Putting more nature on paper


Robinie (Robinia pseudoacacia) in Hanstedt und Struktur Kaempferol (c) Thünen-Institut/Mattias Rütze, Jörn Appelt
(© Thünen-Institut/Mattias Rütze, Jörn Appelt)

Biomimetic plasma polymers for the functionalization of paper

Plants protect themselves with various structures against moisture, predators and microorganisms. We are investigating how these structures can be produced on paper using biogenic precursor molecules and plasma polymerization.

Background and Objective

Against the background of steadily diminishing fossil resources and increasingly obvious environmental problems, paper finishing and use are also facing new challenges. The increasing use of renewable resources also leads to an increasing use of paper instead of petrochemical based materials, especially in the field of packaging but also as construction material.The aim of our research project is the surface application of biogenic precursor molecules on paper by means of plasma polymerization. The application of atmospheric pressure plasma technology and the incorporation of biogenic precursor molecules should enable complex, botanically inspired coating materials. This will provide paper with improved properties and make it available as a material for an expanded field of uses.



In the first step, potential precursor molecules and their extraction from biogenic sources are investigated in more detail using chemical-physical methods. Primarily supercritical fluids in the form of extractions or structure-degrading processes are used. In a next step, the fractions obtained are tested for their basic suitability for plasma polymerization. Suitable fractions are then tested on a larger scale on the real paper system. Afterwards the selected materials will be evaluated, also with regard to sustainability and recycling aspects. 


Our Research Questions

Which biogenic precursor materials are available and suitable for plasma polymerization?

Which chemical-physical processes can be used to obtain precursor molecules from biogenic materials in terms of selectivity and suitability for plasma polymerization?

How do biogenic plasma polymers influence the recyclability of paper as well as the recovery after its life cycle?

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Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Technische Universität Darmstadt
    (Darmstadt, Deutschland)
  • Fraunhofer-Institut für Schicht- und Oberflächentechnik [IST]
    (Göttingen, Deutschland)

Funding Body

  • Federal Ministry of Food und Agriculture (BMEL)
    (national, öffentlich)


5.2021 - 4.2024

More Information

Projekt type:
Project funding number: 2220HV017C
Funding program: FNR
Project status: ongoing