Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Whether microchips and sensors in clothing or solar cells on a tent roof – polymer electronics makes such technical applications possible. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz are searching for suitable conducting polymers for these applications. This is, however, not all they do: they investigate polymers in all their different facets – their production, their physical properties and their applications. This is because polymers are becoming increasingly important as materials – not only for flexible, low cost electronics, but also, for example, as minute capsules that can contain drugs that can then be transported specifically to the area affected by the disease. Moreover, the researchers in Mainz are developing new procedures to spectrographically investigate polymers and to simulate their behaviour on the computer. They also work with soft matter, which, like wine gums, combines the properties of solid bodies and liquids. 


Ackermannweg 10
55128 Mainz
Phone: +49 6131 379-0
Fax: +49 6131 379-100

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Investigation of thin liquid films at interfaces between ice and clay materials


A new approach to cancer therapy: molecular networks drive tumor cells into self-destruction


Microscopic structures could further improve perovskite solar cells


Severed nerve tracts are very difficult to treat. If at all, the damage so far can only be repaired through complex operations. At the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, we have developed materials that stimulate damaged nerves into growth. Results from initial tests on mice show that nerve tracts can regenerate this way.


Research Council ERC awards grants of up to 2.5 million euros each


Germany's objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 will require a massive expansion of solar energy and improved photovoltaic modules. New materials such as perovskites promise to deliver more cost-effective and more efficient solar arrays. To pave the way for their development, Stefan Weber and Rüdiger Berger of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz are clarifying the processes that take place inside perovskite solar cells.

Numbness, immobility and, in the worst case, paraplegia - the severing of a nerve pathway - often has permanent consequences. This is because the extracellular matrix, which provides support for the neurons, is also damaged during the injury. Tanja Weil and Christopher Synatschke, who work at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, are looking for a replacement for this support material. And they have already made an important find.

Katharina Landfester, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, has opened the door to numerous applications. She has developed a technology whereby tiny containers can be specifically manufactured for almost any substance and equipped with various functions. Her team is now working on using nanocapsules as transporters for pharmaceuticals, as medical sensors, or as fungus treatments in wine production.

Plastics are practical – not least because they last. But when they find their way into the environment, this is precisely what becomes a problem. The amount of plastic waste in the environment is constantly increasing. A team headed by Frederik Wurm at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz is therefore developing polymers that can be broken down by microorganisms once they have served their purpose. The researchers are applying what they’ve learned from their work on biodegradable polymers for medical use.

Developing drugs that eliminate cancer cells effectively and have few or no side effects – this is one important aim of the Research Group led by Tanja Weil, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. Weil and her team of chemists convert proteins into traceable drug transporters for nanomedicine with the help of miniscule diamonds.

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How to split water

2020 Domke, Dr. Katrin F.

Cell Biology Chemistry Material Sciences Solid State Research Structural Biology

The production of hydrogen or the generation of energy from molecular hydrogen could be important processes in future energy storage systems, such as those already used in hydrogen-powered cars. At the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research we have taken a closer look at the processes taking place on molecular length scales and thus gained fundamental insights into the chemical reactions at electrodes.


How nerves can grow

2019 Synatschke, C.V.; Weil, T.

Cell Biology Chemistry Material Sciences Solid State Research Structural Biology

Injuries resulting from severed nerve tracts are difficult to treat sometimes requiring complex operations. We have asked ourselves: Would it be possible to stimulate nerve cells to grow using tailor-made materials? This would help the cells to close a gap in theinjured nerve. In the laboratory, we have produced an artificial material that may solve this problem and provide an alternative to surgery in the future.


Fighting diseases using trojan horses

2018 Wurm, Frederik; Landfester, Katharina

Cell Biology Chemistry Material Sciences Solid State Research Structural Biology

The fungal disease Esca affects vines and leads to the dying of the plants. The infection may also happen years before the first external indications are observed, therefore an early treatment is nearly impossible. This causes a yearly damage of over one billion Euros worldwide. During our research we developed a treatment method based on nanotechnology that fights the fungus in the inside of the vine.


Clean surfaces don’t have to be smooth

2018 Hans-Jürgen Butt

Chemistry Material Sciences Solid State Research

The movement of water drops on surfaces is an actual research topic. An understanding of the physical processes on such solid-liquid interfaces helps us to produce long-living, clean surfaces. In our division we focus on getting insights into the sliding of drops with the help of modern microscopical methods. These results lead to new concepts for modern self-cleaning surfaces.


Small- and nano-scale soft phononics

2017 Fytas, George

Material Sciences Solid State Research

1993, twelve years after the discovery of photonics, was the birth of phononic materials for the controlled propagation of mechanical/acoustic waves. The first experimental realization followed in soon after at sonic and later at hypersonic frequencies using macromachinery and soft matter self-assembly. Two examples, artificial and natural hierarchical structures, will highlight the new emerging field of high frequency phononics aiming at tunable strong, deaf, cool and interactive materials.

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