The primary research theme of the NCCR is to use inspiration from nature to design artificial materials that can change their properties “on command” - in other words, in response to an external stimulus. These materials, sometimes called “smart” or “intelligent”, are of fundamental scientific interest and potentially valuable for countless applications ranging from building climate control to drug delivery systems.
In Phase 1 (2014-2018) and Phase 2 (2018-2022), the NCCR scientists opened new research areas and new research opportunities in existing areas, including nature-inspired polymer recycling, high-throughput emulsification, new displacement-type mechanophores and organoids on-a-chip with the potential to enable the generation of physiologically relevant human tissues and organs.
With the support from the SNSF and its Home Institution, the University of Fribourg, the Center has now started its third and final funding phase (2022-2026) with the goals to continue carrying out paradigm-changing research, increase the number of collaborations across disciplines, focus on the translation of bio-inspired materials research carried out by its members and consolidate the structure of a Center that will carry the legacy of the NCCR beyond the end of Phase 3.
In Phase 3, the NCCR’s research program is organized into three topical modules focusing on mechano-responsive materials, photonic materials, and responsive bio-interfaces, and a module with four translation-oriented projects.