Laboratory for Functional Polymers

The Laboratory for Functional Polymers is devoted to the research and development at the forefront of novel organic materials and polymers with unique functional properties, designed for future technological applications. We explore transparent devices which are photosensitive in the near-infrared, which may be used in machine vision, light up-converter imaging devices, sensors or simply as energy harvesting foils. We rely on the class of polymethine dyes and organic salt semiconductors, which we synthesize in our laboratory. Understanding and controlling crystal growth and film formation are crucial to achieve our goals. Another key research topic of the laboratory focuses on the development and characterization of ultra-soft electromechanical actuators to be used in artificial muscles, stretchable sensing, haptic interfaces and energy harvesting. Our research is focused on increasing the dielectric constant by synthesizing polar elastomers as well as by introducing poleable elements for piezoelectric response. Using our skills in organic synthesis, we design organic building blocks for the targeted polymers incorporating tailored functional groups and fillers.

Our competences include chemical synthesis, chemical and physical characterization as well as thin film device fabrication using a wide number of printing and coating techniques. In Empa’s printing and wet coating competence centre we explore large scale processing of our developed materials. It is our aim to promote technology transfer and to participate in research and development projects with our industrial partners, taking advantage of our competences in polymer science and technology. We also offer services to our industrial customers in the field of polymer technology, failure analysis of plastics as well as chemical and physical analysis.


Some recent research highlights:

Jenatsch, S., et al. (2018). "Time-Dependent p-i-n Structure and Emission Zone in Sandwich-Type Light-Emitting Electrochemical Cells." ACS Photonics 5(4): 1591-1598.


Strassel, K., et al. (2018). "Squaraine Dye for a Visibly Transparent All-Organic Optical Upconversion Device with Sensitivity at 1000 nm." Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 10(13): 11063-11069.


Wang, L. et al. (2018). “Organic salt semiconductor with high photoconductivity and long carrier lifetime”. Advanced Functional Materials. 28, 1705724.


Ko, Y. S., et al. (2017). "An All-Organic Elastomeric Electret Composite." Advanced Materials 29(1): 160381.


Opris, D., (2017), “Polar Elastomers as Novel Materials for Electromechanical Actuator Applications.” Advanced Materials 30(5): 1703678.


Leclaire, N. A., et al. (2017). "Light Scattering Enhancement at the Absorption Edge in Dewetting Droplets of Cyanine Dyes." Advanced Optical Materials 5(5): 1600903.


Head of Laboratory


Isabella Gartmann
Tel- + 41 58 765 6073


Empa Materials Sience & Technology
Laboratory for Functional Polymers
Überlandstrasse 129
CH-8600 Dübendorf