Chemical manufacturer BASF SE is partnering with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst to research new functional materials, through an initiative called the "North American Center for Research on Advanced Materials."
A major goal of this initiative is to jointly develop new materials for the automotive, building and construction, and energy industries, BASF said. The cooperation is initially planned for five years, during which time approximately 20 new postdoctoral positions will be created at the three universities.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this multidisciplinary, multi-institutional endeavor, which will connect and amplify Harvard’s strengths in advanced materials research,” said Cherry Murray, Dean of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “The agreement reinforces our commitment to the pursuit of cutting-edge research targeted at high-impact areas of application.”
Scientists and engineers from several disciplines such as chemistry, physics, and biology will collaborate in this research initiative. “The academic partners contribute not only their expertise in materials science, modeling, and formulation methods, but also offer interesting, new approaches to conducting research,” BASF said. “Besides fundamental scientific knowledge, BASF researchers will contribute the necessary experience in transforming research results into technically feasible processes and products. In addition, they will provide input about which materials are needed in different industries and applications.”
The ideas and topics to be researched will be decided jointly by the researchers participating in the initiative. Topics already identified include micro- and nanostructured polymers with new properties, as well as what BASF calls "bioinspired" materials. The scientists will work on lightweight construction materials for wind turbines and automotive construction, for example, and on new color effects for cosmetic applications.