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Growth Work Programme 2001-2002
Edition December 2000




RTD in this Generic Action will mainly be of a medium and long-term nature. One of the key aspects of medium and long-term generic research is that it is often not related to one specific application but to applications for more than one product or sector. Material properties and performance, including for natural materials, are also closely linked to materials production and transformation. Research on new and improved materials will therefore be carried out in parallel to, and closely integrated with, RTD on materials processing technologies. The main specific objectives are to:

Support advanced materials applications needed for improved quality of life. This includes characterisation, modelling and testing for functional or structural applications.

Develop sustainable materials production and transformation technologies , which can ensure quality, reliability, sustainability and cost-effectiveness of materials to allow optimum incorporation into new products, especially in the context of shorter production cycles.

Improve safety and reliability. Materials properties and degradation mechanisms have a major impact on society: e.g. structural integrity of buildings (e.g. subject to ageing or earthquakes) or transport vehicles as well as efficiency and reliability of industrial processes and products.

Promote the efficient use and reuse of materials. Focus on "full life-cycle approach" will lead to an increasing stream of high quality "secondary" raw materials. This should make a major contribution to a sustainable society.


Specific objectives are important to be mentioned in relation with materials research.

  1. The first one refers to research at the nanoscale (1-100 nm) and on surface technologies. In particular the research on nanotechnologies and the use of nano-particles to improve material properties have large potential applications. Nano-structured materials may for example allow further miniaturisation of electronic systems.
  2. The second one refers to the rapid growth of the functional materials market reflecting their increasing importance for the industry and the society, in particular bio-materials or opto-electronic materials. RTD on functional materials involves a large spectrum of materials research (alloys, ceramics, polymers, surface or interfacial science).
  3. Materials development is largely based on chemistry, and in particular on fine and specialty chemicals. There is here a clear scope for materials and process improvement in efficiency, selectivity, flexibility and sustainability, as well as development of new synthesis routes and their specific process engineering. Processes allowing an increased use of renewable raw materials should receive particular attention.
  4. For the development of new structural materials the basic understanding of degradation mechanisms is also a prerequisite. These materials are key to the future of major industries, in particular for construction or transport. Extending life-cycle properties and performance such as lighter weight, higher strength, higher temperature, fire and corrosion resistance, etc, while ensuring environment compatibility and recyclability, should be priority objectives. Research on sustainable use of materials should aim at an integrated approach where the use of recyclable materials is optimised.

This implies the following four research priorities:

5.1: Cross-cutting generic materials technologies

RTD projects should demonstrate large impact(s) at European level, leading to multisectoral applications for products and processes with improved performance for the consumer or the user. This applies especially to molecular engineering and nanotechnology including processing of particles, layers and structures. Particularly encouraged are novel multidisciplinary approaches, focusing on the development of nano-structured materials to support applications in the health and biological sector, in data processing, storage and communication, and in the chemical and industrial sectors. Research is also needed on surface engineering and interfacial science and technologies to expand the limits of current techniques expected to lead to environmentally safe new production technologies for novel composites, lined, coated and/or surface treated materials through interdisciplinary approaches, including the integration of computational methods.

5.2: Advanced functional materials

RTD will focus both on the development and processing of improved and new functional materials, such as magnetic, electronic or electrochemical materials and devices, superconducting materials, materials for displays, sensors and actuators. Research should also focus on materials and devices for optical applications and opto-electronics. RTD in the area of biomaterials will cover all organic and inorganic materials potentially interesting as implant basis, for medical devices or instruments as well as for general technical applications. Focus is to be given to the whole life-cycle impact of these materials as well as the understanding of their behaviour, including their biocompatibility and viability with the human body.

5.3: Sustainable chemistry

RTD in this area is focussed on generic chemical issues, advanced polymers, and fine or specialty chemicals and solid state chemistry. The overall aim is to achieve a sustainable chemistry based on clean processing and synthesis routes and efficient use of resources, including the use of renewable raw materials, for example for the production of organic chemicals. Research is also needed towards higher added value and safer materials (e.g. "smart", multifunctional, packaging materials). RTD tasks should include functional materials for chemical engineering, including catalysts and materials for separation technologies. They should also cover micro-reaction technologies, formulation engineering, new synthesis routes and alternative reaction media, supramolecular chemistry and chemistry for new materials, including colloidal systems and nanostructured materials.

5.4: Expanding the limits and durability of materials

Objectives are: to expand the performance characteristics (e.g. strength, temperature resistance, toughness) while ensuring environmentally friendly materials and production processes; to improve safety and reliability by understanding deterioration and failure mechanisms (e.g. wear, corrosion). RTD through innovative approaches should focus on expanding the limits of advanced materials (such as metals,alloys, ceramics, polymers), advanced construction materials, metal-matrix composites, ceramic or polymer matrix composites. Attention should also be given to the processing and recyclability of those new materials (11) , considering the above mentioned objectives.

  • Proposers are informed that a similar call is organised by the National Science Foundation (NSF - USA - cf. ). If appropriate joint proposals can therefore be submitted.
  • Where appropriate and within the priorities covered by the call, projects involving the use of high capacity computing, networking, data sharing and data-storage are encouraged. Examples of applications are modelling and simulation in the field of materials processing as well as tools that allow reliable, secure, complete and fast access to materials data. The use of next generation ICT is also encouraged to improve the performance and management of research.

(11) Sustainable use and processing of materials has a major relevance to support the key actions, in particular "innovative products, processes and organisation".

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