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uni'wissen 01-2015

Prof. Dr. Ingo Krossing has served as director of the Institute of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry of the University of Freiburg since 2006. Before coming to Freiburg, he conducted research and taught in Canada, Karlsruhe, and Lausanne/Switzerland. He studied chemistry in Munich. He already received scholar- ships and several awards for his research while complet- ing his doctoral dissertation and habilitation thesis. Krossing is deputy chair of the Wöhler Association for Inorganic Chemistry, has served as scientific director of the Freiburg Academy of Science and Technology (FAST) since 2011, and was a fellow at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS). The main focus of his research is ionic systems including weakly coordinating anions. Photo: Sandra Meyndt versatile yet dangerous element: In its pure form, elementary fluo- rine gas, it is toxic. The same is true of the highly corrosive com- pound hydrogen fluoride, known in its aqueous form as hydro- fluoric acid. It is created during many reactions involving fluoride compounds. “If you burn a ten- square-centimeter area of your skin with hydrogen fluoride and don’t have it treated, you’ll be dead with- in three days,” says Krossing. When hydrofluoric acid is used to burn glass, its surface becomes frosted, a method often used on champagne bottles. Other fluorine compounds damage the ozone layer, intensify the green- house effect, or release extremely toxic substances as soon as they catch flame. Last but not least, the hot- tempered element is prone to violent reactions. The lab is thus fitted with sensors that set off an optical and acoustic alarm when fluorine or hy- drogen fluoride do manage to escape. “We built the fluorine laboratory in accordance with the latest security guidelines,” Krossing stresses. Parallel to his work in the lab, he is developing microreactors with Prof. Dr. Peter Woias, professor for the design of microsystems at the University of Freiburg’s Department of Microsystems Engi- neering. Microreactors are two-by-two-centimeter chips with tiny dimples for chemical reactions. Industrial Partners The goal of all the experiments is to create fresh fluorine compounds to increase the life of lithium-ion batteries, better anions and cations, and new initiators and catalysts. The latter initiate or power reactions – in the industrial production of plastics, lubricants, dyes, coatings, and other products. Krossing has improved several such processes and reduced their ecological foot- print. His many partners include the chemistry companies Solvay and Merck, the medi- cine and security technology company Dräger, and IoLiTec, a company founded in the startup labora- tory of Freiburg’s BioTechPark in 2002 that produces ionic liquids. Krossing is receiving one of the European Research Council’s coveted Advanced Grants; the funding will run until 2017. The “protoelectric potential map” he developed with a part of the funding caused a sensation among experts. In addition, Krossing hopes to discover new fluorination methods – even just for the sake of knowledge. Indeed, his greatest dreams as a researcher are located beyond industrial applications. “I want to transcend chemical boundaries,” he says. He envisions entirely new compounds. In a project called “Anti-Salts,” which is receiving funding from the German Research Foundation, he plans to coat cations with Teflon for the first time ever. Krossing is eager to achieve what was previously impossible in other areas as well. “Fluorine is the most reactive element around,” he says: Nearly all other elements and substances bind with fluorine. The only two that do not are the noble gases helium and neon. Krossing would like to change that. Could this be a Nobel laureate in the making? The prospects are good: Five other winners of the Otto Klung–Weberbank Award ended up receiving the famous phone call from the Nobel Committee. f2-lab uni wissen 01 2015 Further Reading Radtke, V. / Himmel, D. / Pütz, K. / Goll, S. K. / Krossing, I. (2014): The protoelectric potential map (PPM): an absolute two-dimensional chemical potential scale for a global understanding of chemistry. In: Chemistry – A European Journal 20/15, pp. 4194–4211. DOI: 10.1002/chem.201302473 Hill, M. / Baron, P. / Cobry, K. / Goll, S. K. / Lang, P. / Knapp, C. / Scherer, H. / Woias, P. / Zhang, P. C. / Krossing, I. (2013): Direct fluorination of cyclic carbonates and closo-K2 [B12 H12 ] in a slug-flow ministructured reactor. In: ChemPlusChem 78/4, pp. 292–301. DOI: 10.1002/cplu.201200267 Lang, P. / Hill, M. / Krossing, I. / Woias, P. (2012): Multiphase minireactor system for direct fluorination of ethylene carbonate. In: Chemical Engineering Journal 179/1, S. 330–337. DOI: 10.1016/j.cej.2011.11.015 method s. e y nt h ca d n lass, ethod y 2 coveted run unthod run unt map” h s m- e n- in co company o co tory 42 Fluorine is a very versatile element: It is found in batteries, toothpaste, and every second agent approved for use in medicine. Photo: Oleksiy Mark, Dreaming Andy, WoGi, by-studio (all Fotolia) uni wissen 012015