I-7   Dr. Mattias Schmidt, Procter & Gamble

Science behind consumer products: Physics, Chemistry and Modeling of Diapers and Superabsorbers

Dr. Mattias Schmidt*

*Research Fellow – Victor Mills Society, Procter & Gamble Service GmbH, Sulzbacher Str. 40, 65824 Schwalbach am Taunus, Germany – www.pg.com ↗

Research and Development (R&D) for consumer products such as baby diapers is often considered a pretty trivial field for scientists or engineers leaving university. The stereotype of “Consumer goods are simple to use – therefore they are simple to understand” is a common pitfall. Having joined P&G by chance myself I found – much to my surprise – the contrary: An exciting field for me as a scientist combining tremendous learning opportunities with the excitement of seeing new technologies in consumer hands. In fact, innovation and fundamental understanding is so critical for the success at P&G, that we have a dual career system that enables specializing as technology expert. I will use my own expertise area – fluid flow and absorbent gelling materials (superabsorbers) in baby diapers – as example.

Unlike in geosciences where the pore structure is typically relatively stable during fluid flow, the materials used for consumer products are soft and can deform due to wet collapse or external conditions; and adjacent materials have a large contrast of key parameters. In addition, swelling of materials such as super-absorbers leads to very large dimensional changes of the pore structure during the fluid transport. This poses a range of challenges both for the development of the theory as well as for the physical characterization methods. In addition, there are many physico-chemical and synthetic challenges in the design, understanding and making of polymer networks that serve as superabsorbers – some examples will be given.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Mattias Schmidt is a Research Fellow and member of the Victor Mills Society. As a member of the Victor Mills Society he is one of the few recognized top level innovators globally in P&G and currently the only member of the society in Europe. Dr. Schmidt joined P&G Baby Care R&D (Pampers) with a PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) in Physics from University of Leipzig and has worked in the area of fluid flow, diffusion and partitioning, diaper design and material development since joining in 1991. Dr. Schmidt holds well over 160 patent applications and more than 60 granted patents. His innovations have significantly contributed to make Pampers the largest brand of Procter & Gamble and a world leader for baby diapers. He has more than 20 years of experience in leading and creating new innovation, developing new technologies and associated capability as well as bringing new technologies to the market. Dr. Schmidt is an expert in modeling and simulation and is a co-founder of the International Society for Porous Media (www.Interpore.org) which is a society promoting the collaboration and scientific exchange between academia and industry in the area of porous media.

About P&G

Procter & Gamble’s purpose is to provide products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers. We are a global manufacturer of consumer good products with worldwide operations in more than 80 countries, selling about 300 brands in more than 160 countries and significant investment in Research and Development.

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