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Development requires open discussion and the challenge of existing with new ideas. This is more true now than ever, as we are living in an exceptional era that comes to the speed of technology development and the dynamics of global markets. It is evident that the competitive advantage of today does not secure the success of the future and we need to continuously seek new opportunities. This is era is, however, an exciting one as the continuous change creates a wide horizon of new interesting possibilities for us. We just need to be the first one in the market to exploit these… And this is a challenge for the overall innovation process of companies and value chains.

In practice, optimising the whole “property value chain”, material manufacturing process end product operation environment, is needed in order to maximise the customer value. This is challenging for individual material producer as it requires multiple expertise from various application areas and technologies over the “property value chain”. The solution for this is effective innovation and co-creation with effective practices throughout this chain.

FIMECC Ltd., an open innovation R&D company, tackle this issue by facilitating concrete cooperation between companies and research institutes in order to create concrete results for the emerging opportunities of the markets. The key ideas behind are strong commitment of leading industry players under common targets and lean network based approach with wide value chain coverage.

Currently FIMECC is running two material focused programs: Breakthrough Steel and Applications (FIMECC BSA) and Hybrids materials (FIMECC HYBRIDS). Both these programs address the critical application driven material challenges and seeks the best possible solutions for these in co-operation with the “property value chain” partners. While the FIMECC BSA focus on steels and their novel applications, FIMECC HYBRIDS tackles the surface related issues and widens the solution portfolio from steels to other materials and material combinations. Both the programs are initiated by the final application demands and seeks significantly better results with shorten time-to-market than any partner could do individually.

The programs have also another common target, which is more strategic: They aim to speed up radically the materials development process by using novel digital technologies. The idea behind is that the characteristics and requirements of the end product operation environment are filed into novel materials simulators which then calculates the best applicable material concepts. This would enable effective interplay between the “property value chain” while it decreases the need of expensive and time consuming material testing and improves the “hit rate” of the novel materials concepts to the end requirements.

To realise this target, intensive research and development actions are needed as the final solution should combine novel simulation tools with the deep fundamental understanding of the material properties and processing. The programs have engaged over 35 doctoral thesis researcher and their supervisors for this challenge and the outcomes are very promising. While there are still work to be done, it is evident that this kind of capabilities which radically speed-up concrete co-creation with right partners and right targets are essentials in the future.

We in FIMECC believe that no one of us is as smart as all of us together - We just need to be led in a manner that we get most of us all. FIMECC engages over 160 organisations and over 2000 experts. In addition to material development, FIMECC speeds-up co-creation in the areas of smart production, novel digital solutions and new value creation mechanisms of the metals and engineering industry. Our network based approach enables dynamic multidisciplinary ecosystems which can effectively find opportunities and exploit them in an agile manner. This is a significant knowledge base and a powerful asset for effective innovation. We welcome all those who are willing to contribute to the common goals and to take most out of the co-creation. Find more information from www.fimecc.com

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Italy has put long the development of renewable sources as a priority of its energy policy, together with the promotion of energy efficiency. Despite the strong increase in the number of operators active on the Italian market for renewable energy, there are shortages of expertise and strategic technologies that not allow independence and advanced technological developments from abroad.

In recent years the Italian industry has grown at reduced rates, in a context in which predominated the small size of domestic producers and the significant reliance on international markets to meet the demand for components and systems for the production of energy from renewables. Due to the small producers and the excessive fragmentation of local experiences (both in research and development of products / energy services, is part of the investments for the activation of technological chains), in the absence of a strategy interregional agreed, however, it has often penalized the potential results obtainable with the resources in the field. The trend indicated is confirmed by the regions of the Southern Italy where the delay is greater than the rest of the country.

The socio-economic context of Calabria Region is characterized by a persistent economic gap compared with the other Italian regions to European countries. Very low is the presence of manufacturing activities to higher value-added services to greater technological content and innovation. The creation of a technological District on Advanced Materials for Renewable Energy - MATELIOS is for the region of Calabria an extraordinary opportunity through which they can be achieved higher levels of technical and economic competitiveness in advanced technology sectors such as those linked to manufacturing technologies and production advanced materials for the renewable energy sector, particularly in the areas of photovoltaics and wind energy, intervening in the fields of research, innovation, competitive growth of the sector, the formation of human capital.

In the world there are many examples of districts in which different subjects, research institutions and entrepreneurs, promote initiatives that go to integrate with each other even in areas with little or no industrialization. These technological districts have developed in countries without an industrial tradition since, in countries where there are no alternatives attractive business, the cost / opportunity to invest in new projects is lower than in most industrialized countries.

The Technology District  has as its objective the study and development of advanced materials and technologies for the implementation of systems of production of energy from renewable sources. The technologies that are the subject of research and development have as main feature the transverse fields of application in order to promote technology transfer and use in different industrial sectors.

The initiatives of the Technological District are consistent with the overall objective of the growth of the Calabria Region and will focus on four broad objectives:

achieve international excellence in research;
promoting new technological entrepreneurship;
disseminate and promote the technological innovation in the production system of Calabria;
become a magnet for top international talent.

Those who founded MATELIOS are research centers, universities and research institutions such as the CSM, ENEA, the University of Calabria and inter-university consortia such as INSTM and CNISM. There are also some companies, mainly SMEs, already on the territory of Calabria or in the process of establishing in Calabria a research laboratory or a new production plant. Lastly, the participation of the Consortium Lamezia Europe which will favor the establishment in Calabria of new business initiatives.

MATELIOS activities are centered on a set of research projects and training developed by individuals capable of supporting the development of the productive base and the improvement of regional competitiveness.

One of the major factors of competitiveness of the modern manufacturing industry is the development of new progressive systems, subsystems and components, more and more efficient in terms of cost / effectiveness. In this context, the material plays a primary role, as a factor which focus on both strategic elements of cost (raw materials, processing, etc.) and some of the key performance characteristics (strength and environment, specific functions of use , weight, etc.).

In the specific area of alternative energy, the centrality of the innovative material as a possible element of increased competitiveness is further configured as a strategic element. Just think of the field of photovoltaics, where even the specific product sectors identify with the various functional materials (mono and polycrystalline silicon, thin film semiconductors, organic thin films, etc.) and where most of its innovations are the development of materials alternative to those currently used.

The District is configured so focused on a strategic element (material) in the general context of innovation in the field of alternative energy. Thanks to the knowledge of the needs and characteristics of the advanced materials sector and working through key channels with other agencies both national and territorial (Technological Districts, Innovation clusters, incubators, business associations, ..........), They can complete the picture the skills needed to achieve technological and economic advantages for companies Calabrian MATELIOS is proposed as a primary subject for establishing and coordinating a network of partnerships in order to trigger a mechanism of creation, growth and self sustenance of the high-tech Calabria.

The technologies that will be the subject of activities MATELIOS will have as main feature the transverse fields of application in order to promote technology transfer and use in different industrial sectors.

The selection of these technologies, therefore, will present itself in induced large manufacturing companies nationally and internationally and also manufacture products with high technological content and high level of automation, and competitive even if made in Europe.

The District also plans to promote the internationalization process with the aim of promoting the integration of the main technological realities of the territory, both research and business, in the main European countries and international companies operating in the sector. MATELIOS finally constitute a potential basis for the development of all relationships, in terms of renewable energy, with the countries of the Mediterranean basin.

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In 2004, the Campania Region, in agreement with the Italian Ministry of Research and Education, has promoted the establishment of IMAST, the technological district on Engineering of Polymeric and Composite Materials, in order to improve the regional economic development and create high quality employment by increasing the number of the innovative companies.


The Campania region has distinctive and internationally recognized skills in this S&T field, (about 25% of the Italian papers published in this field on the most important specialized international journals; one of the most cited researcher in the world is from Campania region),about 600 researchers involved in this area (65% of which are employed in public research centers), a network of collaborations with important international institutions (e.g. Stanford University, Penn State University, MIT and CNRS) and companies. The choice to concentrate facilities, resources and expertise in the S&T field of polymeric and composite materials is based on the characteristics of this area, namely cross border research activities, high competitiveness, extreme versatility of research applications, verifiable impact on the employment in the medium and long term.

Shareholders of IMAST are universities, public research institutions, some of the largest Italian companies performing research activities in the field of the engineering of polymeric and composite materials and the Bank of Naples Foundation. For this consortium IMAST plays the role of Knowledge Integrator and creates mixed groups of public and private researchers on specific research projects. According to the IMAST model the enterprises of the cluster are companies that do not compete each other. They have internationally recognized “in-house” research facilities and decide to develop skills and knowledge within the district, by identifying the district as a source of qualified resources, knowledge and shared interests. So, IMAST represents the first case in Italy, where some of the largest national companies are involved on the same project, integrating its own specific know-how and creating mixed groups, technicians-researchers, on common projects.

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The IMAST research and innovation application fields range from transport to polymeric electronics and biomedical. In such fields the activities of IMAST are organized according fourth main strategic priorities:

Achieving excellence in international research

Attracting and training talents

Intercepting and attracting private investment

Accelerating technological innovation of regional and national industries

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Research laboratories and equipments of IMAST members are located mainly but not exclusively in Campania Region and cover all the areas related to the material S&T: numerical simulation and data processing, materials preparation, thermal and thermomechanical test, viscosimetric and rheological test, biological test, mechanical test, environmental and corrosion test, vibroacoustic test, electrical test, microscopy and spectroscopy, wind tunnel, manufacture and technological processes, non destructive analysis, electromagnetic properties. Based on industrial partner needs, market investigation and the lack of similar structures in southern Italy, IMAST set up a fire laboratorywhich offers a multi-disciplinary approach for developing composite materials with improved fire resistance, through thermal and thermo-mechanical modelling, synthesis of new materials and the development of suitable qualification protocols.

 


IMAST in figures

Up to now IMAST has:

-     Managed a portfolio of 29 research projects with an average budget of 10 millions/year

-     Involved in its projects an average of 240 researchers/year: 30% women and 25% new researchers

-     Involved 62 SMEs

-     Filed 16 patents

-     Published 76 paper in international scientific journals, 99 papers in the international conference proceedings and 2 books

-     Performed training on-the-job programs for 94 young post-graduated students to match industry needs

-     90% of new researchers involved in the IMAST research activities got permanent contracts after the research project end

-     About 77% of the young post-graduated students got a permanent contract 3 months after the training program end.


IMAST activities:

Attraction of companies and international network

  • Opening
  • IMAST is the Italian reference of the Boeing global network and the European reference of the KIAT, the Korean agency for R&I

Promotion of new technology entrepreneurship

  • IMAST funds Fulbright BEST (Business Exchange and Student Training), sponsored by the US Embassy in Italy and implemented by the Fullbright Commission
  • IMAST organizes and funds the international business plan competition "Polymerchallenge" with a seed fund 300,000

For more information on IMAST scarl:

http://www.imast.biz

2500 European Materials Scientist met in Poland’s capital city

“Materials for Europe” – an event organized by the European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) and the Federation of European Materials Societies (FEMS), under the umbrella of the European Materials Forum (EMF) and the Alliance for Materials (A4M), was held in Poland’s capital Warsaw on 19 September 2015. “Materials for Europe” was established as integral part of a “Materials Weekend”, bridging the two largest materials conferences ever held in Central Europe, the E-MRS Fall Meeting and the FEMS EUROMAT conference. Both conferences and the “Materials Weekend” aimed at strengthening materials science and engineering in Europe and increasing its visibility. The goal was to demonstrate that the development and the application of new materials are essential to meet societal needs associated with energy, health, transport and climate change. The “Materials for Europe” programme provided an important platform for material researchers from academia as well as industry and politicians to attain a consensus on the road to the future. More than 70 invited VIP participants discussed with Clara de la Torre, the European Commission’s Director DG Research and Innovation of the Directorate for Key Enabling Technologies. Mrs. Torre presented her strategic view “Vision about the new challenges in the materials field”. She focused on the vital role of materials for a highly competitive European industry and explained the Commission’s effective approaches to coordinate research and innovation within the framework of the present and future European research programs and initiatives.

The major issues discussed were:

  1. The innovation policy in Europe and the role of materials in this context. The concept of the European Innovation Council to complement the well-established European Research Council was highlighted. Emphasis was put on the need to follow-up and evaluate projects ensuring that technological breakthroughs relevant to European industry are identified and market uptake is facilitated..
  2. The need to strengthen the new concept of a “Common House of Materials”. It should aim at discussing and integrating cross-cutting fields where materials are key prerequisites for development and progress.
  3. Smart infrastructures and how to empower them/link them to regional cluster.
  4. The connection between The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme and the allocated national structural funds, focussing on various strategies and policies to gain the maximum benefit.

The “Materials Weekend” consisted of many more parts than the “Materials for Europe” event. 180 scientists and engineers from all over the world attended six tutorial courses on leading edge materials developments such as graphene, biomaterials, materials for energy and computer modelling of materials. A topic as well was the materials value and innovation chain. During a 2-day “Young Scientists Workshop”, 55 participants presented their latest research results complemented by an intensive exchange of experiences and expectations. The importance of this event was underlined by the support of the German and French Embassy in Poland as well as the Warsaw University of Technology. The Warsaw “Festival of Science” was opened at Warsaw University of Technology, the venue of the two materials conferences. In this framework scientists and students presented numerous activities related to advanced materials. . They demonstrated materials-based innovations particularly for the Warsaw community at large with a special focus on stimulating the interest of children youngsters.

 

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In December 2014, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) decided to fund a new knowledge and innovation community on raw materials. With six co-location centres around Europe and headquarters in Berlin, the newly established EIT Raw Materials is among the largest innovation clusters globally in the raw materials sector: the expected EIT funding is estimated to be more than €200 million during the first five years of operation. The investment aims to leverage new business in the raw material sector through commercialisation of research results, establishment of new start-ups, accelerated growth of SME’s, as well as new ways to support a business mind-set and entrepreneurship in education. The different actions in EIT Raw Materials are expected to help creating 10 000 new jobs, starting 50 new companies and train 8000 new entrepreneurs in Europe.  

The EIT Raw Materials consortium consists of more than 120 companies, universities and research organisations from 22 EU countries. Jointly, the business partners of EIT Raw Materials represent more than 700 000 jobs and €200 billion turnover. The industry represents a full coverage of value chains and commodities: from mining and metals producers to end-product manufacturers and recycling companies. EIT Raw Materials gives specific attention to four focus markets with a dual aim of securing their raw material needs and providing better products, processes and services: 1) Machinery & Equipment, 2) Mobility, 3) ICT, and 4) Energy Supply.

EIT Raw Materials operates through its six co-location centres situated in a geographically balanced way in Europe: Espoo (FI), Leuven (BE), Luleå (SE), Metz (FR), Rome (IT) and Wroclaw (PL). More information: www.eitrawmaterials.eu

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Institut Marey -Maison de la Métallurgie, 64 B Rue de sully 21000 Dijon

Context

This paper concerns a French plan of actions for a concerted deployment in Bourgogne and in Lorraine of HIP (CIC: Compaction Isostatique à Chaud in french) equipments named CICéRON. This latter will be in direct connexion with the powder metallurgy emergence. It will develop metallurgical industries of the future with high-value-creating jobs of tomorrow on French strategic segments such as aerospace, automotive, railways, energy and defense.

To promote powder metallurgy, diffusion joining, rapid prototyping (direct net-shape manufacturing) and post-treatment by densification of metallic parts from additive manufacturing, the concerted construction on the national territory of platforms equipped with HIP equipments whose complementarity will cover the whole chain of maturation appears fundamental to the leaders of the project CICéRON. Face to the importance of the investment in HIP equipments to raise the technological and industrials locks, especially those which relate to the mastery of the scaling-up, the project leaders of Burgundy and Lorraine regions, have decided to join us in order to bring a best response to the requirements of powder metallurgy network.

This complementarity allows us to satisfy all economic, technical, environmental and organizational challenges through a national project for the development of the CICéRON and to present a gradation of multiple HIP machines on the national territory, with a goal of deployment of operational platforms of 2018. The project will be composed of three phases in direct relationship with the dimension of samples produced by these HIP equipments.

The first is CICéRON 200 with an HIP of small sizes for levels of TRL ranging from 1 to 3, in particular, a HIP machine of 200 mm in diameter installed at the University of Bourgogne in Dijon (December 2015), which will complement the CIC-100 mm already installed for several years at the CEA Liten to Grenoble.

CICéRON 660 - A second level of diameter 660 mm located at Le Creusot in order to make developments (TRL 3 to 7) preparing the industrialization of parts by the CIC technology, then the production of small series, in the framework of a Center in Powder Metallurgy for the research and development and the semi-industrialization. This latter will be in direct connection with CICéRON 200. The enclosure will be versatile and well instrumented.

CICéRON 1600 - A third level of diameter 1600 mm has for objective to equip the Lorraine of a platform of industrial size essential to meet the challenges of industrial tomorrow for the three main applications that are powder metallurgy, welding by diffusion and 3D printing for the metal (TRL 5 to 9). The enclosure can also be used to repair the foundry parts of large size.


CICéRON 200

The University of Bourgogne, associated to the French cluster of Nuclear Industry (PNB), wish to establish a center of excellence in powder metallurgy in Burgundy for the semi-industrialization of large metallic or ceramic components and / or complex shape to meet the industrial needs. Burgundy has already a network of industrial, laboratories and platforms of the University of Bourgogne, allowing relying on real skills in relevant areas (metallurgy, mechanical and non-destructive testing).This center will have the ambition to offer the manufacture of metallic and ceramic prototypes of parts/assemblies with complex shape and / or large dimensions in a semi-industrial version by means of powder metallurgy. This center will be multi-sectoral and will serve all industries as Aerospace, Nuclear, Oil & Gas and Defense.

This center of excellence CICéRON 200, located in the new building named Institut Marey - Maison de la Metallurgy will have three operational machines already purchased: two SPS machines (Spark Plasma Sintering) and one HIP equipment (Hot Isostatic Pressing) which will be installed in December. The official opening of this center will occur after the French HIP 2016 conference organized by SF2M at Dijon (February, 2nd 2016).

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Location of CICERON 200 at Dijon, it corresponds to the number (2) in the left figure.

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Equipments present in CICéRON 200 (Dijon): (a) SPS equipment for research (10 to 40mm) (b) SPS equipment for for both R&D and industrial manufacturing (30 to 160 mm) (c) HIP for both R&D and industrial manufacturing (30 to 200 mm).

This center of expertise CICéRON 200 will consist of 8 highly qualified people (engineers, PhD) to meet the needs of manufacturers and laboratories wishing to conduct operations on powder metallurgy for components and assemblies with dimensions up to 200 mm.

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The main aims and ambitions are to:

  1. Manufacture by powder metallurgy prototype parts and assemblies of metals and ceramics and with complex shape at an industrial scale.
  2. Control these parts using innovative technologies of non-destructive testing (surface and dimensional).
  3. Accompany the industrial partners in all stages of the product manufacturing from design to realization at the industrial scale including recycling step.
  4. Provide training sessions for the industrial partners in powder metallurgy and in innovative non-destructive technologies.
  5. Qualify the product (determination of lifetime, mechanical properties and corrosion resistance as well as controls associated to manufactured parts and assemblies: non-destructive testing and geometric controls) according to the codes and standards.


The ambition of CICéRON 200 is to determine the feasibility in production, cost and skills for metal parts by powder metallurgy means. The Industrial partners will have decision criteria to produce such parts or assemblies to a larger manufacturing scale in powder metallurgy for their company. CICéRON 200 will realize all stages from fundamental research (choice of powders, selection of good mechanical properties, choice of processes, simulations, basic prototyping and feasibility) to prototyping and control of the components to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the final product. For small components, CICéRON 200 can provide products of small series. These steps take into account the durability and the recycling of products. It is essential to demonstrate, beyond the possibility of manufacturing the part or assembly, if this last one has a lifetime similar or greater compared to the product performed by a traditional production way and if potential gains in energy and raw materials are achievable. Similarly, the recyclability of materials is essential for sustainable development of the industrial chain.

It will be important to demonstrate to industrial partners if the new process of powder metallurgy manufacturing will provide greater performance for his product in terms of:

  • mechanical properties, homogeneity and control of materials, lifetime (essential in aeronautics, aerospace and nuclear industries for strategic components such as nuclear power plants components (60 years) and aircraft (engines and landing gears)),
  • recyclability of materials, manufacturing cost, product cycle time compared to classical manufacturing (forging, casting, machining, welding, rolling, heat treatment, extrusion,…),

All these criteria will help on the choice for designing the product in the future. In addition, the gain of raw materials and the minimal use of finishing processes (machining, heat treatment) will be important criteria for the manufacturer to measure the costs involved in the production of the part or assembly using powder metallurgy.

Contacts

Pr. Frédéric BERNARD, Université de Bourgogne (ICB – UMR 6303 CNRS)

Tel : 06-87-46-90-84

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Nicolas RICHARD, Pôle Nucléaire de Bourgogne (PNB)

Tel : 06-18-55-68-98

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

kuvaaa

 

Smart Textiles has developed a unique structure and environment based on the interplay between research and business development as work with both companies and research projects. The Swedish School of Textiles is unique in Sweden in terms of education, research, and development in the textile field, as well as because of the full-scale workshops which offer access to all textile processes and the assistance of top specialists. The collaboration between the University, Smart Textiles, research institutions, and external partner businesses has been expanded and has resulted in a number of products and prototypes over the past three years. Through Smart Textiles, western Sweden, which has its textile centre in Borås, is set to establish an internationally leading position in the design, development, and production of the next generation of textile products. An important part of this related to Smart Textiles is becoming a national player in the textile field, with strong connections to university colleges/universities, research institutes, the business community, trade organisations, authorities, among others. As a cluster and innovation system, Smart Textiles has two primary roles; to provide an innovation system that results in products, and to create a national and international centre for textile research and development.

With Smart Textiles, a large part of the health monitoring can be done from home in the future.

One example is a regular shirt with integrated sensors that can be used to measure breathing and heart activity and thereby reducing the number of visits to the hospital.

Li Guo, Smart Textiles, wrote her thesis about “Textile-Based Sensors and Smart Clothing System for Respiratory Monitoring”. She has designed a piece of clothing that can sense the movement of the abdomen and thorax as you breathes. The shirt
with integrated sensors that measures breathing and transmits signals to an electronic device.

Interactive textiles
-Clothing that interact with the environment can become part of the future health care, says Li Guo. The shirt may for example be used for self-diagnosis, as a basis for the physician and as an alarm in case of respiratory problems.

I
n the event of respiratory difficultiesasignal will be sent directly to the hospital, so that lives can be saved. Breathing difficulties are more common than perhaps thought, and for people suffering from sleep apnea or stress-related conditions, Li Guo's invention could be a great help. Instead of time-consuming hospital visits, the patient can monitor their breathing at home – by putting on a shirt.

Smart homes
There is complicated research behind the concept, but the method is simple to use. The stretchable material adapts to the shape of the body and sends signals to an electronic unit, which in turn makes it possible for a healthcare professional to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment.

The garment can become part of the smart home in the future, which actively interacts with the people who live there, says Li Guo.

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Photo: Anna Sigge

Unique bandage
Health and Medicine is one of Smart Textiles focus areas and there have been several successful projects that have reached the market as products. One example is PressCise - a bandage with unique properties for treatment and nursing at clinics and self-care e.g. for compression treatment after varicose vein surgery. Today, the result from varicose vein surgeries and leg ulcers varies, depending on education and experience of the person who apply the bandage. Without the knowledge needed it can result in bruising, swelling and prolonged healing of the wound.

Easy application
PressCise unique textile material in combi­nation with a visual guide, for application, makes it easier to apply. When the markings on the banda­ge are in a straight line, you know that you have applied it correctly. Then the product gives a defined and even pressure, invariant of circumference of the leg or who does the bandaging. These markings, in combination with the uniquely developed textile material, results in a completely new compression bandage for medical, sports and veterinary medicine. PressCise has recently obtained the European CE marking for medical advices.

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Photo: Anna Sigge

Knitted stent
The development of Smart Textiles project with the Unravelling Stent continues. A stent is used to expand a clogged blood vessel. The problem with traditional stents is that they are per­manently in the body after surgery. This can sometimes lead to complications such as de­velopment of scar tissue which will block the vessel all-over again. This knitted stent is possible to unravel and remove when the vessel is expanded and healed.

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Photo: Angelica Därnlöf

Underwear for incontinence
Smart Textiles has been involved in the development of Wundies - underwear that helps women with the problem of incontinence to live a normal life. It is a revolutionary innovation with built-in protection in the panties. It has a layer of a superabsorbent material that captures and holds the liquid, 40 times its own weight. By using this material women with incontinence can continue to live an active life. Wundies was successfully been launched at the market.

 

Text: Angelica Därnlöf

 

The UCM- Research Group “Physics of Electronic Nanomaterials” (www.finegroup.es) is active since more than 20 years. The current research of the FINE group refers to the relationship between the structural features of electronic nanomaterials and their optical and electronic local properties. Most of the investigated materials are semiconductor nanomaterials, mainly oxides, synthesized by thermal evaporation methods. Nanostructures with a large variety of morphologies, with predominance of elongated structures such as nanowires, nanoneedles or nanobelts, are grown and characterized. The Group has a large experience in application of different micro- and nanocharacterization techniques to the study of structural, optical and electronic properties, including problems related to energy levels, dopant incorporation, electronic recombination, surface effects, crystal defects, growth mechanisms, etc.

As recent example of success and research excellence, the study on “Spatially and quantitatively controlled anatase-to-rutile transformation by micropatterning of TiO2” can be mentioned. This study has been carried out in collaboration with the UCM- Research Group “Non-molecular Inorganic Materials” , it has lead to two patents and several publications, and was selected as finalist in the Emerging Technologies Competition held in London on the 29Th June 2015. The proposed technology allows exploiting and tailoring specific functionalities of TiO2 nanoparticles, and to explore the fabrication and design of novel TiO2 based devices. TiO2 nanoparticles exhibit different properties not only due to their size, composition and defect structure, but also due to their crystalline phase, since anatase is a metastable phase, which transforms irreversibly into the rutile structure showing different properties and applications. The anatase to rutile transition (ART) is not totally understood so far and thus several issues still need to be addressed. Application examples of both anatase and rutile phases include (photo)catalysis (for which anatase is the preferred phase), and pigments and sunscreens (for which rutile is the commonly used phase). High performance devices based on TiO2 should include a quantitative and spatial controlled mixture of phases, which depending on the final application, can be required to operate in a wide range of temperatures.

Our technology addresses this challenge by synthesizing doped (Al, Fe) TiO2 nanoparticles by a modified Pechini method. This “Liquid-Mix method”, using polymeric precursors, allows us to obtain doped anatase nanoparticles with high homogeneity in size (around 5 nm) and composition, with high dopant cationic concentration (up to 30 % cat.) avoiding phase segregation (Figure 1). The presence of dopants alters the ART process, which can be exploited in order to extend the applicability of this material. The kinetics of the ART process generated by thermal annealing or laser irradiation has been studied, and new insights have been provided; such as, the influence of the dopants (Al, Fe) in the ART, the key role played by the Ti-O bonding at the surface, the relevance of Ti3+ and oxygen deficiency, and the formation of rutile nucleation points at twinned regions. On the other hand, promotion of the ART can be achieved by Fe doping. In this case, spatial control of the ART can be generated by laser irradiation, which results in rutile or mixed anatase/rutile phases, and can be locally promoted in different areas with micrometric resolution. This allows performing micropatterning based on titania polymorphs (Figure 2) which assures significant progress in future micro-device designs.

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Figure 1. (a) Low magnification TEM image of Ti0.8Fe0.2O2 nanoparticles. (b) HRTEM image of single nanoparticle. (c) FFT of [001] zone axis and (d) I-FFT image showing “a” parameter and unit cell.

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Figure 2. Scheme of the controlled positioning of the laser spot and the translational stage on which the sample is placed in order to perform micropatterning of a rutile “T“ on the surface of the anatase Ti0.8Fe0.2O2 sample.