Research topics in the field of materials science and engineering at the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin are carried out at several Faculties in the following Departments:
The Department of Nanomaterials Physicochemistry (Faculty of Chemical Technology and Engineering) conducts research work related to the development of technologies to obtain various types of nanomaterials for many applications. Such materials as carbon nanotubes, graphene, graphitic carbon nitride, hexagonal boron nitride, nanoparticles of metals and oxides are obtained and characterized. The group of materials, which for many years have been the focus of interest of the Department, includes nanometric carbon materials (nanotubes, nanospheres, graphene) and their functionalized forms with many possible applications, including energy storage (electrode material for lithium-ion batteries, supercapacitors and as hydrogen adsorbents), as conductive materials for construction of bio-sensors, adsorbents for pollutants (e.g. toxic organic compounds, dyes, etc.), as well as for the construction of bio-sensors. Among these materials, graphene is particularly interesting as a conductive material for the construction of bio-sensors, adsorbents for pollutants (e.g. toxic organic compounds, dyes and drugs) and as a catalyst carrier for the decomposition of pollutants (organic compounds and dyes) and hydrogen production. The unique properties of graphene have directed the interest of the Department's staff to other 2D nanomaterials that have a similar layer structure. These include molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4). Due to their unique structural features and exceptional properties, these materials have become key nanomaterials in materials engineering and chemical engineering. In addition, research is also being conducted to develop technologies for the production of low-cost nanomaterials for altering the properties of cement mortars towards improving their strength. Research on obtaining and characterizing the nanomaterials is carried out using the modern instrumental methods such as: transmission electron microscopy (TEM) with EDX elemental analyzer; scanning electron microscopy (SEM); spectroscopies: Raman, infrared, visible light, and ultraviolet; atomic absorption, or techniques to study mass changes as a function of temperature and atmosphere changes.
The Department of Catalytic and Sorbent Materials Engineering (Faculty of Chemical Technology and Engineering) carries out research on synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials, nanoporous activated carbons for gas adsorption, catalysts based on nanoporous carbon materials doped with metal nanoparticles and carbon nanospheres. Research is also conducted on synthesis of titanium-silicate catalysts by modification of minerals of natural origin as well as on synthesis and modification of photocatalysts based on titanium dioxide. An important area of research is also sorbents based on activated carbon and other materials for gas purification.
The Department of Polymer and Biomaterials Science (Faculty of Chemical Technology and Engineering) is focused on a wide range of topics related to the synthesis, characterization and practical application of synthetic and natural polymers. One of the main research areas is the development of new biodegradable polymers based on biobased materials as monomers for polycondensation and polyaddition reactions in the synthesis of polyesters, additionally modified with fatty acids and containing natural metabolites. Research is also conducted on synthesis of polyanhydrides or polyurethanes with potential use in formulation of micro/nano capsules as controlled release systems for drugs or fertilizers, micro/non-fibrous scaffolds for tissue engineering or disposable, biodegradable packaging for medical devices. Another area of interest of the Department is research on modification of chitosan towards new derivatives with antibacterial or mucosal properties with potential application in treatment of chronic diseases or cancer. In collaboration with the Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology, bacterial cellulose with excellent antibacterial and antiviral properties is being developed. Photocrosslinkable and hybrid polymeric elastomers that crosslink under UV light, are susceptible to degradation and exhibit adhesion to wet surfaces are being investigated for use in minimally invasive techniques, including myocardial tissue engineering, hernia or stretch mark reconstruction. Another research area is focused on engineering materials - strong and rigid (nano)composite materials based on thermoplastic polymers or polymer blends (blends) with different reinforcing phases (fibers, plates or spheres) exhibiting complex morphological structures in which surfaces and interphases strongly influence the physical, electrical and mechanical properties of these materials. Research is also being conducted on the use of modern fabrication techniques such as 3D printing, electrospinning or electrospraying to construct advanced structures that mimic the highly complex and functional objects found in nature. The realization of such wide research topics is possible due to modern equipment for the synthesis and modification of polymers and for characterization of their chemical structure (IR, UV-VIS, HPLC), thermal (DSC, DMTA), mechanical and rheological properties. An important research tool is fluorescence microscopy used for visualization of biological objects and observation of interfacial phenomena in different materials.
The Department of Microbiology and Biotechnology (Faculty of Biotechnology and Animal Husbandry) conducts research on biosynthesis, modification, analysis of properties and search for new applications for bionanocellulose - cellulose produced by bacteria. In particular, new methods of producing and modifying materials based on bionanocellulose are developed. The possibility of using bionanocellulose as a carrier to immobilize bioactive substances and microorganisms with biotechnological potential is analyzed. Methods of modification of dressing materials based on bionanocellulose to prevent their colonization by pathogenic microorganisms and to facilitate eradication of bacterial biofilms are studied. The research on analyzing the possibility of using bionanocellulose materials to produce biodegradable, antibacterial and antiviral filters for use in protective masks and air purification systems is also carried out. Magnetic carriers based on bionanocellulose for immobilization of enzymes of industrial importance are being developed.
The Department of Organic Chemical Technology and Polymer Materials (Faculty of Chemical Technology and Engineering) conducts research on modification of biopolymers and their technical applications, physical modification of polysaccharides with biodegradable plasticizers, including development of new technical applications of polysaccharide-based materials (in adhesives, coatings, etc.). Work is also being carried out on micro- and nanocomposites based on polysaccharides, thermo- and duroplastic polymers, containing 2D mineral and natural nanofillers (montmorillonite, halloysite). Research is also conducted on encapsulating materials for artificial fertilizers and works on the production and characterization of electroconductive, anticorrosive, flame retardant/swelling varnishes, paints and coatings. Modification of biopolymers, including starch copolymers and starch nanocomposites for sorption applications towards superabsorbents (sorption of water, aqueous solutions and ions), flocculants for water and wastewater treatment is also carried out. Research is also conducted on the synthesis and properties of condensation polymers, especially multiphase block systems based on polyesters and polyamides, analysis of the phase composition of copolymers based on Hansen's method and Hoftijzer and van Krevelen's method - simulation of three-dimensional areas of mutual miscibility of blocks, determination of solubility parameters of complex polymer systems.
The Department of Materials Technology (Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics), conducts the research on modern surface engineering technologies for special applications. The aim of this work is to develop surface engineering technologies that increase durability of machine parts and technical equipment, and provide new functional properties. The research areas include: a) diffusion treatment of steel improving its mechanical properties. The work concerns nitriding and carbonitriding of steel, including corrosion-resistant steel. The treatment is aimed at increasing tribological resistance and hardness while maintaining high corrosion resistance; the research is conducted on the so-called low-temperature treatment. A special aspect of the research is activation of the surface by diffusion treatment; b) deposition by magnetron sputtering of coatings increasing tribological wear resistance and scratch resistance of austenitic steel surface with simultaneous anti-microbial resistance; The works concentrate on coatings based on so called S-phase of high hardness and corrosion resistance; c) production of diffusion layers on the basis of silicides and aluminides by the suspension method, aiming at the increase of resistance to high temperature oxidation of such materials as alloy steels, titanium alloys, molybdenum alloys or nickel alloys; d) production of thin functional coatings by methods of pulsed laser and electron beam ablation. Composite coatings with polymer and carbon matrix on steel and polymer substrates are produced. The research is aimed at investigating mass transport mechanisms, physico-chemical phenomena and the formation of coatings, especially composite ones, under conditions of high-energy beam ablation as well as the phenomena accompanying the interaction of the coating with the substrate, especially polymeric. In the area of surface engineering, the cooperation is carried out with Koszalin University of Technology, Institute of Metallurgy and Materials Science of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Cracow and Lodz University of Technology, as well as with foreign centers, such as National Institute for Research and Development for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics from Romania, Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography from the Netherlands and University of Sheffield from Great Britain. The main industrial partner is the company SECO/WARWICK from Świebodzin. Another area of the Department's research activity is the design and fabrication of nanostructured ceramic composites, including mechanisms for the synthesis of nanostructured materials in the form of powders and ceramic coatings from the B-Mo-Si-Ti-C-N system. The synthesis of these materials is based on an original non-hydrolytic sol-gel method. Research is also conducted into the fabrication of metallic composites reinforced with nanocrystalline powders such as TiC/C, TiC, TiC-SiC-Si3N4, TiC-TiB2-B4C, TixMo1-xC. The current research focuses on the consolidation of titanium powders with nc-TiC, nc-MoC and nc-TixMo1-xC by selective laser metallurgy (SLM) and spark plasma sintering (SPS). These studies include the effects of molybdenum proportion, elemental carbon, sintering process parameters and porosity on the microstructure, morphology, mechanical and tribocorrosion properties of the composites and their surface layers. Tests of strength, susceptibility to brittle fracture, abrasive wear, Young's modulus and corrosion in aggressive environments are carried out. This research is conducted in cooperation with the Lukasiewicz Institute of Metal Forming - Research Network, National Centre for Nuclear Research in Świerk, Department of Silicate Chemistry and High Molecular Compounds of Stanisław Staszic AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków, Koszalin University of Technology, GeniCore Company, the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Technology, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus - Senftenberg, Cottbus, Germany, Department of Physics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. Another area of activity of the Department are multiphase polymer systems including preparation of new multiphase polymer systems with plant-derived monomers (e.g. 2,5-furanedicarboxylic acid (FDCA) and 2,5-thiophenodicarboxylic acid (TDCA)) showing functional properties similar to their "classical" counterparts. Special attention is paid to the preparation of ester copolymers with the features of thermoplastic elastomers. The work also includes the study of the relationship between the chemical structure, supermolecular structure, and physical and functional properties of new materials. Joint research projects are conducted in collaboration with industrial partners. The work carried out in this area is innovative in nature and involves the development of structural materials with new functional characteristics. Much of this work is also of applied nature and is of interest to such industrial units as TELEFONIKA-KABLE S.A., BORYSZEW-ELANA S.A., MABO Sp. z o.o., Nicrometal S.A., ELPAR ). The team also has significant achievements in the development of conditions for obtaining new polymeric materials and technologies of polymeric waste management as well as designing of injection moulds.