Mission and Vision

The National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Bio-Inspired Materials was launched in June 2014. Its vision is to establish an internationally recognized hub for smart materials research, education, and innovation. Its home institution is the University of Fribourg, with the Federal Institutes of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and Zurich (ETHZ) joining as participating institutions. Its operations team is based the Adolphe Merkle Institute, an interdisciplinary and independent center at the University of Fribourg that focuses on research and education in the domain of soft nanomaterials.

The overarching scientific goals of the NCCR are:

  • to take inspiration from natural materials to establish design rules and strategies for the creation of macromolecular and nanomaterial-based building blocks and their assembly into complex, hierarchically ordered stimuli-responsive materials with new and desirable properties;
  • develop a predictive understanding for the interactions of such materials with living cells;
  • and use the generated knowledge to develop innovative applications, particularly in the biomedical field.

Research is organized in four modules that focus on:

  • mechanically responsive materials across different length scales;
  • biologically inspired assembly of optical materials;
  • responsive bio-interfaces and surfaces;
  • and the dynamics of interacting cell-materials systems.

Each of these modules tackles major unsolved problems, provides opportunities for great scientific advances on its own, and requires an interdisciplinary research approach. In the long term, the interconnection of these themes through cross-cutting projects and the common goal of being technologically relevant will create substantial synergies, which can only be harnessed if addressed within a multidisciplinary Center.