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‘We are pleased to register the interest expressed for the Secret Materials Box. Unfortunately our stock has become depleted and we are therefore unable to provide any at this time. A new production lot is planned and we hope to have this available in the near future. This will be announced as soon as possible.

We invite you to consult this blog for regular updates and would like to thank you for your interest in the activities of the European Commission.

In view of the preparation of the new edition of the Materials Box, please let us know your suggestion…or criticism.’

The Secret Materials Box

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. Enjoy discovering their secret properties!

Leaflet: Discover the world of new materials (PDF Version, 1.11MB)

To get your own free Secret Materials box send an email to

Leaflet in all EU languages is available

Get your free reflective strap !

The "Value-added Materials" unit has realized reflective straps (340 x 30mm) to be used for fun and safety purposes, i.e. attaching them to wrists, ankles, bags, belts or coiling them around your arm or leg when biking or running. Such straps are popular products also known as reflective armband, reflective bracelet, magic ruler, slap armband ruler, snap bracelets, wrist band, snap band, etc. They give an immediate idea -in a simple way – of how much human intelligence is needed to "create" new materials that have novel properties and serve us better.
The straps are made out of steel and normally lie flat due to their curvature along the width, but when tapped lightly against e.g. your arm or leg, they will curl themselves around as if like magic. This property is applied for example in retractable tape measures. The reflective surface consist of tens of thousands of micrometric PVC (polyvinyl chloride) prisms imprinted on the plastic surface: they collectively retro-reflect light, similar to the retro-reflectors used on road vehicles, thus improving your visibility. The European Commission wraps show (right side) a "firework" picture of a zirconium oxide with possible applications in ink-jet printing, as a courtesy from UNINOVA-CEMOP Centre together with the logo (left side) of the 7th Framework Programme for European Research .

If you are interested in receiving straps for free, please send an email to