Polymers are ubiquitous in everyday life: from packaging materials all the way to specialty products in medicine and medical engineering. Today it is difficult to find a product which does not (at least in parts) consist of polymeric materials. The question of how these materials can be improved with respect to their disposal and consumption of (natural) resources during manufacturing is often raised. Today polymers must be fully recycled in Germany and many other countries due to the fact that they do not (or only very slowly) decompose in nature. Furthermore significant reductions of crude oil consumption during synthesis are of increasing importance in order to improve the sustainability of this class of materials. With respect to disposal polymers which do not have to be disposed by combustion but rather allow natural decomposition (composting) are of increasing interest. Polymers from renewable sources are also of interest for modern microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) especially if the systems designed are intended as single-use products.
This lecture will introduce the most important classes of these so-called biopolymers and bioplastics. It will also discuss and highlight polymers which are created from naturally created analogues (e.g. via fermentation) to petrochemical polymer precursors and describe their technical processing. Numerous examples from MEMS as well as everyday life will be given.
Some of the topics covered are:
- What are biopolyurethanes and how can you produce them from castor oil?
- What are “natural glues” and how are they different from chemical glues?
- How do you make tires from natural rubbers?
- What are the two most important polymers for life on earth?
- How can you make polymers from potatoes?
- Can wood be formed by injection molding?
- How do you make buttons from milk?
- Can you play music on biopolymers?
- Where and how do you use polymers for tissue engineering?
- How can you built LEGO with DNA?
The lecture will be given in German language unless non-German speaking students attend. In this case, the lecture will be given in English (with some German translations of technical vocabulary). The lecture slides are in English language and will be handed out for taking notes. Additional literature is not required.
The examination will be held in oral form at the end of the lecture. The lecture can be chosen as “Nebenfach” or part of a “Hauptfach”. The lecture is the third in a row which complements the lectures “Polymers in MEMS A – Chemistry, synthesis and applications” and “Polymers in MEMS B – Physics, manufacturing and applications”. These can be combined with this lecture as part of a “Hauptfach”. In the summer semester, there we also be a block practical course “Polymers in MEMS”.
Aims of the lecture
The aim of the lecture is providing mechanical or chemical engineers, as well as interested students from the life or material sciences the basic knowledge of biopolymers and bioplastics, highlighting their importance for modern MEMS systems with a wide view to applications in everyday life.
Bachelor (or equivalent level) students with basic knowledge in material science and chemistry. Basic understanding of MEMS and its technologies is helpful but not mandatory. Students should also have attended either “Polymers in MEMS A” or “Polymers in MEMS B” during winter semester as this lecture will not provide a general introduction in the chemistry of polymers or polymer processing.