University of Groningen Professor of Polymer Chemistry Katja Loos is the main applicant for NanoFun (Nanostructured Self-Assembled Functional Materials ), a research project in which universities and industry will collaborate to improve existing materials and techniques at the nanoscale. Self-assembly could generate better car tyres or steel types, and it could also improve microchip production.
The programme, which will be coordinated by the Materials Innovation Institute (M2i), has been awarded funding from NWO Chemical Sciences. With EUR one million from the six industrial partners, this will mean total funds of EUR 2.25 million. Over the next five years PhD students and postdocs will work on such projects as reducing the rolling resistance of car tyres by incorporating silicon particles into the rubber, using polymers to modify the surface of steel and reducing the patterns on the silicon discs used to produce silicon chips. Alongside the University of Groningen, the four Dutch technical universities are involved in the programme, as are six companies: ASM, Philips SCIL, Continental, Tata Steel, Surfix and DSM.
‘What links the projects is self-assembly’, Loos explains. This makes it possible to add something to existing products or processes at the nanoscale. The different partners work with different materials, but there is some overlap. Wageningen University works with polymers for coating steel, for instance, while Loos uses other polymers to improve the production of microchips. ‘The idea is to learn from each other, so there will be joint workshops to make sure that we do.’
Two postdocs will join Katja Loos’s group for two years to work on the project, and a further three PhD students and three postdocs will work for the partners. M2i will manage the project.
NanoFun has received funding through the NWO
Chemical Industrial Partnership Programme
(CHIPP) for public-private partnerships involving at least one company and two knowledge institutions. NWO provides 50% of the funding for projects and industry the other 50%.
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