Prestigious START Price for Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Miriam M. Unterlass

Dr. Miriam M. Unterlass

Our CSO Miriam M. Unterlass has been awarded the START Prize, the highest recognition for junior scientists in Austria, for her work developing novel synthesis of high-performance polymers, which yield enhanced material properties.

The FWF START Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to different fields by young scientists and gives them substantial financial support their excellent scientific research.

Research Background

Organic high-performance materials, which are needed, for example, for batteries, photovoltaic systems and the filtration of exhaust gases, involve complex production processes. Nowadays they often require a lot of effort and the use of highly toxic additives while not providing the best properties the industry requires.

Dr. Unterlass heads a research group at the Institute of Materials Chemistry at TU Wien, which takes a different approach to producing high-performance polymers. She developed a novel type of polymerization: Hydrothermal polymerization (HTP). The process mimicks natural mineral formation processes that take place in the Earth’s crust. HTP is carried out in soley water – without toxic solvents or catalysts – and generates superior material properties.

Hydrothermal Polymerization

This process of hydrothermal Polymerization is radically new in the field of creating polymers. It has been patented and is the basis of UGPs operation. It can be used widely in different ways to create specific polymers for industrial use.

We work with high temperatures and high pressure, which is a very unconventional approach when it comes to the synthesis of organic structures. We have been able to demonstrate that this method can be used to create fully crystalline polymers with outstanding attributes that will redefine the high-performance polymer industry.

Dr. Miriam M. Unterlass

Dr. Unterlass found the inspiration for the basic concept behind the method in nature. Some precious stones are only formed at great depths in water reservoirs, where the temperature and pressure levels are very high. This is known as hydrothermal synthesis which previously has not been used for generating crystalline high-performance polymers.

Dr. Unterlass and her research team managed to produce large organic polymers using this approach and are now focusing on creating highly ordered, three-dimensional framework structures that will show outstanding properties and which will be applicable in a wide range of extreme environments such as aeronautics or microelectronics.

Scientific Background of Dr. Miriam M. Unterlass

Miriam Unterlass studied chemistry, chemical engineering and materials science in Würzburg, Southampton and Lyon. In 2011, she completed her PhD at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, before going on to work as a postdoctoral researcher at the ESPCI in Paris. She moved to the Institute of Materials Chemistry at TU Wien in December 2012, where she formed the `Advanced Polymer Materials’ junior research group, which she heads to this day. UGP materials is her first spin-out, but she is committed of seeing her research impact and improve the life of people outside the lab.


If you have questions about the exact plans of scientific research and it’s alignment with UGP materials strategy please do not hesitate to contact us.

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