Research in the field of polymeric materials is often motivated by complex demands of modern applications. Polymeric materials offer various structural parameters on different levels to adjust their properties and functions: the chemical structure of the repeating units, their chain segment length in polymer network architectures, and the (self-)assembly of macromolecules on the supramolecular level.
Multifunctional materials can be designed as hybrid structures (e.g. (nano)composites, block cpolymers, blends, protein-polymer hybrids, fibrillar or multilayer constructs), in which distinct phases separately or synergistically contribute to the overall performance. These hybrid structures can be further enhanced by the possibility of an hierarchical organization of the structural constituents at various length scales ranging from the molecular to nano-, micro- or even the macro lengthscale, by employing modern processing techniques such as 3D-printing.
Multifunctionality of materials may be realized through a biological inspiration of their structure and interactions; or through the presence of natural or biologically active components, e.g. in biobased polymers (such as programmable DNA nanostructures); or via a complex but controlled physical behavior, e.g. actively moving polymers (shape-memory effect, shape-changing capability).
Additional functions span through electrical/thermal conductivity, REDOX behavior, (bio)sensing, temperature-dependent behavior, bio-compatibility and/or degradability, bioresponsive drug delivery and self-healing capability.