Background and Structure
A primary objective of the organizational structure of the Cluster is to establish an international focal point for interdisciplinary research related to fluid-solid interface design and application in the physical and engineering sciences. The Cluster will also act as a centre for knowledge transfer to industry, and, furthermore serve as an incubator for emerging technologies in which fluid interfaces and complex interfacial transport phenomena play a central role. These objectives will be achieved within the framework of the Center of Smart Interfaces, a proposed research entity within the university in which the Principal Investigators of the present proposal and newly hired faculty will interact with one another.
This Cluster of Excellence was proposed by 24 scientists from five different departments at the TU Darmstadt (Chemistry, Material Science, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Physics) and from four external research establishments (Institut für Mikrotechnik Mainz, Max-Planck-Institute for Polymer Research, Deutsches Kunststoffinstitut, Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Duability). Moreover, six new Research Professorships and three young researcher groups are filled:
- Reactive Flows and Diagnostics (Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Andreas Dreizler)
- Nano- and Microfluidics (Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Steffen Hardt)
- Computational Physical Chemistry (Prof. Dr. Nico van der Vegt)
- Mathematical Modeling and Analysis (Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Dieter Bothe, Prof. Dr. Jürgen Saal)
- Physics of Surfaces (Prof. Dr. Robert Stark)
- Drag and Circulation Control (Dr.-Ing. Sven Grundmann)
- Experimental Interface Physics (Dr. rer. nat. Elmar Bonaccurso)
- Electrochemistry and Nanocatalysis (PD Dr. rer. nat. Bernhard Kaiser)
- High Temperature Process Diagnostics (Dr. rer. nat. Steven Wagner)
The Scientific Program, as established at regular intervals in consultation with the Scientific Steering Committee, is realized through projects jointly defined and proposed by the participating professors and young researchers and is carried out largely through doctoral students. This research is accompanied by an ambitious Scientific Exchange Program, through which international colleagues are offered short and long-term visits to the Center. A limited number of salaried adjunct professorships (fellows) was made made available for leading scientists willing to spend longer periods at the Center at regular intervals.
The concept for transferring results from the Center of Smart Interfaces into applications includes a close partnership with numerous industries. Several instruments for cooperation have been well accepted by the industrial partners, including sponsorship of PhD students, collaborative research projects, and co-sponsoring of Young Researcher Groups.
The Technische Universität Darmstadt is wholly committed to this Cluster of Excellence initiative and offers, as an autonomous university, an excellent administrative environment for attracting and keeping outstanding young researchers, including fast-track appointments and a flexible salary scale. The university funds a new building to house the Center of Smart Interfaces, including an interim solution during the initial phase. Furthermore, the long-term transfer of the new professorships into the university system has been confirmed. The university has pledged support for ten PhD students per year at the Center of Smart Interfaces.