Customized surfaces play a significant role in many areas of everyday life especially when it comes to, for example, optical, antimicrobial, and tribological applications. To turn these ideas into products for applications as quickly as possible, not only should the scientific effort in basic research be increased but also the development of new manufacturing processes. It is precisely in this environment that the DGM Expert Committee Functionalization of Surfaces by Micro- and Nano Patterning Techniques is to be deployed, pooling the expertise and activities of materials researchers in this and related fields.
Structured bearing treads for friction reduction, antimicrobial copper surfaces, or biocompatible coatings with titanium dioxide: Customized surfaces play an important role in many areas of everyday life - especially when it comes to optical, antimicrobial, or friction-related ("tribological") applications. They range from automotive and aircraft construction to the food industry, medical technology, and biotechnology - and the product range is growing all the time. Intelligently functionalized surfaces are therefore of crucial economic and social importance.
In recent decades, research has gained numerous insights in the micro- or nanometer range. New fields of application can be expected here soon. Based on its experience in mechanical engineering, Germany has gained a leading position worldwide in this field. It is important to secure and expand this position - also concerning new jobs associated with this field. After all, competition from the USA and the rest of Europe is fierce.
To translate the new findings in the field of functionalized surfaces into products for application as quickly as possible, the next few years should not only see an increase in scientific effort in basic research. The development of new manufacturing processes for two- and three-dimensional models are also of central importance. Here, the focus must be broadened from functional principles to production methods.
Also, the currently still very high costs of producing functional surfaces using micro- or nano-structuring processes must be greatly reduced. The first steps have already been taken here, but these are still far from sufficient. In particular, intelligent approaches are needed to help secure scientific and technological competitiveness, also in international comparison.
To identify the coming needs, there is a need for greater cooperation between science and the German industry, as well as research projects that bring together basic research and application - for example in the form of priority programs of the German Research Foundation (DFG). Government research sponsors such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) or the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) are also in demand here.