The Interactive Polymeric Materials Research Center (IPM) of Eindhoven University of Technology will receive 15 million euros. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is funding them.
The money comes from the prestigious funding program NWO Gravitation. This program provides scientific organisations with the funds they need to become a world leader in their research field.
The task for the IPM is clear. The research centre is to develop new polymer materials which can react to and interact with their environment. Polymers are ubiquitous in everyday life and can be found in plastics, smartphones and medical equipment, among many other things.
Need for Environmental friendly materials
The scientific community faces a challenge in developing these materials further. “Current polymer materials are great for one application, but they cannot instantly change their properties for another application. If they could it would be useful in healthcare,” says Jan van Hest. He is the coordinating researcher at the IPM. The disadvantage is that current polymer materials are difficult to recycle.
Movement and communicating
According to Patricia Dankers, professor of Biomedical Materials and Chemistry, it is time to develop a new generation of polymers. “This could be materials which use certain signals to move. Or engineered living materials that can send and receive signals such as those in biological cells.”
The new materials must also be sustainable. “Of course we will think about sustainably when it comes to the design and production of these materials. We need materials that can fall apart when necessary and their building blocks used to make new materials,” says Dankers.
The NWO’s money is in the right place to unleash this scientific revolution, says Dankers. “In Eindhoven, we have a vibrant polymer science research community. That means we have the necessary expertise to overcome challenges in the creation of interactive and circular polymer materials. We are ideally placed to innovate and create the next generation of polymer materials.”
Translated by: Shanthi Ramani