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  • Periodic Report Summary 1 - CATSENSE (Design of novel high performance catalysts and biosensors based on deposited mass-selected clusters assisted by computational theoretical screening)

Periodic Report Summary 1 - CATSENSE (Design of novel high performance catalysts and biosensors based on deposited mass-selected clusters assisted by computational theoretical screening)

Catsense, whose goal is to design novel high performance catalysts and biosensors based on gas-phase metal clusters, is training interdisciplinary young researchers in nanotechnology. Catsense's innovative concept is to consider metal clusters science as a new emerging supra-disciplinary field bridging (electro) catalysis (directly applicable to fuel cell technology) and biosensing technologies. This project is based on a strong collaboration between the public and the private sector and should contribute to the reduction of the fragmentation of the nanotechnology sector in Europe and accelerate the pace of discovery of novel high performance nanomaterials.

During the first 24 months of the project the SB has steered intensive coordination efforts to make the network running successfully. A very detailed project website ( has been established. It has both public and password-protected network-wide pages. In parallel Facebook and Linkedin webpages have also been set up. The project has recruited 12 ESRs and 2 ERs among more than 600 applicants; 36% of recruited fellows are females and 50% non-EU national. Fellows with background in Physics, Chemistry and Nanotechnology have applied using the online application form developed on the Catsense website. This has greatly facilitated the coordination between the different partners for the recruitment. Compared to the planned start dates many fellows have started with minor delays.

Regular meetings of the SB are organized every six months, most of the time in combination with a network training event. An Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) is reviewing progress and specifically advices Catsense on business and technological trends. Four Supervisory Board meetings (SBMs) have been organized: the Kick-off meeting in Leuven, Belgium on March 31 and April 1, 2014, SBM2 in Birmingham, UK on November 13-14, 2014, SBM3 in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 17-18, 2015 and the mid-term review meeting in Birmingham, UK on November 5-6, 2015. Two lab Courses ‘Nanocharacterization with electrons’ and ‘Electrochemistry applied to biosensing’ have been organized in combination with SBM2 and SBM3 respectively. One workshop Cluster Science and Catalysis was held at our industrial partner at Droitwich, UK in combination with the Mid-term review meeting.

Moreover, the network has organized the first of a series of three Summer school: 'Physics and Chemistry of Nanoclusters' in Bruges on September 7-11, 2015 that was attended not only by the network fellows, but also by other master and PhD students from the partners of the network, as well as by external participants. In addition to these network-wide activities, the fellows have participated in a wide range of local activities, outreaching events as well as national and international scientific meetings. Most of the fellows have taken language courses at their host institutions.

The fellows have already been largely involved in secondment projects with 35% of the planned secondment months already carried out. Although this is somewhat lower than planned, this progress is evaluated positively in view of the project being only halfway and with the experienced recruitment delays.

Although some initial delay has affected the progress plan of Catsense during the first year, the scientific outcome is now well in line with the original plan and major research achievements have been reached in all the Work Packages. Four papers have been published by members of the network. According to the mid-term reviewer evaluation ‘it is evident that Catsense will provide fellows with relevant research training as well as transferable skills training. The programme is developing many products that potentially may have a high scientific, technical, commercial, and social impact.’

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Life Sciences
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