Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - SASSYPOL (Hierarchical Self Assembly of Polymeric Soft Systems)

The production of the next generation of functional soft systems and materials capable of meeting the current and future demands of society in a sustainable manner will require both new technologies and highly trained scientists. Supramolecular chemistry provides a powerful approach to develop new self-assembled materials with emerging properties, such as healability, recyclability and facile processability. The Hierarchical Self-Assembly of Polymeric Soft System (SASSYPOL) ITN program was initiated, on September 1st 2013, to train the next generation of European scientists with the skills necessary to overcome such future demands and simultaneously develop new strategies for the preparation of hierarchically self-assembled polymeric soft systems. This class of soft systems has the potential to greatly impact important fields such as biomedicine, energy, composite materials, sensing and high-throughput technologies.
The ITN unites many leading experts in the areas of supramolecular and polymer chemistry with partners from the industrial sector. Expertise of all partners encompasses the general areas of non-covalent chemistry, with individual research competencies focusing on a number of specific themes including liquid crystalline materials, hydrogen-bonded supramolecules, molecular systems based on host-guest interactions, and advanced modelling and characterisation techniques of complex polymeric and self-assembled materials. The complementarity and diversity realised in synthesis, analysis, and applications is crucial for successful research and training in this area. A number of partners from the private sector will extend the fellows’ training beyond that of traditional academic settings, they will have the critical role of bridging fundamental science with application and commercialisation of the results. Indeed, SupraPolix (a SME), one of SASSYPOL’s industrial full partners is a perfect example of the commercialisation of cutting-edge science, with their technologies initially developed at an academic laboratory. Our activities will thus possess both breadth and quality that can only be achieved through an interdisciplinary pan-European effort.
The SASSYPOL website ( was built by the grant manager before the 6-month period of funding. After the Kick-Off meeting, the management and update-requirements of the website were passed on to the ESR website committee as detailed in the Description of Work. The 10 ESRs are now responsible for updating the ER/ESR biographies, academic/industrial partners’ information, information about upcoming training modules, reporting on the previous training modules, moderating discussion(s) in the forum, and updating the research progress pages of the ERs/ESRs as required. Currently, it is running well with abundant amounts of information about the SASSYPOL ITN being found online.
Following the ITN regulations, the Kick-Off meeting combined with the first training module (TM1) was held in February 2014, and hosted by the partners in Eindhoven, The Netherlands at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). The theme covered at TM1 was the “Fundamentals of Supramolecular Chemistry and Polymer Science”. All beneficiaries who had been hired by February 2014 were present at TM1 and gave an introductory talk about the research in their lab/company and their potential research direction. The second training module (TM2) of the ITN was on ‘Dynamic Hydrogels: From Preparation to Characterisation’ and was held during month 13 of the SASSYPOL ITN (Oct 2014), in Cambridge, UK. The meeting included talks by all of the ESRs on their research progress, and short lecture courses on various aspects of the TM2 topic led by four external research experts and one beneficiary. An Interactive Skills Course on project and time management was also held for the ESRs and ER by an external trainer. The third training module (TM3) was held in Zaragoza, Spain on “Functional liquid crystalline materials” in Feb 2015 (month 17). TM3 covered six lectures led by some invited external academic/industrial experts, each consisting of a detailed tutorial introduction and recent research progress in the liquid crystal science field. The fourth training module (TM4) of the ITN was on “Molecular simulation and modelling” and was again held in Cambridge, UK in June 2015 (month 21). TM4 covered five brief, systematic tutorial lectures, delivering hands-on training in fundamental Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations that are most relevant for polymer science and self-assembly, functional soft systems, as well as an eight-hour computer lab for each ESR and ER. The mid-term summer school (SS) was held in Ischia, Italy (Sept 3-7 2015, month 25), all members of the ITN, including a number of supervisory board members, and several external invited speakers and visiting scientists was present for the summer school, contributing to a wonderful scientific environment. This SS covered both training and research components in the form of short courses and lectures by the external experts as well as presentations of research results by each of the ESRs and ERs in the ITN. The Management Committee and Supervisory Board also met jointly so that critical feedback was given to the partners on the functioning of SASSYPOL ITN as a network, and specifically on the training programme and research progress made thus far. To keep track of the research progress, 6-monthly progress reports have been collected. Each report is structured to help the ESRs and ERs summarize their recent research progress and scientific activities/achievement in the last few months, and update their Personal Career Development Plans. During the following TMs, these reports were circulated to interested beneficiaries and the supervisory board to review the progress of each individual ESR and ER within the grant.
Since the beginning of this SASSYPOL ITN, there have been great advances in the scientific aspects within supramolecular and polymer self-assembly. As planned, we will be focused on pushing further with current progress, leading to more scientific outputs in the next reporting period. The final research targets are expected to provide advances in some of the key areas of high topical interest, such as:
(1) Hydrogels, which may find use in biomedical applications such as tissue engineering and wound healing.
(2) Nanoporous membranes.
(3) Soft responsive materials for microfluidic applications.
(4) Interface adhesion, self-healing and polymer compatibilisation.


Renata Schaeffer, (European Policy Manager)
Tel.: +44 1223 333543
Fax: +44 1223 332988


Life Sciences
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