How to send your input? Just email us at RTD-NMP-MATERIALS@ec.europa.eu.
Scientists, industrialists, citizens, students are invited to send us their suggestions about targets for materials research that should be addressed under Horizon 2020, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020). Inputs can address all the factors of success of the materials research and innovation value chain, e.g. suggest new research topics that you would like to see opened for funding, technological or non technological bottlenecks that need to be solved, etc.
© picture : freshidea - Fotolia.com
The first five inducement prizes of Horizon2020 have been announced, including the ambitious prize for material solutions to reduce air pollution. In the EU, average life expectancy is estimated to be decreased by 8,6 months because of exposure to air pollution resulting from human activities. The inhalation of particulate matter can also lead to adverse effects in the respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, and neural systems. In addition to its impact on human health, particulate matter can also have adverse effects on climate change and ecosystems.
The Clean Air Prize is expected to promote competition on the development of innovative, affordable, sustainable and design-driven material solutions that can effectively remove or prevent the formation of particulate matter in urban areas in order to win a prize bursary of 3 million euro. The contest will be launched early 2015 and will run until 2018.
The rules of the contest will be published on the participant portal soon before the official launch for registration, early in 2015.
© picture : nerthuz #52753651. Source: Fotolia.com
The European Commission has launched a survey to develop a research and innovation roadmap and answer the challenging question: "Which Materials for Sustainable Construction?"
The aims of the survey are to:
- identify and prioritise research and innovation needs for new advanced materials meeting the challenges and the new legislations for sustainable and competitive construction,
- propose solutions to overcome barriers to exploitation and deployment of research results in the construction industry.
This survey will complete the work previously done by several EU-wide initiatives, particularly the SET Plan 2011 and the
Energy-Efficient Buildings PPP roadmap 2013; it concentrates on materials and extends the findings to construction as a whole, including infrastructures.
If you are an expert in this field, you are invited to participate in this on-line survey, which will be open from now on until 30 September 2014.
The results will be presented at a conference planned early 2015. A final report should be issued mid-2015.
In the health field, biomaterials are examples of Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and become a whole or part of a living structure or biomedical device with the objective of performing, augmenting, or replacing a natural function. Given their importance of these entities to human health and well being, biomaterials research in Europe needs to be carried out as part of and all along the value chain, starting in the laboratory and ending in the clinic. The resulting strategic roadmap emanates from a series of workshops held by the Commission over the last 18 months with a broad range of stakeholders from the biomaterials research community. It proposes a series of general strategic measures, covering diverse areas such as research policies for biomaterials deployed in different body systems, education and training, regulatory affairs and improved financial instruments, including for the Small and Medium sized Enterprise community, so as to meet the challenges in this potentially highly innovative research area.
For more information see here (PDF version 1,08MB). Comments and suggestions are welcome.
The EU project CRM_InnoNet intends to create an integrated community that will drive innovation in the field of Critical Raw Material substitution. The scarcity of Critical Raw Materials, together with their economic importance for EU industry, makes it necessary to explore new avenues towards their possible substitution to reduce the EU’s consumption and decrease the relative dependence upon imports.
The project will organise its second workshop in the field of substitution of critical raw materials. Special focus will be given to strategic sectors such as Energy, Transport and ICT with the presence of key-speakers as well as participatory activities.
The event is open to all stakeholders who are involved in the whole value chain of Critical Raw Materials and willing to exchange ideas and visions for enhancing the competitiveness of the EU R&D&I, industry and economy in the area of substitution of Critical Raw Materials.
The Workshop will take place on 14 May 2014 at the Diamant Conference & Business Centre, 80 Bd. A. Reyers LN - 1030 Brussels.
Registration and more info are available here.
© picture : PHOTOSENS. Source: www.photosens.eu
Researchers working within the FP7 European Union project PHOTOSENS www.photosens.eu have succeeded in developing low-cost, mass-producible nanophotonic sensors for air quality, pharmaceutical process cleanliness and food safety applications based on functionalised polymer materials.
Roll-to-roll mass manufacturing is one of the key technologies in low-cost disposable photonic sensor production. The novel technology is expected to open new business opportunities, especially for SMEs.
EuroNews featured an article on innovation in nanotechnology for the restauration of old and valuable works of art, fragile artifacts which the passing of time has affected. That is caused by degradation of calcium carbonate, a fundamental constituent of many works of art.
Within the NanoForArt project, scientists from several European countries have created a cleaning gel in which the nanoparticles of calcium hydroxide penetrate artworks and restore their original structure. Read more here and watch the video here.
Researchers within the ORION project have developed and evaluated a new family of hybrid materials based on nanoscale building blocks and ionic liquids for emerging photovoltaics, battery and light emitting technologies. Dye-sensitised solar cells and Li-ion battery prototypes have been combined in two automotive application demonstrators, namely the autonomous electrochromic mirror and courtesy-light shown in these videos: Light_demonstrator and Mirror_demostrator.
The use and storage of renewable energy are crucial factors in providing a sustainable solution for the global energy future, which is considered to be one of the most important challenges in the 21st century. The progress made within the ORION project may have an impact in other sectors, such as energy efficient buildings and mobile electronic devices. Additional to the contribution towards a sustainable global energy solution, the results may contribute to both the growth and competitiveness of EU industries (e.g. chemicals and materials suppliers, solar cells, light emitting and battery manufacturers and end-users).
The Tenth International Nanotechnology Conference on Communication and Cooperation (INC 10) will be held at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) campus in Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA, on 13-15 May 2014. The US Nano Day will take place on 13th May and will give an in-depth overview of the US activities on nanoscience and nanotechnologies.
The INC vision is to foster global international communication and cooperation on nanotechnology and particularly on nanoelectronics between industry, academic and government partners to advance innovation in computer, communications, electronics, and related industries. Global science and technology trends and overviews of major regional funding programs will be presented from the United States, Europe and Japan that address scientific and societal challenges, and that support sustainable technological and economic growth.
In order to promote design-driven innovation, the European Commission has recently published a Staff Working Document, “Implementing an Action Plan for Design-Driven Innovation” (PDF version). The document lists a number of action lines that have been endorsed by the Commission, including integrating design into research and development and promoting new collaborative innovation strategies.
Examples of running research and innovation projects promoting technological development in the creative industries and design-driven material innovation are given here (PDF version). These are co-financed through the EU Nanotechnologies, Advanced Materials, Advanced Manufacturing and Processing Programme.
The first possible workprogramme and call for research proposals to be financed under Horizon 2020 are currently in the process of being created. Information is expected to be published in mid-December. Material scientists and designers are invited to keep an eye on the European Commission website!
Three EU-China twinned projects (Bio-Scaffolds, NEUROSCAFFOLDS and RAPIDOS) have recently been launched. This initiative is expected to accelerate scientific progress in this important field, and to foster greater co-operation between China and the EU. The projects are the result of the first co-ordinated call for research proposals in “Biomaterials: Imaging and rapid precise prototyping technology for custom made scaffolds” launched by the European Commission and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC)
Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel have been awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry for the development of multiscale models able to reproduce and predict the macroscopic behaviour of large and complex chemical systems.
Their work was ground-breaking because it linked Newton’s classical physics work describing the behaviour of atoms with quantum physics describing the behaviour of electrons. Previously, chemists had to choose to use either or and suffer the limitations of both.
The linking of electronic and atomistic models has been used extensively ever since. These models are called QM/MM (quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics) and are used e.g. by the EU-funded projects ADGLASS, INNOVASOL, MACADEMIA and MINOTOR. But also meso-scale models and continuum models describing the behaviour of nanoparticles and unit cells have been interlinked. Linking of this wide scope of models describing the behaviour of different physical entities is described in the brochure “ What makes a material function? Let me compute the ways….” on this website.
The first possible workprogramme and call for research proposals to be financed under Horizon 2020 are currently in the process of being created. Information is expected to be published in mid-December. Material scientists and model developers are invited to keep an eye on the European Commission website!
Read more:The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2013 (PDF version 154,74KB)
Read more: What makes a material function? (PDF version, 3.55MB)
Euronews featured an article on innovation in materials for the conservation and protection of European historical buildings. Starting from the study of the old bricks of the medieval Bač fortress, Serbia, the researchers of FP7 project Heromat have developed two new environmentally friendly and multifunctional materials, one for the consolidation of old brick structures and the other a photocatalytic and anti-microbial coating for their preservation.
The European Commission and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) launched a coordinated call for proposals to support research on the fundamental properties of novel superconducting materials.
Many rapidly emerging technologies in the clean energy, electronics and telecommunications sector face material requirements that are, or will be, critically affected by demand-supply disruptions. The research projects focus on improving our fundamental understanding of the development of new materials with unique chemical and physical characteristics, including catalytic, magnetic, and conductive properties, to replace such critical metals. Three EU research consortia and their twinned Japanese teams start their coordinated research activities on 1 September 2013.
Read more (PDF version)
Competition for water is set to be one of the biggest challenges for the global community in the coming years. This competition will be particularly fierce in areas of high urbanisation or industrialisation. Membrane technology could be extremely helpful in providing a new source of water that has never been available before. Now researchers working within FP7 project CapWa have shown that water can be successfully extracted from plant chimneys and that it is ready for large scale industrial use. Since at least 40% of the water in the flue gases of an industrial plant can be recovered using membrane technology, food, paper, cement, steel, and petrochemical producers could benefit from it. The recovered water could be used directly as demineralised water for industrial applications or in agriculture, or even for consumption, after mineralisation.
According to the partners involved in the project, the value of energy savings obtained by using this technology could be enormous.
© picture : WD Kaplan, D Chatain, P Wynblatt,
WC Carter, J. Mater. Sci., 48,5681, 2013
The FP7 coordination and support action MACAN on “Merging Atomistic and Continuum Analysis of Nanometer Length-Scale Metal-Oxide Systems for Energy and Catalysis Applications”, which brought together expertise from EU, Israeli, Turkish, USA, Japanese, Brazilian and Indian partners, has recently published a full-blown review on wetting.
This work is not only important from a theoretical material research point of view, it is also technologically hugely important as it describes what is happening at the interface between different materials and bulk phases. This is the theory behind superhydrophobic films as well as making high-power electronics to work.
The article can be downloaded free of charge under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, and therefore ensures open access to all students and researchers new to the field. This is in line with the European Commission’s pilot initiative on open access to peer reviewed research articles in FP7, which aims to improve and promote the dissemination of knowledge, thereby improving the efficiency of scientific discovery and maximising return on investment in R&D by public research funding bodies.
Brussels, Belgium - 21 June 2013
The clustering meeting "Nano and advanced materials for cultural heritage" will take place on 21/06/2013 in the MADOU Auditorium, Place Madou 1, Brussels.
The meeting is dedicated to FP7 projects dealing with nano and advanced materials for cultural heritage.
The event will involve six projects:
HEROMAT, IMAT, NANOFORART, NANOMATCH, PANNA and ROCARE.
The purpose of the meeting is to foster collaboration and synergies among these projects. A special focus will be put on SMEs-related issues and on the exploitation and commercialisation of results.
For more information on FP7 research for protection, conservation and restoration of cultural heritage assets, see here. (PDF version)
For more information on the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage, see here
On 17 April 2013 the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the Commission's Communication "Promoting cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the EU" which is relevant for advanced materials.
The EESC believes that a medium-to-long-term strategy is needed to provide the cultural and creative sectors (CCS) with, among other things, a technological dimension that promotes research into new technologies and innovative product and process applications with creative added value and the use of designers as intermediaries or facilitators of interface processes between development, technology and production.
The full text of this recent EESC opinion in all EU languages is available here.
Recently, the European Commission funded several projects in answer to a call for proposals for developing novel materials and design based solutions for the creative industry.
For more information, see here (PDF version) and the projects websites:
Share with us your ideas RTD-NMP-MATERIALS@ec.europa.eu
In December 2012 the Members of the European Resource Efficiency Platform issued a memo called MANIFESTO FOR A RESOURCE-EFFICIENT EUROPE which started with the following statement:
In a world with growing pressures on resources and the environment, the EU has no choice but to go for the transition to a resource-efficient and ultimately regenerative circular economy. Our future jobs and competitiveness, as a major importer of resources, are dependent on our ability to get more added value, and achieve overall decoupling, through a systemic change in the use and recovery of resources in the economy. According to the OECD, this could lead to steady economic growth with business opportunities across the whole economy.
Here (PDF version, 188KB) you can find some further thinking around such an approach, with a non-binding overview of concepts linked to close-loop management of materials and to the circular economy.
© picture : Andres Rodriguez, #42031736,
2013. Source: Fotolia.com
The NanoFormulation conferences organised through the FP7 Project InForm (Integrating Nanomaterials in Formulations) in 2010, 2011 and 2012 have been helping to realise the potential of the nanotechnology investment by providing an interface between the formulation scientists and engineers on one side and materials scientists, optical physicists, bio-scientists, regulatory scientists and surface technologists, on the other.
Some of the partners are now organising NanoFormulation2013 which will be held in Manchester, 18-21 June 2013. Continuing in the spirit of the InForm project but without using EU funding, this event will share the best practices on the use of nanomaterials in formulations, including graphene, as well as a showcase on formulating industries.
The objective of the study was to identify, determine the characteristics of and develop a classification system for “emerging industries”. These are industrial sectors, typically based on new products, services, technologies or ideas, which are in early stage development and are characterised by high-growth rates and market potential.
18 candidates for emerging industries were identified. New Materials was among the 18, but had a low score on employment and turnover.
Seven final emerging industries were selected:
According to the study, these emerging industries have significant potential to fuel economic growth, help renew or diversify a country's or region's economy, and create new and high value-added jobs. The development of these emerging industries is key for enhancing Europe's present and future competitiveness and prosperity, for enabling its industrial renewal by fostering the development of robust and sustainable industrial platforms from which European companies can compete globally, but also for unlocking the innovation required to allow Europe to shift towards a low carbon, resource-efficient and knowledge-based economy.
Comments and suggestions are welcome and may be sent by email to
Read the report (PDF version, 5.83MB)
Four proposals have been positively evaluated by the European and Chinese experts, resulting from the first co ordinated call for research proposals in “Biomaterials: Imaging and rapid precise prototyping technology for custom made scaffolds”, launched by the European Commission and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to accelerate scientific progress in this important field as well as to foster greater co operation between China and the EU.
Due to the announced budget availability, negotiations could be initiated only for three of the fours proposals, which will cover the development and tissue prototyping of bioscaffolds for bone regeneration, nervous system and urethra reconstruction and the deployment of natural inorganic polymers and smart functionalised micro-units into such bioactive scaffolds.
The objective of the call was to integrate medical imaging, e.g. computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and rapid micro/nano prototyping in order to create customised scaffolds using novel biomaterials for tissue regeneration or repair. An added feature of this co ordinated call and giving it its name, was to foster a balanced cooperation from European and Chinese researchers in each project, in the form of integrated and coordinated research activities with approximately equal research effort on both sides, along with an intensive exchange and training of researchers as part of a successful proposal. A more intensive exchange and training of researchers was also needed as well as the added value of the European-Chinese cooperative research. A total number of 28 proposals was received by the EU services and were evaluated by a panel of experts drawn from the relevant scientific fields both from China and the EU.
The experts felt that the experience was a positive one and worth repeating, perhaps on a grander scale in the future, and recommended the European Commission and NSFC to act in this sense. All in all, the exercise can be considered as highly appropriate for the closure of the Chinese Year of the Dragon (2012), which is considered to be the ultimate auspicious symbol of success and happiness.
© picture : Deyan Georgiev, #38170704,
2013. Source : Fotolia.com
A portfolio analysis on Value Added Materials has been carried out during the last five months. The final result is now available.
This portfolio analysis shows that material science plays an important role along the innovation value-chain and that research on materials is also largely cross-cutting as it encompasses multiple disciplines and various fields of application.
This analysis contributes to the strategic discussion about future European research and underlines the crucial importance of material science to tackle the Grand Challenges of our society and deliver valuable solutions to improve quality of life of the European citizens, stimulate growth, wealth and job creation.
Portfolio Analysis (PDF version, 895KB)
© picture : Delft University of Technology
Self-healing materials are materials that are able to repair themselves after damage caused by e.g. impact, abrasion, corrosion, wear, fire, and ice.
Self-healing materials are of great value for society and economy, most certainly for industrial sectors such as chemistry, high-tech and energy. They can increase the material reliability and durability and enhance safety when used in vehicles, machinery and transportation infrastructure. They can reduce maintenance, incidents, injuries and permanent damage; reduce environmental pollution, and urban noise. The development of the self-healing capacity of materials as asphalt, concrete and coatings, is a great technological innovation and is crucial to preserve European infrastructure, cohesion and business operations.
In answer to a recent call for proposals published by the European Commission for developing self-healing materials, 2 projects (SHINE and HEALCON) concerning smart concrete or asphalt have been funded.
They propose the development and encapsulation of viscoelastic polymers that undergo spontaneous self-healing and of non-elastic repair materials, such as calcium carbonate precipitated by bacteria, or new cement hydrates whose formation is stimulated by the presence of hydrogels.
The project SAMBA was also funded in the same call, and proposes the development of self-healing thermal barrier coating for turbines and other thermally loaded structures in order to realize a significant extension of the lifetime of critical high-temperature components.
Related projects receiving national funding are also running in the Member States, let us know your success stories!
The European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes has announced the “Graphene” flagship initiative, with one billion euro in funding over a period of 10 years from the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) scheme as well as national and industrial sources.
Graphene is a material with an extraordinary combination of physical and chemical properties: it is a very thin (two-dimensional) material, it conducts electricity better than copper, it is stronger than steel and it has unique optical properties.
Knowledge concerning graphene and how to obtain it experienced a jump in 2004, thanks to remarkable work of European researchers. Its applications are studied in multiple fields, e.g. in ICT, where it could potentially challenge silicon.
The "Graphene" flagship initiative is led by Prof. Jari Kinaret, from Sweden's Chalmers University; it involves over 100 research groups, with 136 principal investigators, including four Nobel laureates.
Graphene research has long been supported by the Materials Unit of the European Commission's Directorate for Research and Innovation. In 2008 the NMP programme published a call for research on graphene, followed by a workshop in 2011 (click here for the proceedings) bringing together European Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and three Nobel prize laureates and then a further call, published in 2012, on graphene production technologies.
There are at present 8 NMP research projects related to graphene running, with a total budget of almost 45 million euro and an EC contribution of 31 million euro, and several others are currently being evaluated.
Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn met students from St Killian's College at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition held in Dublin 10-12 January. Their project, entitled "A 'cool' cool box", had been selected as one of 550 finalists in the category “technology“ for the 2013 awards at the 3-day event. Their work, inspired by the Secret Materials Box learning tool developed by DG Research and Innovation, consisted of a box design using nanomaterials to bring fresh, healthy and safe-to-eat lunches to school.
This remarkable project shows how the interactive experiments in the Secret Materials Box can support science education activities and empower young people to harness the innovative potential of advanced materials. The next edition of the material boxes, which are currently out of stock, will be announced here The BT competition broke previous records of participation, attracting more than 1,800 entries from over 4,000 students, and the exhibition was visited by over 40,000 people.
The EU project CRM_InnoNet intends to create an integrated community that will drive innovation in the field of Critical Raw Material substitution. The scarcity of Critical Raw Materials, together with their economic importance for EU industry, makes it necessary to explore new avenues towards their possible substitution to reduce the EU’s consumption and decrease the relative dependence upon imports.
The project will survey current EU initiatives in the field of substitution of Critical Raw Materials, produce a methodology for prioritisation of ‘threatened’ applications and deliver a Critical Raw Materials Substitution Roadmap. A Pole of Excellence will be created to provide a dynamic, open and proactive platform for the entire stakeholder community.
To receive further information about this project, please contact Catherine.Joce@ciktn.co.uk.
The Commission has adopted on 10.10.2012 the Communication “A Stronger European Industry for Growth and Economic Recovery” highlighting how industrial revolution can bring industry back to Europe
The role of innovation is emphasized, with a focus on six priority areas with enormous potential for growth and jobs in Europe:
Human capital and skills are key; it is needed equipping labour force for industrial transformations, notably by better anticipating skills needs and mismatches.
Early this year, the President of E-MRS, FEMS and EuMat have endorsed the Aarhus Declaration (see below in this blog) where manufacturing industry committed itselfto join forces with the public sector to significantly contribute to European recovery and to address the challenges facing our society.
European materials researchers are willing to share in this effort in order to achieve the goal of a stronger, more competitive and sustainable industrial the economy in Europe.
The "Mihai Eminescu" School in Braila, Romania, organised a Physics Summer School (20-24th August 2012) for schoolchildren aged 9-14, using the free of charge educational boxes provided by the Materials Unit, DG Research and Innovation.
Children were encouraged to perform hands-on experiments, discuss applications of materials and nanotechnology in our everyday life and brainstorm on the possible uses of the smart materials studied.
Prof. Maria Neicu from the Science Department said of the experience: “The "Secret Materials" educational sets were a great way to make classes more exciting, to ignite imagination and curiosity in our pupils, as well as foster a critical spirit when it comes to everyday applications of emerging technologies. We congratulate you for this initiative and we are looking forward to more educational sets!”
For more information on the Physics School:
Agenda (PDF version, 408KB)
Worksheet (PDF version, 340KB)
Imagination exercise results (PDF version, 251KB)
Journal (PDF version, 897KB)
The FUMAT 2011 conference held on 22-23 September 2011 in Warsaw discussed the vision of future materials and manufacturing in relation not only to technological progress but also to societal challenges, political needs and financial capabilities.
The FUMAT 2011 position paper has been recently published by the organizers.
It reports the debate conclusions on several topics including the role of advanced materials in the grand challenges, horizontal initiatives on materials, and challenges in various sector applications (energy, transport, environment, health, sustainable development and societal aspects).
For more information (PDF version, 8.01MB)
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, highlighted the potential of the new EU-funded project WINSMART in a speech given at the Public Private Partnerships Information Days, held in Brussels on 9-10 July 2012.
Studies show that Europe uses 40% of its energy consumption in buildings which also account for 36% of our greenhouse gases emissions. Improving our buildings to save energy will have an immediate and considerable impact on our energy (and economic) balance. Since windows are critical for the energy performance of a building, improved solutions for “smart windows” (i.e. multifunctional systems with enhanced energy efficiency), at a reasonable price, are urgently needed.
In answer to a call for proposals published by the European Commission for developing novel materials for smart windows with enhanced energy control, the project WINSMART will develop a new vacuum insulation glazing solution and combine it with newly developed and robust switchable glazing systems mounted in durable and energy efficient sash and frame. Additional functionalities targeted include switchable optical properties, anti-fogging, scratch resistance and easy cleaning. Three other projects (SmartBlind, MEM4WIN and HarWin) are also funded under the same call, for which the total FP7 contribution trespass 15 € million for total budget for the research and innovation activities of more than 22 € million.
More on Energy efficient Buildings (EeB) PPP
Black-board designs of metamaterials (artificial materials with advantageous or even radically new properties) have been around for some years. Manufacturing 2D and 3D nanostructured metamaterials was a challenge.
Four projects have been funded by the European Commission within the seventh Framework Program with the purpose to develop appropriate fabrication and characterisation technologies for nanostructured metamaterials: NIM_NIL, NANOGOLD, MAGNONICS, and METACHEM.
The lists of exploitable results of the four projects (PDF version, 7.72MB) are presented in this recently published brochure.
Using nano-scale inclusions and clever materials engineering, it is now possible to realise the black-board designs of metamaterials operating with light and spin waves.
The brochure presents these manufacturing and characterisation technologies to the application designers, who can then use them to create sensors and filters for information processing, which may find application in all industrial sectors. These optimised manufacturing technologies can of course also be applied outside the field of metamaterials to create advanced 2D or 3D nanostructures.
On July 10th, the European Parliament Science and Technology Opinion Assessment (STOA) panel organised the “Materials for the 2020 Challenges” workshop together with representatives of the European materials community. The workshop promoted a debate between scientists, industrial representatives and EU politicians on the crucial role of materials science and engineering in supporting and driving the future European industrial and societal growth. In this context, Director Herbert von Bose, from the European Commission, talked about the future of materials research in the next EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 'Horizon 2020'.
In their concluding remarks, Prof António Correia de Campos and Dr Paul Rübig, members of the European Parliament and of the STOA Panel, confirmed the commitment of the European Parliament to promote materials research and development and to tackle the normative and regulatory impact on the use of traditional and innovative materials in commercial or industrial production. They also stressed the importance of drawing political attention towards creating the conditions for decreasing the European dependency on materials produced outside Europe and stimulating the creation of European producers of strategic materials for the European industry.
The FP7 NMP project NANOCLEAN realised a textured mirror cup as demonstrator of self-cleaning 3D complex plastic components for the automotive industry.
This is a step towards developing an industrial production method for injection moulded products that mimic highly water repelling (super hydrophobic) surfaces found in nature.
This texturing technology will result in self-cleaning surfaces for outdoor applications, where rainwater washes off the dirt without leaving any traces
More info (PDF versio, 844KB)
Figure: Self-cleaning mirror cup mould during the texturing process and with the completed texture, by Lightmotif BV, The Netherlands
At the EU Danish Presidency Industrial Technologies conference 2012 in Aarhus the European material research societies and the technology platform EuMat have engaged themselves in the effort to realise a stronger, more competitive and sustainable industrial economy in Europe.
Representatives of Industry and of Research and Innovation communities have signed the attached Declaration (PDF version, 554KB)
The Chinese Committee for Biomaterials (CCBM) and the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB) have been cooperating for a long time. In 2006, they started a series of joint conferences, the China - Europe Symposium on
Biomaterials in Regenerative Medicine. Subsequently, the European Commission has been liaising with the National Science Foundation of China with a view to set up a coordinated call on biomaterials research, development & innovation.
More information and background on the EU-China cooperation in the area of biomaterials can be found here (PDF version, 1.04 MB).
On March 28, 2012, a Trilateral Conference and Workshop on Critical Materials was hosted by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan. Participants included officials from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the European Commission, and the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as material scientists and executives from related industries.
Critical materials, including rare earth elements, are essential for producing several key components in high technology devices that support our daily life. Possibilities for technological solutions to current challenges in the critical materials market have been discussed, including national strategies on R&D and supply chain management from mining to recycling of critical materials. The first day was devoted to a strategic political analysis while the second day was a closed internal technical workshop to advance the trilateral cooperation. The latter included a discussion on how to involve joint cooperation in science and technology and thus accelerate the needed innovation in the field.
The EU and Japan decided to collaborate in the substitution of rare materials by launching a joint call for proposals in summer this year: FP7.NMP.2013.4.1-1 Development of new materials for the substitution of critical metals
Agenda of the Trilateral Conference and Workshop on Critical Materials
News item on the EU Delegation to Japan
Seagate Technology, involved in the EU projects ULTRAMAGNETRON and FEMTOSPIN, has doubled the storage capacity of today’s hard drives with the Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) technology supported in these projects.
Seagate achieved the one terabit per square inch demonstration with breakthroughs in materials science, in particular ferrimagnetic rare earth-transition metal alloys, and near-field optics.
The EU project ULTRAMAGNETRON contributed considerably to the scientific understanding and Seagate will continue to work on the subject in the project FEMTOSPIN which is aimed at developments even beyond HAMR.
Figure: The ultimate recording system consisting of magnetic islands, each representing a bit of information, reversing under the heating effect of a laser beam (courtesy Dr R Evans)
For more information:
Start of 5 Coordination and Support Actions (CSAs) on Materials Innovation
In FP6 several Networks of Excellence (NoE) have been creating Durable Integrated Structures (DIS).
Five of these associations that were successful in industrial activities have been selected in FP7 to strengthen their approach to innovation using targeted Coordination and Support Actions (CSAs).
The CSAs will focus on optimising the technology transfer to the industry and will prepare for innovation in the form of access to material and material technology databases, R&D and training services, testing and modelling, infrastructure use, market studies, Life Cycle Assessments, telephone hot lines, studies in the form of state-of-the-art reports, market studies, roadmaps, cost analyses and benchmarking.
As the projects are dealing with very different materials, material technologies and application sectors, the innovation approaches will be very diverse.
A natural source for innovation on
self-cleaning (bio-mimetic) materials
© Ilona Wellmann Photography
More information can be found here (PDF version, 244KB)
Final report is now available on-line
The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the EU Delegation to Japan, and the European Commission's Directorate General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) organised an expert workshop in Tokyo on 21-22 November 2011.
The workshop reviewed current research activities in Japan and Europe that are aiming for the substitution of critical raw materials. In addition, several topics were identified and discussed for possible bilateral cooperation in this field of research. The conclusions of the meeting were provided to the European Commission and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) with the recommendation to explore the possibility of funding coordinated EU-Japan research projects in the field of materials substitution.
For further information please download the final workshop report (PDF version, 680KB)
Overcoming Europe's raw materials shortages
The supply of raw materials, the lifeblood of today's high-tech industry, is increasingly under pressure. With a view to increasing Europe's own production, the European Commission has proposed to set up a European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on raw materials.
The aim of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) is to address weaknesses, bottlenecks, and obstacles in the European research and innovation system that prevent or slow down good ideas being developed and brought to market. The EIP on raw materials is not a funding instrument. Nonetheless, Member States, companies, and researchers will join innovation efforts to support exploration, extraction, and processing of raw materials.
For more information please visit the EIP on raw materials website.
The press release can be found here (PDF Version).
Call for images and pictures to visualise the scientific and economic importance of materials
Added Value Materials are key factors for progress in our industrial economy, making it more competitive, sustainable and centred on people's needs.
How can this be expressed with images or pictures?
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DG Research and Innovation, March 16, 2012 Brussels
This one-day workshop will provide an overview and perspective of research and development involving Biomaterials for Health.
It will also explore the various technical and economic scenarios linked to the potential development of such materials.
The workshop will take place on March 16, 2012 in Brussels and will bring together experts in the field both from the commercial and private sectors as well as research policy makers.
Registration will be free of charge. However, in view of the limited number of available places, we ask for expressions of interest to participate in the workshop to be sent to:
Participants will receive confirmation by March 9, 2012 at the latest.
More information on the workshop is available here (PDF version).
Belgium based research center IMEC reported to have achieved 8.3% efficiency with a polymer-based inverted solar cell. This is the highest value obtained so far for inverted polymer cell architectures. Organic solar cells are an emerging field of renewable photovoltaics, which has the potential to substantially increase the commercial viability and potential uses of solar energy in our society.
This success is a result of the cross-fertilization of know-how on cell processing, molecular design, and chemical synthesis in the FP7 project ONE-P (2009-2011). The European FP7 framework plays an important role to increase this type of collaboration between academia, research centers and industry, in particular for multi-disciplinary research and development
FP7 project ONE-P
Picture: Organic solar cell with inverted device architecture and 8.3% efficiency developed by imec, Polyera and Solvay.(With the courtesy of Imec.)
New roadmap adopted by the European Commission
The Materials Roadmap has been elaborated by nearly hundred leading European scientists and industrial researchers. It is designed to support coherent and strategic decisions on materials research in industry and academia, both at European level and in EU member states. It is in line with FP7 and Horizon 2020 and with the priorities of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan).
The Institute for Energy and Transport of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission has conducted a study to assess whether there could be any potential bottlenecks in the supply chain of low-carbon energy technologies due to the shortage of certain so-called high-tech metals.
The study examined the use of metals in the six strategic energy technologies in the EU, namely: nuclear, solar, wind, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage and the electricity grid. The study concluded that 5 metals, namely tellurium, indium, gallium, neodymium and dysprosium, are at a particularly high risk, with special relevance to the wind and photovoltaic energy generation technologies. Potential mitigation strategies and alternatives to the use of these metals have also been explored.
Read the report here.
The final meeting of FP7 project ONE-P will be held publicly on December 16th 2011 at the European Parliament, under the patronage of Green MEP Philippe Lamberts.
During its 3 year life span, the ONE-P project developed electronic and photonic devices using organic materials. This will enable the production of novel, low cost and sustainable applications, such as (1) efficient light emitting diodes and memory devices, (2) cheaper solar cells, (3) energy efficient e-printing, (4) sensitive sensors for medical applications and effective environmental monitoring.
The project benefited from a EUR 18 million EU contribution and involved 28 partners from 11 European countries, including some of the major industrial and academic players in the field.
ONE-P the movie
FP7 project CapWa (Capture of evaporated Water with novel membranes)
CapWa applies membrane technology to produce clean water from the water vapour present in the air or in the smoke emitted by various industries.
The project aims for a commercially available system in 2 to 3 years time. Recent press releases in English and Chinese sparked considerable interest in CapWa technology, both from the media and from potential end users.
For more details please read the coordinator's update on CapWa.
CapWa invites end users to complete a questionnaire to help them understand industrial needs. If you are a potential end user or an organisation interested in water capture technology please fill in the online questionnaire, using the link below. CapWa will inform participants about the outcome of the questionnaire, if desired.
Coordinator's update (PDF 78KB)
Three coordinated projects on superconductivity materials started on 1st October 2011
The projects focus on studying the fundamental properties of novel superconducting materials. Such materials might be used in cables to transmit electrical power with reduced losses, to improve the resolution of medical imaging devices, in advanced sensors or even in space applications. Three EU research consortia and their twinned Japanese teams will carry out coordinated research on superconductivity during the next three to four years. The total EU budget for the three projects is 5 million EUR, and an equivalent budget is made available by the Japanese authorities.
Following engaged and constructive negotiations, the European Commission and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) have been able to create this new funding possibility that enables European and Japanese researchers to work together in coordinated projects. The concrete hope is to realise substantial synergy with a view to achieve acceleration in the generation of new applicable knowledge in the promising field of superconductivity.
More information on the funded projects and on the background of this EU-Japan cooperation is available here (PDF version)
Trilateral EU-Japan-U.S. Meeting in Washington on October 4-5, 2011
The European Union, Japan and the United States are engaged in delivering clean energy technologies to the marketplace. The aim is to reduce the carbon fingerprint of our industrial economies and fight against climate change. Wind turbines, electric vehicles, and other emerging clean energy technologies depend on materials with unique properties, such as rare earth elements.
The availability of a number of these materials is at risk due to the possibility of supply disruptions and lack of suitable substitutes. Therefore, strategies to meet a possible shortage of rare earth materials were discussed at a recent trilateral the EU-Japan-US conference in Washington DC, hosted by the European Institute on October 4 and the U.S. Department of Energy on October 5, 2011.
The conference was jointly organized by European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Two main strategies have been addressed to cope with diminished supply of rare earth materials. One strategy to meet this problem is to expand available supplies through sustainable and cost-effective technologies for separation, extraction, processing and recycling of rare earths. Another is to temper raw material demand by designing wind turbines and motors that require less critical raw material. The challenge of realising knowledge-based materials by design has also been discussed.
Background information and the report of the previous EU-U.S. workshop on rare earth elements are available here.
More information on the European Commission's raw materials initiative can be found here.
FUMAT addressed the role of advanced materials in tackling the grand societal challenges in Europe. The key objective was to suggest strategies and research directions that will help to meet these challenges and lead to a sustainable industrial economy, new jobs, and a wealthy Europe. Perspectives and needs in materials research and innovation were analysed by 400 participants, including academic and industrial researchers, politicians and administrators, financial actors and societal scientists.
Mr Paul Rübig, member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Science and Technology Options Assessment Panel for the European Parliament addressed FuMat participants.
A highlight of the conference was the announcement by the Polish Presidency of the establishment of the Alliance for Materials (A4M) and the decision of European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) and the Federation of European Materials Societies (FEMS) to explore the possibilities of joint or coordinated activities, with a dynamic participation of the European Technology Platform on Materials (EuMat).
Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) emerge as a new high potential material class. High specific surface areas, catalytic activities for selective conversion and scalable synthesis routes promise a huge variety of potential applications in gas storage, air and hydrogen purification, CO2 reduction, and various chemical processes.
The workshop brings together experts from academia and industry with a focus on application and formulation in gas purification, separation and toxic gas treatment of MOFs. Beside a survey of the state of the art the workshop focuses the attention on new innovative processes.
An interesting article was published in “Estrategia Empresarial” (a business magazine at Basque country level) regarding the last consortium meeting of NANOTOUGH project.
Nanotough is a European framework project that focuses on developing polymer nanocomposite materials with superior properties, particularly impact strength. A total of 11 partners from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Romania and Denmark are participating in the project.
The objective of Nanotough is to optimise, and through novel interface design, to develop new cost efficient hybrid (nanofiller-fiber) nanocomposites as an alterntive to heavily filled polymers. These new materials should fulfil industry requirements for high performance materials in high tech applications where today metals or plastics are used in for example cars or aircraft. The research will look at how the products can be made both lighter and stronger using nano-particles.
Read more (PDF version, 156KB)
The European Commission, Directorate for Industrial Technologies – Materials Unit, cooperated in the organisation of the Trans-Atlantic Workshop on Rare Earth Elements and Other Critical Materials for a Clean Energy Future.
The European Multifunctional Materials Institute EMMI was founded in 2008 by 14 partners of the FP6 Network of Excellence FAME
It is an international non-profit organisation with 11 academic Full Members, 3 Academic Partners, and 5 Adherent Members from industry.
Softcomp was born in 2004 as a FP6 Network of Excellence (NoE) aiming to establish a knowledge base for an intelligent design of functional and nanoscale soft matter composites.
From December 2009 it has a durable structure organized as a Consortium, which is now self-financed by the partners.
The Workshop on the future of graphene took place in Brussels on 21st- 22nd March 2011. 123 high-level experts participated, including 3 Nobel prize laureates: professors A. Fert, A. Geim and K. von Klitzing.
Opening speeches were given by the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, and the 2010 Nobel prize laureate in physics, professor Andre Geim from the University of Manchester.
A comprehensive overview was given and debated, both on the current state-of-the-art in graphene research and the potential applications. We also heard talks on graphene activities in the US and Korea, as well as presentations on financing knowledge transfer, patenting and creating novel industrial spin-outs. Professors Fert, Geim and von Klitzing also met Robert-Jan Smits and Herbert von Bose, respectively Director-general for "Research and Innovation" and Director for "Industrial Technologies".
What is the environmental impact of nano-structured materials?
Are there possible risks along their "life", their manufacturing into products, their use, repair or recycling?
These questions were debated by 60 experts during a successful workshop held last March 2011 in Brussels, as a part of a joint dissemination and exploitation action of the EC research project MUST
Read more (PDF version, 2.76MB)
After three years of activity, the European project Napolynet has successfully set up research intensive clusters across the EU on characterization of polymer nanostructures in the field of packaging, textiles and membranes.
The European Commission, Directorate for Industrial Technologies – Materials Unit, organised a workshop on CO2 and algae utilisation as future raw materials for chemicals in Brussels on March 30th 2011.
Approximately 50 experts on catalysis, biology, chemical and CO2 technologies and algae utilisation gathered and identified challenges and opportunities for potential future research activities.
Brokerage event to help setting up FP7 consortia.
13-14 July 2011 in Tam Dao, Vietnam
Following the successful EU-South East Asia Workshop on Materials Research for Environmental and Health Applications in November 2010 in Hanoi/Vietnam., SEA-EU-NET is arranging a brokerage event aiming at scientific matchmaking related to upcoming EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7) funding calls. The symposium will bring together EU and SEA experts from industry and academia on depollution technologies with a particular focus on photocatalysis, to identify opportunities for future EU-SEA collaboration under upcoming EU FP7 funding calls.
After four years of research, the European project CustomIMD has developed a breakthrough concept for fully customised medical devices.
Catalysis is the science at the interface between chemistry, physics, biology, engineering and material sciences that enables chemical processes to be realised in a cost-, energy and eco-efficient way. More than 80% of the processes in the chemical industry worth approximately € 1500 billion, depend on catalytic technologies.
A short movie, explaining catalysis at a basic level, was produced by the University of Southampton (Moniek Tromp, Jeroen Klijs, David Read, Gill Reid, John Evans), within the framework of the European Network of Excellence IDECAT and in cooperation with European Research Institute on Catalysis (ERIC).
Watch the video
Six European Technology Platforms (EuMaT, SUSCHEM, SMR, MANUFUTURE, TEXTILE and ESTEP), with a fundamental and significant material component in their strategy, wrote a letter to Commissioners Geoghegan-Quinn and Tajani.
They announced to provide in the near future a proposal for concrete initiatives on how to align the value chain consisting of the supply of materials, their processing and the manufacturing needed to address the key societal challenges defined with the EUROPE2020 policy objectives.
These initiatives can also be applied in the ongoing work of the High Level Group of Key Enabling Technologies.
Read more (PDF version, 166KB)
Non-energy raw materials are vital inputs for the EU’s economy, and are particularly crucial for the development of modern environmentally friendly technologies such as electric cars and photovoltaic.
However, as global raw material markets are increasingly distorted by protectionist trade policies, maintaining fair and undistorted access to these materials for EU industry and citizens is increasingly difficult.
Based on the first Communication on the Raw Materials Initiative published in November 2008, a new strategy document was published on February 2nd 2011 which sets out targeted measures to secure and improve access to raw materials for the EU.
Raw materials website
The list of the critical raw materials is given at page 6 (PDF version)
The FP6 European project NanoGLOWA is now ready to run industrial trials in Germany, Portugal and Israel with two new types of nano-membranes developed to sequestrate CO2 with low energy penalties and without any chemicals or regeneration steps.
"Continuing our current patterns of resource use is not an option" said EC President José Manuel Barroso, steering the launch of the Flagship initiative for a Resource Efficient Europe on January 26th 2011. "They put too much pressure on our planet and make our economy more dependent on external supplies. A smarter use of scarce resources is therefore a strategic necessity, but also an economic opportunity”.
This is the 7th flagship initiative launched so far within the frame of Europe 2020 strategy. It provides a long-term framework for actions in many policy areas, supporting policy agendas for climate change, energy, transport, industry, raw materials, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity and regional development.
Commission communication (PDF version).
A successful EU - South East Asia workshop was held last November 2010 in Hanoi, Vietnam, sponsored by SEA-EU-NET and supported by the Institute of Materials Science, Hanoi, ASEAN Sub-Committee on Materials Science and Technology and the European Commission.
The European project BUGWORKERS aims at presenting an alternative to current petroleum based materials. The project focuses on the electronic equipment, telecommunications and household appliance sectors.
On November 25th and 26th 2010 a workshop was jointly organised by the European Commission, Directorate G - Industrial Technologies- Materials Unit and the State Committee of Ukraine on Science, Innovation and Informatization. The workshop involved high level experts from EU and EaP countries in order to exchange ideas and identify a common ground for future research co-operation. It was kindly hosted by the Ukraine State Committee on Science, Innovation and Informatization, Kyiv. The workshop was a success after the elaborated exchange of ideas between the experts of both sides, it was concluded that indeed there was common ground of possible co-operation research in the technological area of the present workshop. The fields to be addressed are Materials for Energy Conversion, Energy Transfer and Energy Storage.
The Official International Launch Ceremony for IYC 2011 took place at UNESCO World Headquarters in Paris on 27-28 January 2011, under the aegis of the UN, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) and with support from the European Commission.
The European Commission and its Directorate Industrial Technologies was represented with a stand where the movie "The Chemical Party" has been presented in continuum to a broad and enthusiastic audience.
Renzo Tomellini (Head of Unit Materials Research) moderated the final high level panel including CEOs and the president of CNRS.
Website: IYC2011 Launch Ceremony
Discover the world of new materials
A learning tool for aspiring European scientists
Shirts which do not wrinkle, paper from the remains of apple juice production or rear windows with programmable lights. 70% of product innovation is estimated to be based on materials with new or improved properties. Materials play a key role in the generation of growth and the creation of wealth in Europe.
This "Secret Materials" box contains a few items representative of novel materials with explanations and tasks demonstrating their properties.