Research profile

The Institute of Chemistry at the University of Potsdam is part of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The laboratories and research groups at the Institute of Chemistry cover all aspects of the chemical sciences. Research fields range from inorganic and organic to physical & theoretical, and polymer chemistry. The Institute of Chemistry is involved in two faculty-wide programs on „Functional Soft Matter“ and „Life Sciences“. Moreover, the Institute is home to the graduate school “Sustainable Chemistry”, which was established by the State of Brandenburg in 2007. Finally, the research groups have strong ties with the other institutes of the University of Potsdam, but also with the Berlin Universities, the surrounding non-university institutes such as the Max Planck and Fraunhofer Institutes located at the Science Park (Wissenschaftspark) Golm. Numerous national and international research institutions exist as well.

Research within the inorganic chemistry subdivision (Holdt, Schilde, Strauch, Taubert) is concerned with the synthesis, characterization, properties, and application of coordination compounds, porous frameworks, and organic-inorganic hybrid materials. Further work is dedicated to the extraction and recycling of heavy and precious metals from different media, synthesis and application of silicon carbide from renewable sources, and the development of novel functional materials based on ionic liquids.

The groups of the organic and analytical chemistry subdivision (Kleinpeter, Linker, Schmidt, Wessig, Meier) focus on the synthesis of complex organic molecules or parts thereof, develop new catalysts and identify reaction mechanisms. Further research focuses on the development of new molecules as, for example, probes for the behavior of cell membranes, on chemistry with singlet oxygen, or on sustainable approaches to monomers and polymers. Work of the analytical chemists is mainly concerned with natural products, substituent effects, and the dynamics and interactions of these molecules.

Research within the physical and theoretical chemistry section (Löhmannsröben, Bechmann, Saalfrank) focuses on optical spectroscopy, environmental analysis and the photophysical processes related to this work. Further projects involve elementary processes and catalytic reactions at surfaces and method development for computational studies.

Last but not least, the polymer and colloid section (Beuermann, Koetz) investigates radical polymerization in supercritical CO2 and ionic liquids, and questions related to the formation, stability, modification of microemulsions and their properties.

Besides the groups located at the Institute of Chemistry, there are a number of faculty that hold joint appointments with other institutions. Currently, there are three such groups (Laschewsky, with FhI-IAP, Lendlein, with HZG Teltow, and Antonietti, with MPI-KG), all of which focus on materials or polymer-related questions.

Obviously, the boundaries between the different sections are historic rather than scientific and there are of course a large number of interactions between individual groups at the Institute of Chemistry. Further collaborations include joint projects with groups in physics, biology and biochemistry, geosciences, or, as stated above, with the surrounding non-university institutions and the Universities in Berlin. Numerous activities are also part of larger networks, e.g. Cluster of Excellence 314, Collaborative Research Centers 658 und 450, Priority Programs 1093, 1145, 1191, 1362, EU Project FUNMIG, GoFORSYS, or several BMBF or ProInno projects.

Having moved into new buildings in 2001 and 2004, the Institute boasts both new and spacious laboratories and state of the art infrastructure. This includes single crystal X-ray diffractometers, a brand new ESR spectrometer, several NMR, MS, and GC-MS spectrometers, excellent electron microscopy (including cryo technology), numerous optical spectrometers including life time measurements etc., light scattering, rheology, and thermal analysis instruments, including a new TG-MS. Standard equipment such as IR and UV/Vis is also available in several laboratories. Finally, the Institute of Chemistry has its own workshop and glassblower, enabling the rapid construction of custom-made equipment. Owing to a smart planning of the entire campus structure, many of the neighboring Institutes own complementary equipment (for example, powder X-ray diffraction) such that a large number of additional experiments can be performed in collaboration with these institutes.