Doris Vollmer

Coordinator of the EU-funded Innovative Training Network (ITN) on Lubricant Impregnated Slippery Surfaces (LubISS), Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

"How to design easy-to-clean surfaces"


Research on coating is greatly motivated by the emerging need for surfaces with low fouling and biofouling properties, tunable transparency, good anti-icing and improved heat transfer behavior. Approaches to tackle these challenges include superhydrophobic, superamphiphobic porous lubricant infused and liquid-like surfaces. In all cases, a deposited drop shows low adhesion to the underlying substrate and rolls or slides off when tilting the surface by a few degrees. First, I will discuss what these approaches do have in common, focusing on the advantages and challenges of the different strategies.

Next I will discuss lubricant infused slippery surfaces. Drops slide on these surfaces with almost zero static friction. However, a critical drawback of lubricant infiltrated surfaces is that the lubricant is removed with foreign objects or shear flow. Shear induced depletion seemed to be an insurmountable problem. Inspired by the
promising applications in food science, we demonstrate the formation of a slippery surface via the flow of an oil-in-water emulsion. Notably, flow is even required to form a lubricating layer. Our strategy of fabricating a flow induced but shear-resistant slippery surfaces is based on adhesion and merging of droplets.


Doris Vollmer studied physics at the Univ. of Bielefeld, the ETH Zürich (Switzerland) and the Univ. of Utrecht (Netherlands). During her PhD (Univ. of Basel) and habilitation (Univ. of Mainz) she investigated structural and thermodynamic transition in microemulsions and binary mixtures. For her contributions to microemulsions she was awarded the ‘H.-P. Kaufmann Preis’ by the German Society for Fat Science. 

During her Marie Curie Fellowship at the Institute of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (Great Britain), she investigated network formation in suspensions of liquid crystals and colloids. In 2002 she joined the group of Hans-Jürgen Butt at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPIP) and became group leader in May 2003. In 2015 she obtained a professorship at the Physics Department of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Since 2009 her research has been mainly concerned with fundamental and applied problems in the
wetting behavior of structured surfaces, in particular of superhydrophobic, superamphiphobic and slippery surfaces. Her work frequently combines synthesis of model structures, analysis of microscopic and macroscopic features with complementary experimental techniques and modeling by mean-field descriptions to gain a profound understanding of the central concepts of the wetting phenomenon under investigation. Currently, she is the coordinator of the EU-funded Innovative Training Network (ITN) on Lubricant Impregnated Slippery Surfaces (LubISS).