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BASF and top American universities to research new functional material

  • Focus on innovative materials for the automotive, building and construction, and energy sectors
  • BASF extends international research network  

BASF SE has launched a research initiative called “North American Center for Research on Advanced Materials” through which it is collaborating with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst. One goal of this initiative is to jointly develop new materials for the automotive, building and construction, and energy industries. The cooperation is initially planned for five years. About 20 new post-doctoral positions will be created at the three universities.

“This collaboration with these prestigious American universities is an important expansion of our international research network,” said Hans Engel, CEO of BASF Corporation and CFO of BASF SE. “It is part of BASF’s strategy to further extend our global research and development activities. We rely on strong partners for this project.”

Scientists from disciplines such as chemistry, physics and biology and engineers with know-how in different industries will work together in this research initiative. The academic partners contribute not only their expertise in material sciences, modeling and formulation methods, but also provide new ideas for interesting research approaches. Besides fundamental scientific knowledge, BASF researchers will contribute the necessary experience in transforming research results into technically feasible processes and products and input about which materials are needed in the 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 biomimetic materials that emulate nature. For example, the scientists are working on lightweight construction materials for wind turbines and automotive construction and on new color effects for cosmetic applications.

“We need the creative spirit of the widest possible range of sciences to develop solutions to meet the needs of a growing world population for clean drinking water, secure energy supply and improved quality of life,” explains Christian Fischer, Ph.D., President of BASF’s Advanced Materials and Systems Research. “I am convinced that BASF’s market oriented materials and systems researchers, together with the outstanding scientists at the American universities, make up the ideal team for seeking out technically and economically viable solutions.”

The research scientists are supported and advised by a scientific committee that includes BASF scientists and George Whitesides, Ph.D. and Dave Weitz, Ph.D. of Harvard; Robert Langer, Ph.D. and Mary Boyce, Ph.D. of MIT, and Todd Emrick, Ph.D. and Alan Lesser, Ph.D. of UMass Amherst.

The American research initiative will build on the successful cooperation between BASF and Harvard University. During the five years’ cooperation to date, 13 academic research groups have been working together with BASF scientists.

From left are Michael Malone, Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement, UMass Amherst; Christian Fischer, President of BASF’s Advanced Materials and Systems Research; Richard McCullough, Vice Provost for Research, Harvard University; and Mary C. Boyce, Professor of Engineering, Head of Department, MIT.