Collaborative Research Centre SFB 953: “Synthetic Carbon Allotropes”
Synthetic carbon allotropes such as fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and graphene currently represent one of the most promising materials families with enormous potential for high-performance applications in the fields of nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, hydrogen storage, sensors, and reinforcements of polymers based on their unprecedented electronic, optical, mechanical and chemical properties. At the same time, they are ideal targets for investigating fundamental chemical and physical questions such as shape- and charge-dependent binding and release of molecules, charge transport in confined spaces, and superior sensing of supramolecular interactions.
Because of the almost limitless possibilities of constructing both discrete and extended networks of sp-, sp2– and sp3-hybridized C-atoms, many additional and so far unknown modifications with remarkable properties are imaginable and several examples have been predicted theoretically. Tapping these exciting possibilities fully, however, still requires overcoming a number of significant hurdles such as high-yield production methods, sorting and separation, developing synthesis protocols for new carbon allotropes, controlled doping with heteroelements, solubilization, chemical functionalization, hierarchically ordered architectures, and layer (single and multiple) formation. Hence tremendous interdisciplinary efforts are required that systematically combine the expertise of chemists, physicists, engineers, and theoreticians, together with the contributions of high-end analytical instrumentation.
The Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) hosts probably the largest and most productive pioneering community in Europe or even worldwide at the forefront of carbon allotrope research. Erlangen is the only place, where all fields of carbon research – the chemistry , the physics, and the materials engineering of fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, graphene, and of new synthetic carbon allotropes – are represented. The SFB 953 ‘Synthetic Carbon Allotropes’ therefore constitutes the ideal forum to advance the unifying knowledge on carbon science approaching the desired goal of creating new materials for high-performance applications.
SFB 953: Constitution and Structure
The SFB 953 ‘Synthetic Carbon Allotropes’ is structured in three research areas and two scientific central projects. Research area A (Synthesis and Functionalization) provides the materials basis of the collaborative research center. Both, chemical functionalization of known synthetic carbon allotropes and development of new carbon modifications lie at the forefront.
The next level within the process chain is the systematic investigation of the physical and materials properties and the development of concepts for device fabrication. This is guaranteed by the close interaction with Research Area B (Electronic, Optical, and Structural Properties), where systems synthesized in Research area A are studied in great detail. This highly integrated and interdisciplinary approach of the SFB 953 also necessitates a close connection with Research Area C (Theory). Both classical and quantum mechanical calculations provide the basis for an in-depth understanding of reaction mechanisms, stability, electronic and optical properties, and the structural and mechanical properties of synthetic carbon allotropes and their derivatives. Moreover, theory provides some of the most valuable design principles for the exploration of hitherto unknown forms of carbon. Finally, developing and strengthening fundamental and applied carbon allotrope research requires strong support from highly sophisticated analysis and structural characterization, which is provided by the two scientific central projects of Research Area Z (Characterization/Analysis) on tandem mass spectrometry and high resolution electron microscopy. Making use of the latest developments in analysis of carbon materials and advanced instrumentation, like dedicated mass spectrometry and aberration-corrected TEM, the goal of the two Z projects is to contribute to an atomic scale understanding of structure and structure-property relationships of carbon allotropes and related devices.