Researcher Highlight – Jonas Biggemann from Project D

In each project of our IRTG one doctoral researcher is supervised by a Principle Investigator. However, we also associate doctoral researchers and postdoctoral researchers in many of our projects. For example, Jonas Biggemann has been associated in the Project D – Additive Manufacturing of Cellular Lead-Free Ceramics led by PI Dr. Tobias Fey until recently.

 How did you become a part of the IRTG program?

I moved to Erlangen to study Material Science and Engineering at the FAU, with initial ulterior motives to return back to my home state as soon as possible. Instead, I started working as a scientific assistant in the group of Dr. Ing. Tobias Fey at the Institute of Glass and Ceramics (WW3) in 2012 and ever since continued my journey specializing on ceramic materials during my masters. As part of my master thesis, I had the opportunity to join the laboratory of Prof. Kenichi Kakimoto at NITech in Nagoya for a two-month research stay to perform Spark Plasma Sintering experiments. In 2017, I started working as PhD student on the development of modular ceramic implants for novel joint replacements supervised by Dr. Ing. Tobias Fey. During that period, I worked with many international and national students on the processing of various materials including piezoceramics, which became preliminary work for Project D of the IRTG program. For that reason, my supervisor asked me to join the IRTG as an associated researcher to share my experimental knowledge and assisting with the supervision of the doctoral candidate David Köllner.

 Tell us a little about your research.

My research focuses on the development of novel bone and joint replacements based on modular ceramic composites. Modular designing is the construction of large components from individual small building blocks (as you know from “LEGO”) and is also the procedure to generate the flexible energy harvesters of Project D. The modular approach allows to locally tailor the properties of the materials (here implants) by changing the utilized materials or the shape, size and position of the building blocks and thus multi-material composites can easily be realized. My research further focuses on the microstructural tuning and surface modification of the ceramic building blocks to optimize the biological and mechanical performance of the modular implants. The established working techniques and made observations represent preliminary work for the IRTG and can be directly transferred on the piezoelectric materials of project D. Supervising the experimental work of two master students from NITech (Noa Nagamatsu and Hina Sugimoto) we established the processing of piezoelectric ceramic building blocks made of BCZT, which are now used and elevated in project D.

 How was your experience at Nagoya Institute of Technology, Japan?

During my two-month research stay in the group of Prof. Kenichi Kakimoto (2016), I had the opportunity to gain my first insights into the working methods of another international university as part of my master’s thesis. The stay abroad was an incomparable and profitable life experience for me personally, which made me eager to visit Japan again. Besides publishing results of this valuable scientific collaboration, the research stay led to two further stays in Japan, during which I visited both my esteemed supervisor and my Japanese friends at NITech.

Working as a foreigner at a Japanese university is amazingly uncomplicated, as the short direct work routes and the courteous hospitality make it easy to find help for planned experiments. While some may fear the clichéd “unlimited working hours”, I encourage everyone to make up their own mind and try out everything as no one expects this from a guest student as long as you complete your usual tasks.

 What are your plans after graduation?

I successfully acquired a scholarship funded by the German Academic Exchange service (DAAD) for a half year research stay at the Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea. The aim of the research stay is to find optimal porosity and surface parameters to optimize the biological integration of the novel implant materials by performing cell colonization experiments. Afterwards I would like to remain true to academia and continue my scientific career as a postdoctoral researcher at university.