Material for afterthought

Tuesday 15 August marked the kick-off of a new strategic research centre at Science and Technology. The event provided the many visitors with deep insight into the materials research of the future. In setting up iMAT, the strategic aim is to gather the many materials research activities carried out at Aarhus University, and to create synergy between the different academic groupings, and between the university and a number of companies.

2017.08.18 | Rasmus Rørbæk

Many visitors attended iMAT’s first event at Aarhus University. (Photo: Lars Kruse)

Rector Brian Bech Nielsen stated the importance of a centre like iMAT for societal development. (Photo: Lars Kruse)

Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen initiated the establishment of several interdisciplinary research centres at Aarhus University in areas of importance to society. iMAT is the second of a total of seven centres opening in 2017. (Photo: Lars Kruse)

Among the speakers were representatives from world-leading companies, including Ernst Lutz, the Grundfos Group, who provided the visitors with an enthusiastic presentation of the importance of research for a company like his. (Photo: Lars Kruse)

Professor Bo Brummerstedt Iversen is director of the new Centre for Integrated Materials Research at Science and Technology. (Photo: Lars Kruse)

One needed to get there early to be sure of a seat in the lecture theatre at iNANO House in Aarhus when the Centre for Integrated Materials Research (iMAT) held its first official event. All the seats were taken by interested visitors well before the speeches began.

The main focal point at the centre is to gather the strong research environments at a number of departments and centres, and create a specific focus on materials research, cutting across the usual academic boundaries. This includes an aim to make the research infrastructure accessible to industry, and to build up additional value and potential for collaboration.

iMAT can gather focus on this world-leading science taking place at the university, and ensure a much stronger position in Denmark and abroad, as well as making a more active contribution to finding solutions to a number of the UN’s global issues – the grand challenges. This point was emphasised by Rector Brian Bech Nielsen in his speech.

“I think you can sum up the importance of this centre in one single sentence: ‘Matter is materials, and materials matter’. It’s my pleasure to stand here before you and join in the inauguration of this materials research centre at Aarhus University. This field has been designated to play a key role in meeting some of the grand challenges we’re faced with as a global society. With this centre, we’ve gathered the right people – they’re working with the right challenges at the right time. Aarhus University has a unique opportunity to work on the complex issues in this field via interdisciplinary research, because iMAT will gather the strong research activities found at Science and Technology,” said Rector Brian Bech Nielsen, addressing the visitors in the crowded lecture theatre at iNANO House in Aarhus.

The Centre for Integrated Materials Research is one of a total of seven strategic research centres being established at Science and Technology in 2017. They represent an ambitious focus on research strategy with international impact, aimed at ensuring interdisciplinary research in a number of areas that are vital for society by gathering expertise and research facilities in a way that can cover not only future research efforts in Denmark, but also research strategies at an EU level.

The strategic research centres are being set up to ensure interdisciplinary research collaboration and cooperation with the business sector, municipalities and regions. The idea is that collaboration cutting across the faculty can significantly strengthen and highlight an area of research where there is not only considerable societal potential, but also an opportunity to build up a leading international activity with a large research volume and great societal impact.

“I couldn’t imagine a more perfect venue for opening this centre than here at iNANO, which is one of our shining beacons for interdisciplinary research activities. Materials research is a field of considerable importance for a number of growth areas, and it’s important not only for researchers and students, but also for our many partners in the business sector and for Denmark in general. By establishing this centre, the ambition is to gather focus on this world-leading science taking place here at the university, and to achieve leading positions in Denmark and abroad regarding grand challenges and a number of growth technology areas,” said Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen.

iMAT will focus on finding answers to some of the important questions concerning areas such as sustainable energy, construction, environmentally responsible technologies, transport and electronics, as well as the UN’s grand challenges. Another task is to strengthen and support collaboration with the business sector.

iMAT is a conglomerate that includes the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, the Department of Geoscience and the Department of Engineering, as well as the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre (iNANO), where the extensive business collaboration that already takes place will be consolidated and expanded. One of the representatives for this part of the work at iMAT – Group Executive Vice President for Business Development Ernst Lutz, the Grundfos Group – made no secret of the fact that the work facing the centre is both in demand and very important.

“As far as industry is concerned, we can only continue our development of technological solutions if it’s based on a solid foundation of research results in materials science. The Grundfos Group is a world leader in areas such as pump technology and, for us, it’s therefore important to have close collaboration with researchers like those here at iMAT, who support us with the valuable research that can mean the next technological breakthrough. There are a considerable number of technological challenges that I regard as suitable for collaboration – thereby creating new jobs and new products. Congratulations to Aarhus University. I’m looking forward to even more collaboration with you,” he said.

Professor Bo Brummerstedt Iversen, director of iMAT, concluded the speeches by thanking the many visitors who had turned up for the event, and giving his interpretation of the significance of the work facing him and iMAT.

“If you want to change the world, you need to find a new material. As a wise man once said, “The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone. The Stone Age came to an end because we found other and better materials with which to build our society.” iMAT is one of the first centres in Denmark with the specific aim of working with materials research in a targeted way. This provides a strong basis for creating new knowledge that can support the development of society and not least industrial progress. The work is now beginning for us here at the university and at facilities around the world, especially in Lund, Sweden, where ESS (European Spallation Source) and the MAX IV Laboratory will play important roles in research into the properties of new materials. Thank you to the dean for sharing this vision to create a centre of this type at the university, and to all of you attending today,” he concluded.

Read more about iMAT here.

Go to the iMAT website here.

Science and Technology, Staff
89573 / i31