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ERC Starting Grant "3DPartForm"
ERC Starting Grant "3DPartForm"
New polymer materials are necessary to match the demand for highly integrated, multifunctional, responsive systems for sensing, information processing, soft robotics or multi-parametric implants. Both established material design concepts based on lithography, and emerging engineering efforts based on additive manufacturing (AM) are currently not able to fully address the need for topologically complex, multifunctional and stimuli-responsive polymer materials. This proposal aims at establishing a radically new approach for polymer material design, rethinking AM on both material and process level. Here, functionality will be already embedded at the building block level to emerge into larger scales. The exact methodology relies on polymer microparticles as a novel material basis with arbitrary geometry, function, mechanics and responsiveness. These microparticulate formulations will serve as predefined, voxel-like building blocks in AM yielding hierarchical assemblies with spatially defined voxel position and programmable, adaptive properties, which clearly go beyond existing functional material classes.

With that, 3DPartForm will address the current lack of additive manufacturing providing multifunctional, stimuli-responsive materials, in which not only strongly different, but most importantly functional building blocks with intrinsic time axis will be processed into true 4D-polymer multimaterials. Products emerging from this approach will reach a previously unknown level of system integration, where optical transparency, electric and thermal conductivity as well as diffusivity and mechanical rigidity will become spatiotemporally tunable at single-voxel level. Coupled sensing and actuation operations will be realized by processing, transforming and manipulating single or combined input stimuli within these materials in the focus of 3DPartform, and platforms for biomimetics and cell-free biotechnology will be implemented as a long-term goal.