The properties of an advanced material are not only related to the chemical nature of its atoms, but also to their arrangement and distribution in its microstructure, including imperfections. Inspired by nature, the hierarchical organization of matter at different length scales from the molecular level (10-9 m) to the macroscopic level of real components (10-3 m) offer additional degrees of freedom for creating materials with multi-functional properties and their application in emerging technologies. Bridging the gap between nanoscale materials design and macroscopic devices (“from molecules to materials to functions”) requires approaches that can cover the entire range of time and length scales in synthesis and processing, modeling and simulation. Despite the large diversity of applications, the concepts of materials and process development are geared to common principles.
The three cross-sectional Research Areas A1, A2 and A3 provide synergistic expertise in synthesis, in situ and ex situ characterization and predictive simulation of particles and self-organized structures for the Research Areas B, C, D and E. These four application-oriented Research Areas are organized in process chains and are developing and engineering novel high-performance materials in nanoelectronics, optic & photonic, catalysis and lightweight construction.
Some common underlying scientific challenges became evident on comparing the process chains. The introduction of four Focal Topics in the second funding period, which link common fundamental scientific challenges from all research areas, scale new heights of interdisciplinarity. Growing application-oriented collaborations between Research Areas also come to fruition, with the introduction of several Joint Demonstrators.