Forum Junge Spitzenforschung 2022
Future of materials and material production

Apply until: 31 October 2022 | Final & Networking: 22 November 2022

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Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht.

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Nie wieder 99 Luftballons!

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The future of materials and material production

The future of materials and their production is being created now – in the hands of excellent young researchers. In the context of the Forum Junge Spitzenforschung we are looking for young scientists who conduct research on new materials and manufacturing processes and want to take part in shaping the future. Their applied research ideas not only lay the foundation for tomorrow’s product and service innovations, but also address the major challenges facing society.

Materials and material manufaction processes of the future offer significant advantages over the status quo of today’s materials and at the same time contribute to a just future worth living.

In this context, the future of materials and materials production means…

Efficiency

Compared to materials available today, the new generation offers an increase in performance. More flexible, more energy-conductive, more radiant, more responsive, more degradable… the list goes on. The costs of these new materials are falling, because new processes allow costs to be saved in their production or raw materials to be used more optimally.

Durability

New materials can be used in longer lasting or even new types of products due to their increased durability. Greater resistance to (physical) stress, heat, cold, air and/or moisture characterises the new generation of materials and lays the foundation for future innovations.

Smartness

Already today, materials are often more than just a pure building materials. Smart materials are innovation drivers, e.g. when they absorb impulses from nature (bionic & adaptive materials), are indispensable for a networked society (artificial intelligence) or can be controlled and changed in their properties, e.g. by light.

New properties

New materials often become truly innovative when they have new properties, manufacturing processes or applications compared to the state of the art. For example, 3D printing revolutionised materials technology. Applications that require certain materials can be used more flexibly with new properties. In some cases, new material properties even lead to disruptive product and service innovations, e.g. when a previously non-existent heat resistance suddenly enables application in hot biomes.

Fairness & social justice

A just future worth living for all means responsibility and responsible product and service innovations involve the whole value chain. Accordingly, the materials of the future must also be fair and socially just. E.g.: The raw materials needed for production of new materials have been procured neither through overexploitation nor through trade with states that violate human rights. Human and animal welfare are at the forefront of production and procurement meaning humans and animals are not exploited financially, socially or otherwise.

Sustainability

Because of their properties, the next generation of materials helps us live more sustainably. Recyclable materials and longer recyclability function against the trend of a throwaway society. What ends up as waste in the environment is ideally completely biodegradable and/or non-toxic to the environment and thus contributing to the preservation of biodiversity.

Resource conservation

Many resources on earth are finite or volatile. In the interests of a far-sighted society, the material production of tomorrow strives for a reduction of waste by-products, an optimised use of required resources, as well as the production of such materials that can better retain volatile resources such as heat and energy. The processing of suitable, ideally renewable, raw materials in the production of innovative materials makes a vital contribution to preserving the world for future generations.

Climate-friendliness & climate-neutrality

Greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045 is the declared goal of the Federal Republic of Germany. For the materials of the future, this means that CO2 emissions must be reduced during production and the earth’s natural CO2 reservoirs must be conserved (e.g. by not deforesting rainforests). Exceedingly climate-friendly material innovations even bind CO2 and thus even actively contribute to achieving the climate goals. In this sense, materials that enable climate change innovations, such as in e-mobility, also provide inestimable value for a climate-friendly future.

Health & quality of life

Maintaining and enhancing health and quality of life is an important objective for any society. In this context, the production and processing of materials should be as non-hazardous as possible in the future, e.g. by forgoing toxic components. Innovative health and lifestyle products are often only made possible by harmless and well-tolerated materials. Inherent properties of innovative materials often enable a plus in quality of life, for example when titanium foam as a bone implant not only offers the desired stability but is also less rigid than conventional titanium.

Inclusion & gender equity

Innovative materials can make a contribution to shaping an inclusive and gender-equitable society. Be it, for example, empowering women in the trades by making materials, which are used in products and tools, lighter, or aiding people with impairments or of old age in their everyday lives with innovative smart technologies made possible by next-generation materials.

Security of supply

The constant supply of basic needs is one of the great challenges of society. Particularly in the energy sector, future materials can make an important contribution: materials that can generate, conduct or retain energy and heat better, longer or more efficiently form the backbone of a secure energy supply in the face of ever increasing demand and uncertainties.