a new research infrastructure. In this innovation laboratory, in close mutual cooperation, new battery technology can be tested in application-related power electronics issues related to memory integration in smart grids and electromobility. In addition, the use of "Wide Band Gap" (WBP) power semiconductors (silicon carbide in the stationary area and gallium nitride in mobile applications) forms the heart of the project. In particular, the new infrastructure will offer regional prospects for high-quality research, cooperation and training in the future. Locally rooted and well-trained specialists in turn benefit the economy in Schleswig-Holstein and promote the transfer of knowledge between universities and industry.
In the course of the energy transition, the areas of electricity, heat and mobility are growing together. A reliable energy supply requires both intelligent power grids and innovative storage technologies. To achieve this, the areas of materials science and power electronics will work closely together in a new laboratory at the Kiel University (CAU). Schleswig-Holstein invests almost two million euros in the equipment to develop and test new battery systems for intelligent networks and electromobility. The interdisciplinary laboratory at the Faculty of Engineering is also open for scientific and industrial cooperation. Additionally, this laboratory should be integrated in the daily education of young researchers in Schleswig-Holstein. On Thursday, July 2, 2020, 9:45 a.m., Prime Minister Daniel Günther hands over the funding decision of 1,974,034 euros funded by the “Europäischer Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE)”.


Press release CAU: Forschungskooperation für neue Batterietechnik




Artificial heart valves: new coating procedure could reduce risk of thrombosis


Heart valves regulate the blood flow, to ensure the body is supplied with enough blood. If they don’t close properly any more, for example due to a heart attack, then artificial heart valves can fulfil the required function. But blood platelets can easily stick to the metal surfaces of conventional heart valves. In order to prevent the formation of blood clots, patients must therefore take medication for life. Certain blood-repellent plastics could offer alternative materials. However, until now they have been too soft to be used as a heart valve. A research team from the Institute for Materials Science at Kiel University (CAU), in cooperation with the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), Campus Lübeck, has now managed to combine a soft, blood-repellent plastic with a sturdy plastic. The team is convinced it could be used for biomedical implants such as artificial heart valves in future. The research team has presented how they used the simple, purely mechanical procedure to permanently connect non-adhesive plastics for the first time in the journal Nanoscale Horizons. The technique for joining is based on mechanical interlocking and is enabled by creating micrscopic hooking point on the stiff polymer's surface. To these the soft, non-sticky plastic can adhere. Such a microscopic hooking point can be seen below.


Link paper: Perfect polymer interlocking by spherical particles: capillary force shapes hierarchical composite undercuts

Press release CAU: Artificial heart valves: new coating procedure could reduce risk of thrombosis




Making metal surfaces strong, resistant, and multifunctional by nanoscale-sculpturing

Surfaces are the crucial and limiting factor in nearly all metal applications, especially when technologically relevant alloys are employed. Insufficient surface properties on the nano- and microscale of metals determine, e.g. metal–polymer composite stability, implant biocompatibility, or corrosion resistance. Conventional surface preparation is just like an arbitrary cut through the metal body optimized for bulk behavior so that such surfaces contain various element mixtures and complex microstructures in which grains and lattice planes vary in their chemical stability from weak to strong. In contrast, the here described novel nanoscale-surface sculpturing based on semiconductor etching knowledge turns surfaces of everyday metals into their most stable configuration, but leaves the bulk properties unaffected. Thus, nanoscale-sculpturing ensures stronger, reliable joints to nearly all materials, reduces corrosion vastly, and generates a multitude of multifunctional surface properties not limited to those shown below.

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Link paper:

Press release CAU:


Zinc oxide cures genital herpes in animals


A new effective vaccine for the protection from genital herpes has been developed from a microbicide and four-legged zinc oxide microstructures calles tetrapods. The viral particles are bound to the zinc oxide particles where the antigen presenting cells can further process them. This has been a cooperative work with the University of Illinois at Chicago

Link to the paper Link to press release


 Antigen presenting cells (APC)  process viral particles, which are bound on zinc oxide tetrapods (ZOTEN) Credit: Deepak Shukla

Antigen presenting cells (APC)  process viral particles, which are bound on zinc oxide tetrapods (ZOTEN) Credit: Deepak Shukla


Functional Ecofriendly Coatings for Marine Applications

Biofouling auf verschiedenen Oberflächen in Gammel Âlbo, Dänemark

Biofouling on a varying surfaces at Gammel Âlbo, Denmark

Since the prohibition of tributyltin (TBT)-based antifouling paints in 2008, the development of environmentally compatible and commercially realizable alternatives is a crucial issue. Cost effective fabrication of antifouling paints with desired physical and biocompatible features is simultaneously required and recent developments in the direction of inorganic nanomaterials could play a major role. In the present work, a solvent free polymer/particle-composite coating based on two component polythiourethane (PTU) and tetrapodal shaped ZnO (t-ZnO) nano- and microstructures has been synthesized and studied with respect to mechanical, chemical and biocompatibility properties. Furthermore, antifouling tests have been carried out in artificial seawater tanks. Four different PTU/t-ZnO composites with various t-ZnO filling fractions (0 wt%, 1 wt%, 5 wt%, 10 wt%) were prepared and the corresponding tensile, hardness, and pull-off test results revealed that the composite filled with 5 wt% t-ZnO exhibits the strongest technical properties. Surface free energy (SFE) studies using contact angle measurements showed that the SFE value decreases with an increase in t-ZnO filler amounts. The influence of t-ZnO on the polymerization reaction was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared-spectroscopy measurements and thermogravimetric analysis. The immersion tests demonstrated that fouling behavior of the PTU/t-ZnO composite with a 1 wt% t-ZnO filler has been decreased in comparison to pure PTU. The composite with a 5 wt% t-ZnO filler showed almost no biofouling.



For marine applications, the antifouling coatings have to fulfill various demands, like mechanical and UV-stability, being non-toxic and long lasting, etc. The presented investigations demonstrate the suitability of tetrapodal ZnO-polymer composite coatings for antifouling applications.



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 Mechanical interlocking as adhesion process on special, etched aluminium substrates 
a)-d) The increase of the surface roughness leads to locking of the glue or adhesive e) An adhesionsystem between
silicones which enables painting on silicone surfaces f) Special, etched aluminium surfaces g) 3D-printed polymerlocks
on etched surfaces exhibit an extremely strong adhesion.