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Coordination of polymer nanotechnology research

EU-funded researchers created a Network of Excellence (NoE) focused on advanced polymer nanotechnologies with the potential to significantly impact European manufacturing in a variety of important fields.

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Nanotechnology is expanding at a rapid pace given the interesting and often superior properties exhibited by structures on the scale of atoms and molecules compared to bulk material properties. In particular, nano-structured polymers and composites have widespread application in optoelectronics and telecommunications, packaging materials, agriculture, automotive, aerospace and biomaterials components. The ‘Nanostructured and functional polymer-based materials and nanocomposites’ (Nanofun-POLY) project was initiated to develop the European Centre for Nanostructured Polymers (ECNP), an NoE to coordinate training, research and dissemination activities related to advanced polymer nanotechnologies. Nanofun-POLY participants included 120 scientists within and outside of Europe, with the latter offering access to knowledge potentially unavailable to certain regions. Scientific areas covered everything from macromolecular and supramolecular chemistry to tailored design methods for nano-structured polymers and polymer composites. Consortium members operated a joint training programme for doctoral students and researchers, and coordinated research activities and sharing of research facilities, tools and platforms. In addition, the ECNP managed the participants’ knowledge portfolio, developed staff mobility and exchange programmes, organised an annual conference and established a number of websites. Communication and dissemination activities included knowledge transfer process technologies as well as campaigns to raise public awareness and understanding of scientific issues. The integrated community of European researchers well connected to the rest of the world should foster research, education and technology transfer related to advanced nano-structured polymer technology with important benefits for the European economy and its consumers.

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