Bundled expertise for research into the safety of innovative materials: the Leibniz Research Alliance Advanced Materials Safety will commence its work in 2022

Advanced materials exhibit complex and changing properties over their life cycle – a new research alliance of the Leibniz Association, led by INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials in Saarbrücken and the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden e.V., will investigate the effects of such materials on the environment and humans and develop concepts for the production of safe advanced materials

The Leibniz Research Alliance Advanced Materials Safety will begin its work in January 2022, building onto the successful activities of the Leibniz Research Alliance Nanosafety. Over the next four years, 12 Leibniz institutes involved in the development and investigation of advanced materials, the study of the effects of these materials on humans and the environment, research on knowledge transfer, and the development of research data infrastructures will cooperate in several subprojects for this purpose.

Prof. Andreas Fery, one of the spokespersons of the research network from the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research in Dresden, describes the approach as follows: “Advanced materials are essential to meet current challenges, whether in the development of powerful batteries, sensors or new diagnostic possibilities. At the same time, we want to ensure from the outset that the materials are safe for humans and the environment throughout their entire life cycle.”

PD Dr. Annette Kraegeloh of the Leibniz Institute for New Materials, who also serves as a spokesperson for the alliance, adds: “We want to apply the “safe-by-design” approach for this purpose – the safety of materials and finished products should be given greater consideration already during the design and development stage.”

The work in the research alliance brings together partner institutes from the natural and life sciences, educational sciences, and computer science – the interdisciplinary approach is necessary to investigate relevant research questions on the safety of advanced materials.  “The high level of interdisciplinarity is a particular challenge for our young scientists – it not only shifts the boundaries of knowledge significantly but also demands excellent communication skills with other disciplines. Furthermore, communication with the public will also play an important role in the interdisciplinary training program of the PhD students,” explains Dr. Lorenz Kampschulte from the Deutsches Museum in Munich, one of the partners of the network.

Another pillar of the concept is the advancement of a digital infrastructure in which structured and high-quality research data can be used across disciplinary boundaries. This is also welcomed by Christoph van Thriel, who is working on this topic as a member of the toxicology department at Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors at TU Dortmund (IfADo) who is part of the alliance: “In this way, data can be reused, be it to predict effects of the materials or to support manufacturers and authorities in determining the risks of materials and products; a means that is urgently required if we want to keep up with the pace in which new materials are being developed.”

Leibniz Research Alliance Advanced Materials Safety in brief:

  • Funding period: 2022-2025
  • Spokespersons: PD Dr Annette Kraegeloh (INM – Leibniz-Institut for New Materials) & Prof Andreas Fery (Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden (IPF))
  • Coordinator: Dr Christiane Petzold (INM)
  • Link Website: