Professor at the Chair of Forest Biomaterials, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Freiburg

Our research aims at best valorizing natural resources, in particular forest resources, into bonded wood products and innovative biomaterials. Natural materials often rely on a composite architecture, which is hierarchically designed from the molecular to the macroscopic scales to deliver high performance and multiple functionalities. We conduct fundamental and applied research to better understand the structure and the properties of natural materials such as the lignocellulosic cell wall. We then utilize plant-derived biopolymers and other natural polymers to develop new bio-based composites with tailored performance and functions. Overall, three research themes are addressed:

  1. Model & characterize the lignocellulosic cell wall structure and properties
  2. Model and design interphases in bio-based polymer blends and composites
  3. Lab scale formulation and manufacturing of bio-based polymers and (nano)composites with tailored properties and biodegradability

In these lines of research, adhesion science, polymer physical chemistry and viscoelastic modeling are essential tools. We can for instance shed light on biopolymer interactions and interphase morphology by studying the polymer molecular motions and relaxations with solid state NMR and viscoelastic modeling. Using polymer blend approaches, we develop lignin-based materials with tunable thermoplasticity and tannin-based foams with controlled structure and properties. We are also currently developing adhesives, coatings, membranes, miscrostructured thin films etc, based on cellulose and other polysaccharidic nanofibers. For the development of such bionanocomposites, we attempt to manipulate the composite interphase, morphology and properties by integrating nanofiber production with composite manufacture. in situ manufacturing techniques such as plasma polymerization, ink jet printing, or bioengineering approaches are in this respect useful green alternatives to solvent-based processes.