Habilitation award winners 2018: PD Dr. Karsten Müller
Institute of Separation Science and Technology
What was the subject of your habilitation thesis?
There are generally a large number of approaches that can be used to (further) develop technology. However, not all of them have a great deal of potential. The aim, therefore, is to identify which approaches really have potential and which of them have little scope for development. Firstly, my habilitation thesis deals with how to identify approaches to research that have potential. The next step involved using the findings from this analysis in order to obtain improved processes in a targeted manner. The discovery of improved charge materials in energy processes in particular was an important theme.
What excites you the most about your research?
A significant element in my research toolkit is thermodynamics. This is often an unpopular discipline among students, as its strengths lie in making statements about processes long before they can actually become reality. This opens up exciting fields in research, and when the results confirm these predictions, often years later, it’s a great feeling.
Which difficulties did you encounter during your habilitation and how did you overcome them?
Sometimes, the problems that occur in research ultimately become the really exciting questions. The initial aim of my work was to develop the best charge materials for chemical energy processes. But sometimes you end up hitting a wall. There are just too many paths you could take. Which path really does have the potential to help you achieve your goal? That was the point where I really started to think about this question. This ultimately became one of the most important aspects of my work.
To which extent has your research changed you and your view of the world?
Research needs an analytical eye to answer the questions it raises. This also influences your view on other things (including yourself) at some point. In my opinion, this systematic, analytical eye is perhaps the most valuable thing that one can learn from research. This applies way beyond the limits of science.
What’s next – for you and your field of research?
In my area of research, there are not only a huge number of fields that are worth investigating. New questions are always emerging, not least due to the energy reform. This is especially true if you look further than the limits of one single application and consider the bigger picture. There is still a great deal of work to be done and I hope that I can be a part of it as a researcher.
Thank you very much for the interview, Dr. Müller.