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Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung

The Institute’s origin is closely related to the history of polymer science at the University of Mainz. Its foundation on the campus of the Johannes Gutenberg University thus continues a living tradition. Since 1945, the university has been a center of basic polymer research with Professor G.V. Schulz (Physical Chemistry), Professor W. Kern (Organic Chemistry) and Professor H. A. Stuart (Molecular Physics) as the founding fathers of polymer research at Mainz. A center of excellence (Sonderforschungsbereich) "Chemistry and Physics of Macromolecules" was established in 1969 and was supported for 18 years by the German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

Today, the connections with the University are not only reflected in the high number of Diploma and Ph.D. students working with the Institute but is also manifested in cooperative research projects in the framework of the "Center of Materials Research" (Materialwissenschaftliches Zentrum). It is supported by the State government of Rhineland-Palatinate and by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. The Institute is also part of the center of excellence (SFB) 262 "Glassy State and Glass Transition of Non Metallic Amorphous Materials", which is supported by the German Science Foundation.

At present, the overall number of employees is 372, among which 82 are staff scientists and 166 are Ph.D. students. There are 91 visiting scientists and/ or postdocs.

The scientific work of the Institute is organized in research projects, scientists of different groups interact in an interdisciplinary way. The objectives of the Institute are directed towards the synthesis and exact physico-chemical characterization of macromolecular systems on the one hand and towards understanding the relationship between macroscopic and microscopic properties of polymeric materials on the other hand. Besides the analysis of known, technically important polymers, new materials with unconventional properties are investigated. New experimental and theoretical methods have to be developed to allow a better understanding of structure-property relationships to be obtained.


  • structure and dynamics of macromolecular systems (including polymer interfaces and polymer theory)
  • thermodynamics, phase transitions and critical phenomena (including the physics of polymer blends, block copolymers and glass transition phenomena)
  • supramolecular architecture of macromolecules (stiff macromolecules, liquid crystalline polymers, model membranes, ultrathin films, polymers at surfaces)
  • special physical properties (electrical conductivity, optics, deformation behavior of glassy polymers)
  • synthetic macromolecular chemistry (new synthetic methods, polymers with unconventional structures, systems of selective functionality, e.g. electrical or thermal conductivity, polysaccharides, solid polyelectrolytes)
  • methodological developments (solid state NMR spectroscopy, EPR spectroscopy, dielectric spectroscopy, nonlinear optics, surface plasmon optics, scanning probe microscopy, i.e. STM, AFM and SNOM, neutron and X-ray reflectometry, scattering methods including X-ray, neutrons and light electron microscopy, computational simulations)

There are several service groups that are working for all groups of the Institute though they are related to the different departments, such as polymer analysis; spectroscopy (NMR, optics), X-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, and computer services.

Cooperation with industry plays an important role, above all in projects of the materials research program of the Ministry of Science and Technology. This ministery also supports cooperation with German and European Research Centers:

  • ILL Grenoble (France)
  • Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany)
  • Saclay (France)
  • DESY Hamburg (Germany)

International cooperation includes renowned scientific institutes like RIKEN, Stanford Research Institute, Japan; Minerva Center at the Weizmann Institute, Israel; and ICS-CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), France.



Max-Planck-Institut für Polymerforschung

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