Organic electronics to improve European quality of life
Energy hungry domestic appliances and electronics are a major burden on our environment. One EU-backed project, Naimo, is out to create new, more efficient, ways to manipulate and use nanomaterials in a range of energy-efficient applications and components.
The EU has dipped into its Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) budget to fund the Naimo Integrated Project, whose 22 partners are creating, in their words, the right “technological environment to develop a new sustainable industry of organic electronics to finally improve the quality of life of European citizens”.
|Creative logo of the Naimo integrated project investigating new self-organising multifunctional organic materials.|
Naimo – Nanoscale integrated processing of self-organising multifunctional organic materials – will put the almost €15 million in EU funding into developing cost- and energy-efficient processing and manufacturing methods for mounting nanomaterials onto flexible polymer films. Using what the researchers describe as direct printing methods (under solution-based, quasi-ambient conditions), these new composite materials can be used for a wide range of purposes, including flexible electronic circuits for electronic labels, electronic paper, solar cells, displays and sensors.
To do this, the four-year project has called on a range of professions, such as engineering, chemistry, physics and materials science, and enlisted the help of different organisations – i.e. universities, research centres, industrial partners, and small and medium-sized enterprises – from all over Europe.
“EU support for projects like Naimo will help ensure we will be the winners at the end of the [nanotechnology] race, not just early frontrunners,” Stuart Evans of Plastic Logic, a Naimo industrial partner, told CORDIS.
Immediate applications of their work, the team suggests, are in energy generation, electronics and sensing equipment (for health and safety) and possibly new types of solar cells, biosensors and environmentally friendly manufacturing methods to cut back on waste.
Meet a nanoscientist
Naimo’s well-designed website offers a handy overview of the project’s ambitions and activities. Unlike so many EU-backed project websites, whose content and message appear to target mostly consortium partners, Naimo’s has a decidedly outward-looking style. The Education section is particularly interesting, offering visitors the chance to ‘Meet a nanoscientist’ and to share their views on nanotechnology in the ‘Your opinion’ section.
According to the Eurobarometer’s 2001 poll, public awareness of nanotechnologies in Europe seems to be poor, the website notes. “It is extremely important to establish how society can control the development of nanotechnologies to maximise desirable outcomes and keep the undesirable ones to an acceptable minimum. We think that it is equally important to give correct information about present-day nanotechnology research and its possible applications,” it states.
The ‘Meet the nanoscientist’ section contains interviews with Naimo researchers, such as Giovanna Barbarella, who is a group leader at CNR, a project partner, and working in the field of material chemistry (synthesis, characterisation and application of new materials).
Naimo is actually an extension of two previous EU projects, funded under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5). The first was Mona Lisa, which developed new types of joined molecular nanostructures using lithography, and the second, Discel, investigated self-assembling and self-healing electronic devices based on mesomorphic discotic materials. The idea to create Naimo came out of a meeting of scientists at a nanomanufacturing and processing workshop in Puerto Rico over three years ago. The current FP6 project is coordinated by Professor Yves Henri Geerts of the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (BE).
CORDIS, project site and documents
Research Contacts page
Naimo in the Major Projects Library (FP6)Naimo websiteNaimo fact sheet (on CORDIS)CORDIS News article on Naimo (13 August 2004)