9th Forum on New Materials
Plenary Lectures


F:PL1  Organic Actuators for Living Cell Opto Stimulation
G. LANZANI, Center for Nano Science and Technology@PoliMi, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, and Department of Physics, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy

Organic semiconductors in different shapes and composition can be interfaced with living cells. This provides a new, exciting route towards optical control of physiological functions or the restoring of natural functions. In this talk I will present a number of experiments that show the effective abiotic-biotic coupling with cells and small animals, suggesting the potential of organic light actuators for geneless opto stimulation. Investigated systems are based on carbon molecules or polymers as photoactive component in planar films, nanostructured layers or nanoparticles. Spectroscopy, photo-electrochemistry and photo-electrophysiology are exploited to carry out the experimental investigations. While the mechanism   explaining such coupling is still unknown, it is appearing that thermal, capacitive, faradaic or chemical coupling are all options to be carefully evaluated. To conclude the successful use of organic semiconductors for restoring visual acuity in blind animals will be reported [1,2].
[1] José Fernando Maya-Vetencourt et al. "A fully organic retinal prosthesis restores vision in a rat model of Degenerative blindness" Nature Materials 16, 681 (2017)
[2] José Fernando Maya-Vetencourt et al. “Subretinally injected semiconducting polymer nanoparticles rescue vision in a rat model of retinal dystrophy” Nature Nanotechnology 15, 698-708 (2020)

F:PL3  Embodying Intelligence in Structures: Perspectives of Multifunctional Design Community
B.-L. (“Les’) LEE, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Arlington, VA, USA

In seeking for unique and unprecedented capabilities of the next generation of load-carrying structures accompanied by revolutionary improvements in their reliability, survivability and maintainability, our scientific community increasingly relies on:
(i)    new design paradigm for “multifunctionality” which aims to achieve optimum combinations of structural performance and specific functional capabilities (e.g. electromagnetic, optical, thermal, chemical) dictated by the application requirements;
(ii)    “multiscale” integration of newly emerging materials (e.g. active, smart, programmable) as well as nano- and micro-scale devices into macro-scale load-carrying structures and their intelligent subsystems.  
This emerging field of multifunctional structures and integrated systems requires vigorous interactions among a broad range of technical disciplines and their integration into highly focused research programs.  Multifunctional design is often inspired by optimum combinations of structural performance versus functional properties found in biological systems where the survival of species through millions of years of evolutionary cycles has led to highly efficient design and production of complex materials and systems.  Among various visionary contexts for developing such intelligent multifunctional structures, the concepts of particular interest are:
(a)    “autonomic” structures which can sense, diagnose and respond for adjustment with self-learning capabilities (patterned after “brain and neurological” systems),
(b)    “adaptive” structures allowing reconfiguration or readjustment of shape, functionality and mechanical properties on demand (patterned after “muscular-skeletal” systems),
(c)    “self-sustaining” systems enabling self-healing, regeneration and self-regulating thermal management capabilities with integrated power sources (patterned after “circulatory” systems).
Significant progress has been made by our multifunctional design community for the proof of these concepts through specific case studies of autonomic, adaptive and self-sustaining systems.  Well-known examples from earlier work include (1) neurological system-inspired sensory network, (2) self-healing, regeneration and in-situ repair capabilities for air vehicles as well as space platforms, and (3) self-regulating thermal management of aerospace structures. The more recent examples of key emerging technologies are: (1) avian-inspired fly-by-feel morphing wing for the next generation of air vehicles, and (2) neuromorphic circuits with high-speed parallel signal processing and self-learning capabilities. Along with other exciting developments in manufacturing technologies as well as simulation methods, these advances place the state of affairs at a tipping point where entirely new classes of multifunctional structures can be designed in multiscale by high-fidelity computational modeling methods and are concurrently fabricated by multi-material additive manufacturing techniques. This overview presentation will review the status of technology and address key scientific issues underpinning further advancement of multifunctional materials and structures.

F:PL2  Decarbonization of the Energy Sector: Contribution of Nuclear Power Today and in Perspective
S. MONTI, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna International Center, Vienna, Austria

Nuclear power is a clean, reliable and sustainable primary energy source. Globally, it produces more than one-quarter of all low-carbon electricity. Additionally, nuclear power is a dispatchable and flexible source of electricity: at a time when the use of variable renewables is growing worldwide, nuclear power makes a key contribution to energy supply security and grid stability. According to a report issued in 2021 by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, nuclear power is an indispensable tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The contribution will present the status of nuclear power in the world, as well as the global trends in expanding and newcomer countries. It will also discuss how nuclear energy can drastically reduce not only the GHG emissions from electricity production, but also the CO2 emissions currently generated through the use of fossil fuels in industry, heating in buildings and transport. Finally, the presentation will discuss technological advances and innovative nuclear systems that are expected to improve the economic attractiveness, safety and long term sustainability of nuclear power.


Cimtec 2022

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