National Center of Competence in Research Bio-Inspired Materials

In 2014, the Adolphe Merkle Institute became the headquarters of the new National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) for Bio-Inspired Materials at the University of Fribourg. Since then, the new interdisciplinary center has been striving to become an internationally recognized hub for paradigm-shifting research, innovation, and education in the domain of “smart” materials whose function and design are inspired by nature.

Transcending traditional disciplines, the center integrates the research activities of all AMI's research groups as well 10 others from the University of Fribourg (departments of chemistrymedicine, and physics), the University of Geneva, and the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) and Lausanne (EPFL).

The overarching scientific goals of the NCCR are:

  • to take inspiration from natural materials to establish design rules and strategies for the creation of macromolecular and nanomaterial-based building blocks and their assembly into complex, hierarchically ordered stimuli-responsive materials with new and desirable properties;
  • develop a predictive understanding for the interactions of such materials with living cells;
  • and use the generated knowledge to develop innovative applications, particularly in the biomedical field.

Research is organized in three modules that focus on:

  • mechanically responsive materials;
  • responsive materials created by self-assembly;
  • and the interactions of responsive materials with living cells.

Each of these modules tackles major unsolved problems, provides opportunities for great scientific advances on its own, and requires an interdisciplinary research approach. In the long term, the interconnection of these themes through cross-cutting projects and the common goal of being technologically relevant will create substantial synergies, which can only be harnessed if addressed within a multidisciplinary Center.

AMI participants