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Research Training Group 2204 - Research

The increase of the world’s population and the resulting higher energy demand require new strategies to guarantee a sustainable energy supply and worldwide prosperity. In this research area the development in Germany is governed by the renouncement of nuclear energy and the commitment to renewable energy sources („Energiewende“). The choice and development of suitable materials for high-tech fields like consumer electronics, energy supply and electromobility will become increasingly important and is in the focus of the research activities of this Research Training Group (RTG).
Simple estimates for photovoltaics and thermoelectrics show that using these technologies on the required scale, i.e. Tera-Watts of electric power, will be strongly limited due to resource shortages and high production costs. The development of so-called „substitute materials“, based on abundant chemical elements („elements of hope“), as well as a general reduction of the material demand for a certain technology are required to meet this challenge.

The research programme applies these strategies to conversion, storage as well as transport of energy:
In thermoelectrics, which is used for converting heat to electric energy, rare elements like Tellurium and Germanium have to be substituted to enable a large-scale application. Silicides as well as oxides/sulfides (Zn(O,S), Cu
x(O,S), TiS2) are promising candidates for this. For a mass production of Hydrogen (H2) as a clean fuel by using sunlight, new materials for solar cells and photoelectrodes are developed. This is done on the one hand by exploring alternative chemical compounds and on the other hand by taylor-made nanostructuring of known materials, decreasing the demand of material while keeping performance constant. Storage of electric energy is gaining importance in times of volatile energy carriers and increasing electromobility. The RTG contributes to this challenge by developing resource-efficient battery concepts like metal-air and alkaline-sulfur accumulators. Diamondoids and graphene, which are special modifications of carbon, are optimised for applications in future microelectronics devices. Thermocromic and electrochromic materials are developed for the building sector where their application in „intelligent windows“ may revolutionise air-conditioning.

All phases of development - ranging from materials design via synthesis and characterisation to testing simple devices - require a close cooperation between chemistry and physics.

The doctorate is accompanied by courses in the fields of environmental management, recycling strategies and science teaching.

To prepare the members for the job market, they are also tought soft skills (team competence, presentation techniques, scientific writing, patent law, foreign languages, project management, etc.) which are more and more required in industry and academics.


Fields of Research and Projects of the RTG


A - Energy-efficient Technologies


Sustainable materials concepts for thermoelectrics

Heiliger, Janek, Klar, Müller


Thermo- and electrochromic materials

Gross, Heiliger, Klar, Polity, Schlettwein, Smarsly

A3 Alternative electrochromic materials based on molecular plasmonics Chatterjee, Mollenhauer, Schlettwein, Schreiner


B - Batteries


Alkaline-metal batteries

Janek, Mollenhauer, Smarsly


Redox flow batteries

Janek, Mollenhauer, Schlettwein, Schirmeisen, Wegner

B3 Cathode materials Chatterjee, Heiliger, Janek, Klar, Polity


C - Carbon-based Technologies


Highly ordered non-graphitic carbons and graphene-based materials

Chatterjee, Gatti, Janek, Klar, Smarsly


Hydrocarbon-metal complexes for optoelectronic applications

Chatterjee, Schirmeisen, Schlettwein, Schreiner

C3 Graphene nanoribbons Mollenhauer, Schirmeisen, Wegner