Delft University of Technology and the University of North Carolina are researching nanofillers like nanotubes and graphene in high performance polymers. We talk to professor Theo Dingemans and find out what we can expect from these nanofillers.

Professor Theo Dingemans recently moved from the Delft University of Technology, where he was the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Professor of Chemistry and Aerospace engineering, to the University of North Carolina. “I got the chance to help set up a new department here: Applied Physical Sciences,” he explains. “Our group within this new department looks at high performance plastics, so: polymers with high strength and temperature resistance. These polymers already have very good properties, but we try to improve them by adding nanofillers.”

It is the first time in forty years that the University of North Carolina is setting up a new department, including a fully equipped new building. For starters, five professors will be installed this year. “It is great being a part of that,” professor Dingemans says. “It was an opportunity I could not pass up.”

In America there are more groups working in the field, more funding agencies and more links to companies. So it is easier there to collaborate and get funds than in the Netherlands. “The focus of our department is on doing science but also on bringing it into real world applications,” professor Dingemans says. “So developing new things but also finding investors for them and getting them into start-ups and existing industries.” He will keep working with his group at Delft University which carries out research in the same field and has its own unique merits. “Delft is very good at mechanical testing,” professor Dingemans explains.

They have been experimenting a lot with carbon nanotubes. But nowadays they are turning their focus more and more toward graphene and graphene oxide.

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