News overview


Newsletter PS-Park 'n' Science, 8th edition, June 2012

English text version of the Park'n'Science newsletter

Table of Contents
Science Year 2012 Project EARTH: Our Future
It can be done without oil!
Biofunctional multilayer
Flexibility is crucial
Park ‘n’ Life


"Project Earth: Our Future" –
Scientists in Potsdam-Golm also involved

Contributions from the Potsdam Science Park

Editorial, Year of Science 2011 – Research for Our HealthFor the Science Year 2012, the BMBF has issued the slogan "Project Earth: Our Future".

Of course, such a project will never end and cannot be tackled by Germany alone, and especially not by a single research centre. We need the know-how of many experts and to consider the topic from various perspectives. Prof. Dr. Louise Vet, Director of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology, vividly clarified the need for a global change in attitudes and approaches in her lecture at the Leibniz-Kolleg in Potsdam. Until now, life-cycle assessments (LCA) have considered product life-cycles "from cradle to grave". Instead, Louise Vet now calls for consistent thinking in terms of closed cycles. So, drawing on nature, we should now think "from cradle to cradle" - after all, nothing is wasted in nature. In this issue, too, you will find examples of the intelligent use of renewable resources, subsequent recycling, and reintegration into the system.

Insurance takes advantage of minimised risk through distributed options. This principle has proved itself in nature since the beginning of time as biodiversity. We are currently in the process of giving up this principle. In this issue of PS you can read about the consequences of disappearing biodiversity. If one relates the term "diversity" to R&D, this means accepting different possible solutions to a task in order to achieve an optimum solution. One could consider irrigation systems for dry soil or, as in this issue, plants that can withstand stress.

If we could fight illnesses at their source, that is, at cell level, before they damage the entire organism, then we would have reached a medical milestone. But to do that, we first have to clarify how cells respond to different stimuli. The scientists at the IBMT have found a special way of doing this, which we present in this issue of PS.

Find out more about the exciting contributions made by the Potsdam-Golm Science Park to our joint project.

I hope you enjoy reading the issue.
Barbara Buller

Science Year 2012 Project EARTH: Our Future

Sustainable development is also being researched at the Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP)

Potato crops with varying irrigation in a field in Golm. On the left are the irrigated control plants, on the right the plants in the drought stress experiment.
Potato crops with varying irrigation in a field in Golm. On the left are the irrigated control plants, on the right the plants in the drought stress experiment.

We are faced by many global challenges in the 21st century. In addition to topics such as climate change or loss of biodiversity, public discussion often focuses on the world's constantly growing population. How and in what way can the people on our planet be provided with sufficient and high quality food? How can we ensure that even our grandchildren will be able to cultivate fertile soil? What can be done to combat climate change? How do we maintain biodiversity? These are questions that need to be answered. The Science Year 2012, titled "Project EARTH: Our Future", is therefore dedicated to research for sustainable development.

Scientists are working on topics that contribute to the protection of natural resources and preservation of the environment not just in Germany, but all over the world. The scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology are no exception.

Identifying plants that can cope better than others with extreme climatic conditions such as cold, drought or high rainfall areon the institute's agenda. Managed and coordinated by the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology and the Bundesverband Deutscher Pflanzenzüchter [German Plant Breeders' Association], the scientists are working on a large project for the long-term improvement of the drought tolerance of potatoes. The research project called TROST – short for Trockenstress, the German word for drought stress – aims to identify markers that will allow to identify potato varieties whose starch content is less affected by low precipitation.

To this aim more than thirty different potato varieties are being grown at numerous locations in Germany over several years. Some plants are sufficiently watered, others have to cope with the little water the rain provides. fFrom external characteristics one can soon determine which varieties can handle drought relatively well and which are wiped out. Gene products and intermediate metabolites are measured in leaf samples that were taken during field tests and controlled greenhouse tests. Among these substances the researchers searched for so-called markers that enable predictions about whether or not the starch content of a variety is stable under drought stress. Using this method, it could be possible to predict the yield stability even with young plants, without conducting longtime field trials.

Other exciting research projects that aim to make our lives more sustainable can be found on the institute’s website. Each month they highlight a different topic.

For more information, see:
We look forward to you visiting our website.
Claudia Steinert/Ursula Roß-Stitt

It can be done without oil!

Polymers and their products have been part of our everyday life since time immemorial. In our interview, Dr. Johannes Ganster from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) highlights specific examples of how today's highly functional polymers are being integrated into "Project Earth: Our Future".

Dr. Johannes Ganster
Dr. Johannes Ganster shows an especially light, fibre-strengthened car door interior panelling (Photo: Fraunhofer IAP)

"Project Earth: Our Future" is the slogan for this year's Science Year. How does your polymer research contribute to this project?
J. Ganster: We come across polymers almost everywhere - as packaging, in textiles, in car tyres, in toys, in medical technology, in displays, and in numerous other special applications. These are mainly synthetic polymers based on oil, but increasingly also biopolymers such as bioplastics from renewable resources. At Fraunhofer IAP we are working on making bio-based and synthetic polymers meet the growing requirements for materials and the environment − so that end products, for example, will become longer-lasting, more resistant to temperature, more stable, easier to keep clean, healthier, more resistant to acid, friendlier to the environment, more cost effective … and ever easier to manufacture using less energy. We are focusing on aspects such as functionality, efficiency and safety with the objective of replacing oil as the raw material with renewable resources in as many applications as possible. After all, as synthetic products of nature, these offer an impressive variety of macromolecular structures and are available to an almost unlimited extent.

You speak of biopolymers, bio-based polymers and bioplastics. What is the difference between them? Are all of these biologically degradable?
J. Ganster: In general, bio-based and biodegradable plastics are called bioplastics. The term "bio-based" has since been uniquely defined: according to TÜV Rheinland, bio-based products are completely or partly made of raw materials that, in the course of their short growth, have absorbed as much CO2 as they release when they are disposed of and/or combusted. In this context, products that consist at least 20% of renewable resources are labelled "DIN CERTCO bio-based".

Bio-based plastics consist completely or partly of renewable resources, although they are not necessarily biologically degradable. In turn, biologically degradable plastics are not necessarily made of renewable vegetable or animal materials. Unfortunately, common plastics made of oil generally have a very long half-life, since nature provides no or very few micro-organisms or enzymes to break them down. The polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic only half degrades biologically after around 450 years. The world's oceans already contain an uncounted number of pieces of plastic rubbish − dominated by PET. The bio-based plastic polylactide (PLA) is very similar to PET, although it would decompose in the sea within a few weeks. PLA is considerably more expensive than PET. However, it would be a shame to throw away products made of polylactide, since it has much greater benefits than usual plastic: it can be professionally composted after its use. Furthermore, polylactide can be reclaimed through chemical recycling and new products can be created out of it.

Are there any successful bioplastics on the market already?
J. Ganster: Definitely, since bioplastics formed the origin of the plastics industry. The first mass plastics were based on the cellulose biopolymer. Classic products were celluloid and cellophane, for example. Cellulose is still one of the most important biopolymers for our research at Fraunhofer IAP. We are developing a series of innovative products such as films, non-wovens or fibres. The latter can also be integrated into plastics as reinforcing material. This creates materials with improved properties. They are, for example, very light yet stable and are excellently suited for automotive engineering, such as the car door interior panelling that we have developed for VW. Cellulose fibres – tyre cord – is also used in tyres for racing cars. Our research work also focuses on PLA. A number of PLA products are already on the market, such as surgical suture materials or tiny screws for dental surgery. They are highly compatible with the human body and simply disintegrate over time. PLA packaging is found increasingly often in trade. It is especially suitable for perishable goods such as tomatoes, since its oxygen and vapour permeability is better than those of oil-based plastics. Polyamides from vegetable oils are already being used for hoses in the automobile industry. Bio-based polyurethanes are suitable for foams, soles of shoes, ski boots or household sponges.
Interview: Sandra Mehlhase

Biofunctional multilayer

Dr Dmitry Volodkin joined the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT in Potsdam as a guest in November 2010, having recently been awarded the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. His workgroup was set up in 2011 when links were also established with the activities of the hosting institution.

Dr Volodkin's group examines and develops new types of substrates for cell cultivation, which are likely to be an important resource for cell-based therapies in future. Approaches such as the stimulation of immune cells or the use of stem cells should form the basis for treating a number of illnesses. At the same time, the substrates, as matrices for creating new types of tissue samples, should enable more reliable and animal-free testing of new medicines. For all of these applications, it must be possible to strategically control the behaviour and development of cells. Adherent cells are an important class for such therapies. Understanding how these cells respond to mechanical, chemical and topographical stimuli in their cellular micro-environment is vital for this.

In this context, tailor-made multilayers made of suitable polyelectrolytes (mainly biopolymers, but biomolecules and proteins can also be used) and activatable connections are being developed that should enable living cells to be controlled.

The adhesion of the cells to films is controlled by the composition of the layers. The use of microfluidic systems has proven to be especially advantageous here. Even very low quantities of reagents are sufficient to precisely control the molecular concentration.

Scheme for the localised release of DNA from polyelectrolyte layers for the selective insertion of cells
Scheme for the localised release of DNA from polyelectrolyte layers for the selective insertion of cells. Gold nanoparticles are heated up by laser light among previously defined cells. This locally increases the mobility of the DNA in the polymer layer. It diffuses at the surface and can be taken up by the addressed cells.

The research fields comprise polymer dynamics, the mechanical properties of polymer films, the use of films as a reservoir for biomolecules, biofunctionalisation, and the light-induced activation of carriers loaded with drugs and biomacromolecules such as proteins and DNA. The results obtained from this will be used for researching the interaction between cells and polymer films. All aspects are being investigated, from a cell-biological to a biochemical and physico-chemical perspective. This approach is essential to guarantee targeted development of the systems for biomedical applications. Atomic force microscopy, confocal microscopy, microfluidics and cell-specific detection techniques are used as the methods of examination.

The layer architectures currently being developed enable experiments to be carried out for identifying the cellular reaction, and should therefore also contribute to improved understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of cell and molecular biology. In the research carried out to date, a series of promising results has already been achieved and these are extremely valuable for understanding and further optimising polymer films. Linked to this is the hope that these layers will soon provide valuable services in biomedicine and pharmaceutical research.
Dr. Stephanie Schwarz

Flexibility is crucial

Biodiversity influences the dynamics and adaptability of ecological systems

In the past 100 years, mankind has changed the earth's ecosystems faster and more extensively than ever before. Rapidly growing demands for food and energy caused an enormous loss of biological diversity on a global scale. However, this biodiversity forms the basis for our existence, since ecosystems provide us with a number of essential goods and services such as food, clean drinking water, construction materials, climate regulation and protection from floods and erosion. Such ecosystem services arise from abiotic and biotic components which interact in multiple ways, thereby forming a functional unit. The latest research findings from the Institute for Biochemistry and Biology at Potsdam University show that the ability of organisms and populations to adapt to altering environmental conditions depends on the biodiversity and the robustness of the entire system to disturbances and stress factors such as climate change. Although our well-being depends considerably on this flexibility of ecosystems undergoing change, our knowledge and predictive power concerning how communities and entire ecosystems respond to disturbances is still very limited.

Ecological systems are no rigid, mechanical clockworks; instead, their individual components have the flexibility to respond to system changes by changing their individual properties which, in turn, feeds back on their own dynamics and the entire system’s behaviour. The aim is to improve our understanding of these complex interactions between biodiversity and the adaptability of organisms in natural and disrupted ecosystems. We use a new, dynamic approach that considers the flexibility and feedback effects between the biotic and abiotic components of the ecosystem. The functional characteristics of organisms are being determined experimentally over relatively long periods of time and many generations in order to quantify their particular ability and speed to adjust to changes in the environment. Among other things, experiments with floating plankton communities and substrate-bonded biofilm cultures are linked to computer-based ecosystem modelling, so that empirical and theoretical research synergistically complement each other.

Further developing ecological theory and implementing it in realistic ecosystem models with increased predictive power poses a great challenge. The aim is to better predict the consequences of the globally observed loss of biodiversity and, in the best-case scenario, be able to reduce biodiversity loss by means of integrative management methods. Only maintaining and using the natural potential to adapt of a variety of organisms will ensure the integrity of our ecosystems and their services that are so vital to us and ther generations to come. Ecosystem services are still assumed to be free of charge and available to a virtually unlimited extent, especially by politicians. So far, their actual value (e.g. flood protection) is often only recognized indirectly by the extremely high consequential costs when they are lost. In complex, non-linear systems such as ecosystems, however, a tremendous efforts are often required to reverse any changes once they have occurred.
Prof. Dr. Ursula Gaedke, Alice Boit, Potsdam University

(Quelle: C. Mulder, RIVM, NL)
(Quelle: C. Mulder, RIVM, NL)


New chairman for the BLRK

Prof. Oliver Günther
Prof. Oliver Günther, PhD (Photo: Soeren Stache dpa/Ibn)

The president of Potsdam University, Prof. Oliver Günther, Ph.D, has been elected as the new chairman of the Brandenburg State Rectors' Conference (Brandenburgische Landesrektorenkonferenz, BLRK). On 1 April 2012, he took over from Prof. Dr. Eng. Johannes Vielhaber, Rector of the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences. "I'm looking forward to this new task," Prof. Oliver Günther said after the election. "In view of the challenges that the universities in Brandenburg will have to face in years to come, I am highly motivated to take on this additional responsibility." His tenure is for two years. Members of the Brandenburg State Rectors' Conference include all of the presidents and rectors of the eleven higher education institutions and universities in Brandenburg. It deals with all issues affecting universities from research to teaching and learning through to knowledge and technology transfer, as well as international relationships. The BLRK promotes a mutual opinion-forming process.

Commemorative colloquium and handover of office

Members of the Mathematics and Natural Sciences faculty at Potsdam University honoured the long-standing Dean with a scientific commemorative event.

Prof. Dr. Reimund Gerhard
Prof. Dr. Reimund Gerhard (Image: Karla Fritze)

The head of Applied Physics and Condensed Matter in the Institute for Physics and Astronomy, Prof. Dr. Reimund Gerhard, has been Dean since April 2008. Colleagues and coworkers thanked him with a commemorative colloquium for his great commitment, with which the scientist has represented the interests of the faculty in addition to his role as professor and researcher. Reimund Gerhard won numerous awards and honours during his scientific career. He was recently elected Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has been a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) since 1993.

Prof. Dr. Patrick O'Brien
Prof. Dr. Patrick O'Brien (Image: Karla Fritze)

His successor as Dean is the petrologist in the Institute for Earth and Environmental Sciences, Prof. Dr. Patrick O'Brien. He has been Professor in Petrology at Potsdam University since 2000. O'Brien was the first German professor to be nominated a "Distinguished Lecturer" by the Mineralogical Society of America. His core research areas include deciphering processes in modern continental collision zones (such as the Himalayas) and fossil continental collision zones (such as Central Europe) using investigations into crystalline rocks.


Leibniz-Kolleg Potsdam honours young scientists

The publication prize and the special prize for natural scientists were awarded as part of the Leibniz College Potsdam held at Potsdam University.

Dr. Damaris Zurell, Meetu Verma, Dr. Erik Sperfeld
From left: Dr. Damaris Zurell, Meetu Verma, Dr. Erik Sperfeld (Photos: private)

Damaris Zurell won the prize for her excellent work on ecological modelling with the objective of predicting species distribution limits and population developments resulting from the pressures of land use and climate change. She is primarily concerned with ecological modelling, and especially with predicting species distribution limits and the anticipated population development resulting from by the pressures of land use and climate change.

Meetu Verma won the prize for three publications concerning horizontal velocity fields in the sun, which were published in the "Astronomy & Astrophysics" and "Astronomische Nachrichten" magazines. The jury was especially impressed that the scientist achieved excellent research results in the first year of her PhD, which she publicly presented and published. At the centre of her research was the decomposition of solar particles that have strong magnetic fields.

Dr Erik Sperfeld was awarded the special prize for outstanding achievement in the field of "Ecology and Global Change" in Berlin and Brandenburg 2012. During his PhD, the scientist focused on ecology and the feeding of freshwater organisms, in particular nutritional components such as omega 3 fatty acids and cholesterol. He looked at the interaction of food, ecology and global change and linked this with universal ecological concepts. He has published his research findings internationally.

((Captions)) Dr Damaris Zurell (Photo: private)
Meetu Verma (Photo: private)
Dr Erik Sperfeld (Photo: private)

Outstanding cellulose research

Prof. Hans-Peter Fink, Institute Director for the Fraunhofer IAP, receives an international award from the ACS

Dr. Hans-Peter Fink
Prof. Dr. H.-P. Fink (Photo: Manuela Zydor)

This year's "Anselme Payen Award" from the American Chemical Society ACS, Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division, is awarded to Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Fink, Institute Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm. The annually-awarded prize acknowledges outstanding contributions to research and chemical technology of cellulose and related products. It is the most important internationally recognised award in the field of cellulose research.

Cellulose is the most common renewable resource and is globally available. Cellulose does not melt and is not soluble in the usual solvents. This is why the chemical processing of cellulose into fibres, films or plastics poses a special scientific and industrial challenge. Starting with the basic idea of processing cellulose in a way that is similar to melting, Fink and his team was able to develop new and environmentally-friendly ways of creating high-strength, technical cellulose fibres. The award ceremony will be at the ACS Spring Conference in New Orleans from 7 to 11 April 2013 as part of an honorary symposium.


The Potsdam-Golm Science Park

Development and prospects from the site manager's viewpoint

Friedrich Winskowski
Managing director Friedrich Winskowski (Photo: Karoline Wolf)

The site management has become a familiar contact point for the neighbours in the Potsdam-Golm Science Park and for many external interested parties. "PS" talks with site manager Friedrich Winskowski about his tasks and objectives.

Mr Winskowski, you are the managing director of Standortmanagement-Golm GmbH (StaGo GmbH). How would you describe your field of activity?
F. Winskowski: StaGo GmbH focuses on developing and opening up the entire Potsdam-Golm Science Park. We want to create the best framework conditions so that the local university institutes, the Fraunhofer and Max Planck institutes, and start-ups and companies for research-led production can set up or develop here. During our initial intensive discussions with the on-site institutions, we agreed that the site management should perform the tasks of infrastructure optimisation, non-scientific communication and marketing of the site. In the meantime, extremely positive cooperation has evolved in these areas - both in terms of mutual commitment and to a financial extent. On top of that, we have support from the City of Potsdam, which has even doubled its contribution in the second funding phase.

"Site management" is often associated with the GO:IN technology centre. Are you connected to it?
F. Winskowski: People often make that assumption. Although our three-member team is based at GO:IN and is centrally and easily accessible there to anyone who needs to contact us, we are not responsible for operating GO:IN. We are concerned with the wider environment. We use our subsidiary, GO:Incubator, to advise entrepreneurs and SMEs. Of course, this also includes companies from GO:IN.

The site management has existed for almost four years now. What have been your favourite projects over that time?
F. Winskowski: Initially we were concerned with creating an identity for the "Science Park" umbrella brand, a "key visual". Our colourful "(φ)" logo can be associated with different dimensions in natural sciences as well as with the Science Park on both sides of the railway line. It is suitable for our homepage and also for printed products. We also enjoyed the day-care project that we initiated and supported. From the request for proposal through to the end phase, there was constructive cooperation between all institutes, the university and the student union. With the Fröbel "Springfrosch" kindergarten, young parents at the site now have a bilingual, needs-based facility with high educational standards. Our desire for additional, modern student housing struck a chord with Mrs Bänsch, head of the student union, so that this plan was realised very quickly. A second building of this quality would further relieve the situation in the student housing market in Golm.

Which do you think are the most urgent projects for the near future?
F. Winskowski: Above all, we urgently need a master plan for this site so that we do not get bogged down with individual projects; we need a master plan that addresses not only construction opportunities, but also incorporates content-related, social issues.

The first steps to promoting social integration are our language courses for foreign scientists and their partners, as well as the PICC (Potsdam International Community Center; d.Red.) with the International Women's Group. An attractive site also involves a residential area where high-calibre experts and international scientists feel comfortable and which supports student life. Here we have to be critically aware that planning is not too bureaucratic. With our target group, for example, a tram line will not necessarily promote mobility. The shopping centre promised for 2009 is long overdue.

Incidentally, the town council has a draft resolution for developing Golm that covers all of these aspects.

So do you see the future as a site with a rather rural charm?
F. Winskowski: Not at all, and in any case, 70% of the students come from Berlin and the surrounding area. Together with the employees from the institutes and SMEs, 12,500 commuters come here every day. Without a reliable and direct connection between Golm and Berlin, it would be difficult to attract investors and experts. The overloaded route via Wannsee is not sufficient, and this connection is also too long for national links, such as with the ICE train. A route via Spandau is ideal, preferably as part of a ring concept: Berlin Hbf-Spandau-Golm-Potsdam-Berlin Hbf.

There are several science parks in Berlin and in Brandenburg. Why should start-up companies opt for Potsdam-Golm?
F. Winskowski: That's a good question since not all of these locations work under the same conditions. Our offering therefore has to be different. Adlershof, for example, was given completely different capital resources. In Brandenburg, consultation for establishing companies from R&D does not take place on site, but centrally at the Brandenburg Economic Development Board (ZAB). In site management, we do not have any material possibilities nor our own capital to support this process. Even the distribution of funds varies between regions, so Luckenwalde and Potsdam belong to disadvantaged regions for EU funding. Nevertheless, Golm's spatial proximity to the university and the institutes of the two research companies means that it has an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and scientific enthusiasm. This is a powerful motivation for creative, research-led start-up companies. This structure also entails high-tech equipment, which cannot be taken for granted.

Where do you see the Potsdam-Golm science park in 10 years?
F. Winskowski: "Golm" is already highly rated in the international science community. In ten years, the name "Golm" will hopefully also stand for high-quality production. In the meantime, an additional 14 ha have been allocated to research-led production and investors have been found for this and for the urgently-needed new technology centre. During this time, additional innovative and future-proof workplaces will have been created here. The railway connection to Berlin will have been optimised in the meantime; investors can rely on a solution-based, concentrated and fast implementation, from concept to completion; larger neighbours already based here will appreciate consistent framework conditions in the face of changes in political structure. They are currently incurring costs running to millions due to a change of the network operator after our incorporation into Potsdam.

If the state takes the existing opportunities, then we will have a good chance to turn an internationally competitive location for science and for research-led production in Brandenburg into a reality. I'm certain that the former rural community of Golm will become a more attractive district of the state capital Potsdam.
Thank you very much for talking to us!


Sustainable living

New home for 200 students

Director Karin Bänsch shows Science Minister Sabine Kunst the new residential complex
Director Karin Bänsch shows Science Minister Sabine Kunst the new residential complex. Cora Lindner and Markus Ehle, both studying at Potsdam University, live in this two-room apartment. (Photo: Ilka Lehmann)

The first 150 tenants moved into the new residential complex at Mühlenteich for the 2011/12 winter semester. However, long drying times following water damage meant that the ground floor only became available to rent at the start of the summer semester. The new living space for 200 students at the Golm centre for science and education was also officially handed over at this time.

The new residential complex offers optimal study conditions directly located at the Golm Science Park and right next to the Golm Campus of Potsdam University. 160 one-bedroom apartments, of which 4 are equipped for handicapped use, are now available. An additional 20 two-bedroom apartments (52 m2) are especially suitable for students with children. The "warm" rent including bills for the furnished one-bedroom apartments is € 270, and € 220 per room for the two-bedroom apartments. Two event or communal rooms can be used in the building, and outside there are sports facilities, a barbecue area, and seats for meeting up.

Almost all students deal with the topic of "sustainability" during their studies. Accordingly, there is a 300 m² large photovoltaic system on the building's roof, which has been feeding electricity into the network since August 2011. In a grey water treatment system, waste water from showers and washbasins with low pollution levels is retained using a special recovery system for use as grey water. This water is used to flush the toilets.

The total building cost of €9.5 million was provided from funds of the economy package II by the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture in the state of Brandenburg.

Vivid inks, artificial implants, powerful bioplastics

Opening of the "Application Centre for Innovative Polymer Technologies" at the Fraunhofer IAP

rom left: Hans-Peter Hiepe, MinR BMBF; Prof. Hans-Peter Fink, Institutsleiter Fraunhofer IAP; Prof. Sabine Kunst, Ministerin MWFK; Prof. Ulrich Buller, Vorstand der Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Christoph Nagel-Hirschauer, Architekten- büro SSP; Jann Jakobs Oberbürgermeister Potsdam
Eröffnung des Anwendungszentrums für Innovative Polymertechnologien am Fraunhofer IAP. From left: Hans-Peter Hiepe, MinR BMBF; Prof. Hans-Peter Fink, Institutsleiter Fraunhofer IAP; Prof. Sabine Kunst, Ministerin MWFK; Prof. Ulrich Buller, Vorstand der Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Christoph Nagel-Hirschauer, Architekten- büro SSP; Jann Jakobs Oberbürgermeister Potsdam. (Picture: Mario Hoffmann (c) Fraunhofer IAP)

On 12 June 2012, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP opened the "Application Centre for Innovative Polymer Technologies" in the presence of Brandenburg Science Minister Prof. Sabine Kunst and Fraunhofer Board Member Prof. Ulrich Buller. The institute was also celebrating its 20th anniversary.

children’s research area
Application Centre for Innovative Polymer Technologies

The second expansion phase of the Institute – the "Application Centre for Innovative Polymer Technologies" – was finished on time for the anniversary. State-of-the-art devices open up new possibilities for scientists in Golm. So, for example, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) can be created for the first time on the pilot plant scale, that is, under near-industrial conditions. "The application centre provides us with excellent conditions for implementing materials and technologies quickly, from the idea through to market maturity," says the Director of the Fraunhofer IAP, Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Fink. The researchers also want to develop new types of implant materials for ophthalmology and dentistry. Not only do these materials have to be biocompatible, they also have to be mechanically and chemically stable. Their interaction with human body tissue should also be investigated intensively using cell cultures. Biotechnological processes are also being developed in the application centre so that renewable resources such as starch, cellulose or lignin can be used more efficiently in future. This should allow biopolymers to be derived from the residues of agriculture and forestry with the help of newly developed enzyme systems.

The building and initial equipment costs to the amount of € 23.3 million are being funded 50% by the EU regional fund EFRE, and 25% each by the state of Brandenburg and the Federal Government. The second construction phase of the Fraunhofer IAP creates lab- and office-space for 94 newpositions for scientists and technicians.

Park ‘n’ Life

One night cleverer

Record visitor numbers during the "Long Night of Science"

A week of celebration

With 24,000 visitors, Potsdam University set new records for the "cleverest night of the year". After 5pm, inquisitive visitors flocked to the various events on the Golm campus, including lectures, films and – especially popular – numerous opportunities to get involved. The new information, communication and media centre in Golm opened up to visitors for the first time. The modern library hosted a reading festival, presenting its vast range of books and inviting all interested readers, not just students and scientists, to use them. Many people waited patiently for the clouds to clear so they could get a glimpse of the starry sky. Standortmanagement GmbH's stand had an international flavour with exotic dishes and the latest African hairstyling trends to try out. The two Fraunhofer Institutes were also involved. In the "Creating Plastics - It Can be Done Without Oil!" lecture, IAP scientist Dr Ganster presented plastics that are not based on fossil fuels. Cellulose, maize or castor oil can be used as the source materials here. The Fraunhofer researchers explained how identity cards can be protected against counterfeiting, and printed security features for the visitors. They also showed how you can create your own solar cells, manufactured the material from which foam is made, and bounced putty. Finally, the visitors could press their own shopping trolley chip made of bioplastic. Fraunhofer IBMT presented biocapsules and their significance in telemedicine, and learning to read and write in Egyptian hieroglyphics was obviously much more fun than in school. There was a lively music program in the courtyard in case so much science became overwhelming; if not, you could take the bus to another of the 6 locations in Potsdam.


Inaugural lectures of the Mathematics and Natural Sciences faculty in summer semester 2012

The inaugural lectures will take place at Golm University Campus, Building 25, Room F1.01 at 17.30.


Prof. Dr. Annegret Thieken
Professor in Geography and Research into Natural Hazards
Institute for Earth and Environmental Sciences
"Learning from natural disasters: from damage to preemptive action"


Prof. Dr. Andreas Taubert
Professor in Supramolecular Chemistry and Anorganic Hybrid Materials
Institute for Chemistry
"From laboratory to tooth - growth control of calcium phosphate"


Prof. Dr. Ralf Metzler
Professor in Theoretical Physics
Institute for Physics and Astronomy
"What Einstein and Perrin didn't know: from diffusion, ageing and ergodicity"