MULTIMAT will make the next step in mesoscale science by combining experimental approaches to build materials by bottom-up assembly in combination with multiscale modelling and in-situ analysis in order to unravel the mechanisms of multiscale assembly.
AIM: MULTIMAT addresses (1) the industrial and societal need for affordable materials that have a highly defined and large porosity together with the required (mechanical, chemical and/or thermal) robustness for application in thermal insulation, catalysts, fuel cells and oil spill remediation and (2) the scientific need to better understand the mechanisms underlying the assembly of small building blocks into larger structures that are ordered hierarchally across multiple scales ("multiscale assembly"). Together this will contribute to achieving MULTIMAT's future aim: Understanding and ultimately steering the bottom-up construction of materials with complex hierarchical structures.
TRAINING: MULTIMAT will train a next generation of scientists (13 ESRs) able to master this complex design-and-assembly process. In this project, intersectoral and interdisciplinary training through research projects, courses, workshops and conferences, will be complemented by transferrable and business skills training, to excellently position them as future leaders in material design.
RESEARCH: MULTIMAT will focus on the assembly of silica-based building blocks towards porous materials with predesigned pore architecture and predictable and optimised mechanical properties. With this focus, MULTIMAT takes inspiration from natural bottom-up strategies, building on recent advances in self-assembly and in-situ imaging to addresses the immediate industrial need for such materials, while the resulting insights and tools will be directly transferable to other material types and physical properties (e.g. magnetic, optical and electrical materials). The MULTIMAT research activities include 1) the design and synthesis of building blocks with tailor made shapes and sizes, 2) their (co)-assembly into ordered structures with predefined mesoscale organisation, 3) the in-situ analysis of the development of morphology of structure during these processes, 4) the simulation of the structure formation from the molecular to the mesoscale level and the prediction of related physical properties, 5) the evaluation and testing of the properties and performance in selected technological applications.
IMPACT: MULTIMAT brings together leading scientists from all relevant disciplines, and a large number of industrial partners, multinationals as well as SMEs. This strong involvement of industry clearly demonstrates the need for researchers educated in steering mesoscale self-organisation. Direct outcomes of the project will include novel building blocks, (super)porous materials with outstanding properties and novel tools for in situ imaging and molecular modelling, all addressing the rapidly growing market of Value Added Materials that is expected to grow at a staggering growth rate of 17% to an estimated EUR 150 billion by 2015.