Chemistry of Materials

Materials are everywhere in our day-to-day lives and play a key role in providing solutions to society’s problems. The Chemistry of Materials research community focuses on the broad and multidisciplinary field of materials and encompasses the complete lifespan of a wide range of materials.

Materials are everywhere and exist in many forms. We use them for housing, transport, electronics, clothing, foodstuffs, healthcare and generating energy. This widespread use of materials is matched by a broad-based field of materials research. This is a multidisciplinary field that brings together expertise from chemistry, physics, biology and engineering. It covers the design-synthesis-characterisation-performance cycle. There are many types of material, too, such as organic, inorganic and hybrid, made up of biomacromolecules, macromolecules, colloids, small molecules, and so on. New emerging materials react to external stimuli and are inspired by nature; examples include strong lightweight materials, bioactive materials and self-healing coatings. Other new materials are metamaterials that derive their properties not from bulk properties, but from smartly designed nanostructures. These materials have unique properties that do not occur in nature. It is new materials upon which solutions to major social challenges, such as the supply of foodstuffs, health, generating and saving energy, the sustainability of transport and the scarcity of raw materials, are based. Examples include fully degradable or reusable materials, materials made from sustainable sources, materials for high-efficiency solar cells, materials for storing energy and responsive sensor materials for healthcare.

Chemistry of materials in the Netherlands

The academic quality of materials science in the Netherlands is among the highest in the world. The country is determined to maintain this position and is aiming, by 2030 to 2040, to be the world leader in technologies for rational design of materials with a high level of added value from sustainable sources.

The Dutch materials research world - the academic community and the business sector - is in an excellent starting position for carrying out fundamental and applied research, which will lead to scientific breakthroughs and inventions. The findings that this will result in will strengthen Dutch industry and play a key role in major social challenges such as the supply of food, health, energy, sustainability and raw materials.

Materials research in the Netherlands is strongly interdisciplinary in nature and is relevant to many Dutch top sectors, reflecting the multidisciplinary character of the field. The top sectors involved are High Tech Systems and Materials, Chemistry, Energy, Agrifood, and Life Sciences and Health. In recent years, this has led to various initiatives in the Knowledge and Innovation Contract; see Dutch Materials.

Materials science is well represented at Dutch universities, with dozens of research groups actively focused on nano, meso and macroscopic materials. Dutch materials research enjoys an outstanding international reputation. The NWO FOM Institute AMOLF concentrates explicitly on research into complex functional materials, and other NWO institutes also share interfaces with materials research. The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, DPI and M2i are also very active in materials research. There are very close links with the business sector too, including with large players such as ASML, Tata Steel, Shell, DSM and AkzoNobel, as well as with innovative start-ups like HyET Solar and Hydrogen, Xilloc Medical, Materiomics and Cybe Construction.

Chemistry of Materials advisory committee

The advisory committee gives solicited and unsolicited advice to the board of the NWO Science domain on proposals for new programmes. The committee also has a monitoring role regarding the progress of ongoing programmes.

The Chemical of Materials committee is made up of the following:

Ilja Voets, chair, self-organising soft matter  
Andries Meijerink, vice-chair, inorganic solid state chemistry  
Katja Loos, polymer science
Elias Vlieg, solid state chemistry
Jasper van der Gucht, soft matter  
Roxanne Kieltyka , biomaterials
Nathalie Katsonis, bio inspired smart materials
Ferdinand Grozema, optoelectronic properties of materials
Andrea Baldi, nanomaterials for energy applications  
Bernard Dam, guest member from the Round Table Chemistry  

NWO-secretary: Abeer Hossain

Research community advisory committee duties and procedures

The research community advisory committees have the following tasks:

  • Identifying new developments in the sub-field of the advisory committee;
  • Maintaining contact with the research field;
  • Maintaining the network with the Dutch National Research Agenda, top sectors, the Royal Netherlands Chemical Society, etc.;
  • Monitoring the progress of ongoing research programmes in the sub-field in question, including advising the Chemistry Round Table at the conclusion of these programmes;
  • Monitoring ongoing research and existing facilities and new initiatives;
  • Helping shape and implement the NWO network and forum function in consultation with the field (during CHAINS, for example);
  • Giving unsolicited and solicited advice to the Chemistry Round Table and to the Science board.