Leibniz Research Alliance Advanced Materials Safety

Advanced materials contribute significantly in a wide range of applications, from the generation of green hydrogen, to catalysis, energy storage and biomedicine. As such, they are critical to the development and deployment of important future technologies. Often, however, their contribution goes widely unnoticed.

Advanced materials combine different nano- and/or microscale building blocks into hierarchically structured hybrid materials. The combination of different components and the many possible compositions give rise to a complex hazard potential. The aim of the researchers of the Leibniz Research Alliance Advanced Materials Safety is therefore to investigate the safety of advanced materials throughout their entire life cycle.

Infographic illustrating the working methods of the research alliance. Four work areas are represented as separate platforms in the graphic: 1. Functionality - design concepts for safe materials, 2. Safety and sustainability - impacts on human health and the environment, 3. Acceptability - knowledge transfer, 4. Reliable data - infrastructures for multidisciplinary research data. The platforms are connected in the background by a path and in the foreground by icons representing research results.

Using example materials from the fields of energy and biomedicine, guidelines for safe and sustainable advanced materials are created and their effects on human health and environmental organisms are determined. Public perceptions of novel materials will be investigated, which in turn will benefit the researchers themselves for their own communication strategies. The individual projects will be supported by the development of a FAIR-compatible research data infrastructure.

In order to do justice to the complexity of the project, the research network brings together researchers with different areas of expertise: Materials Sciences, Biology and Toxicology, Computer Science, Educational Sciences and Science Communication.

Five doctoral students work on five case studies. They benefit from an interdisciplinary research environment with research stays at different institutes of the alliance and a close exchange between the partner institutes. With a framework program of regular events and workshops, the network promotes additional key competencies of the doctoral students, such as the communication of complex research topics and data management.

What are advanced materials?

Advanced Materials show improved performance compared to “traditional” materials. Examples are intentionally regulated optical or electrical properties that make them attractive in specific applications. Special properties can for instance be obtained by combining nano- and microscale building blocks or by combining molecules of similar or different material classes to obtain complex, tailor-made nanoparticles.

Further reading on advanced materials
  1. Advanced materials European Commission (last accessed 21 February 2022)
  2. Giese B, Drapalik M, Zajicek L, Jepsen D, Reihlen A, Zimmermann T, Advanced materials: Overview of the field and screening criteria for relevance assessment. Umweltbundesamt Juli 2020, Texte 132/2020, ISSN 1862-4804. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/publikationen/advanced-materials-overview-of-the-field-screening
  3. Schwirn K, Völker D, Haase A, Tentschert J,Bernauer U, Packroff R, Bachmann V, Risk Governance of Advanced Materials – Considerations from the joint perspective of the German Higher Federal Authorities BAuA, BfR and UBA. Dezember 2021, Texte 156/2021, ISSN 1862-4804. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/en/publikationen/risk-governance-of-advanced-materials
  4. 5. Dialogphase: FachDialog 4 Chancen und Risiken von Neuartigen Materialien (11.05.2020), Informationspapiere und Tagungsdokumente: https://www.bmuv.de/download/5-dialogphase-fachdialog-4-chancen-und-risiken-von-neuartigen-materialien/
About the research alliance

The research alliance is funded by the Leibniz Association. The alliance started its work in January 2022 and will coordinate and support research on common topics in its first funding period until December 2025.

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