Modern materials have shaped the society in which we live and work. They enable an environment in which we have instantaneous access to people and information and can communicate globally at the touch of a button. New materials are transforming the medical and manufacturing industries and it is clear that everything around us is moving towards a highly connected, interacting global society.
In making this new reality sustainable, we have to overcome significant barriers and reach into domains that are currently inaccessible. In particular, we either need to achieve totally new functions —“impossible materials”— or achieve energy efficiency (sustainability) using existing materials. Our materials research program, organized along two focus areas, therefore needs to grapple with increasingly complex materials architectures that are either space efficient (nano) or faster or that combine seemingly incompatible components; that contain or mimic efficient biological systems; or that unite several of the aforementioned strategies. We approach these problems with a team of 32 Principal Investigators organized in 17 Research Groups who are creating a multidisciplinary research environment without borders. This setting allows us to address fundamental and challenging questions in the fields of functional materials that are relevant to societal problems following a comprehensive approach, thus involve the entire chain of knowledge; modelling, synthesis, characterization, physical properties, theory and device functionality.