Advances in material science - which studies the structure, properties and performance of the materials all around us - are crucial to Europe’s leadership in the global knowledge economy. Understanding and controlling changes in the structure of materials at the microscopic nano-scale, or even smaller, allows scientists to enhance their physical and chemical properties. This in turn leads to better, stronger and more efficient and sustainable materials for use in industrial systems, home appliances, and medical devices, enhancing the quality of life of European citizens and the competitiveness of our products. The key role played by European research infrastructures - large-scale instruments, installations and other facilities - in this drive for fundamental knowledge and economic performance is the subject of a press briefing, held today at the internationally renowned CCLRC Rutherford Appleton laboratory near Oxford.
Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for Science and Research, said “Knowledge and innovation must be our absolute priority if we are to increase our economic development and create jobs. Without knowledge, there is no real future for Europe as a global economic leader. Research infrastructures directly support technological innovation, by offering the essential conditions and the necessary critical mass to carry out cutting edge research.”
European research infrastructures are the major instruments, installations and facilities that provide top class research services to support the work of scientists in a wide spectrum of areas, from materials science to astronomy, from biomedical applications to the protection of our cultural heritage. Research infrastructures in their different forms - single sited, distributed or “virtual” - combine hardware (e.g. world-class scientific equipment), software (e.g. large digital scientific libraries or databases), and technical support, as well as creating an environment within which scientists from all over Europe can carry out their research.
With their scientific, technological and human capacities, European research infrastructures are at the forefront of knowledge creation and transmission and at the cutting edge of technological innovation. Attracting and networking researchers from all over Europe and beyond, they enable the scientific community to pool talent, maximise resources, and generate a strategic vision of research in the European Research Area.
The projects presented today demonstrate how European research infrastructures, such as lasers, synchrotrons and neutron sources, push the boundaries of knowledge in material science and, at the same time have a direct impact on the economic development and competitiveness of European enterprises. Generating a better understanding of fundamental laws of structure or behaviour also enables the testing of new enabling technologies and processes which directly benefit the high tech sector as well as more traditional industries.
Details of the projects presented at the briefing can be found in MEMO/05/74