Many new technological advances are limited by the impossibility to combine high mechanical performances of actually known ceramic materials with critical functional or structural material properties. The objective of this Integrated Project (IP) is to provide and industrialize knowledge-based nanoceramics (<100 nm) and nanocomposites (second phases <10 nm) for top-end functional and structural applications that are beyond reach with incremental materials development only.
In summer 2003 a discussion regarding the necessity for research on new ceramic nano-composites arose among various European companies and researchers. In May 2004 the project consortium consisting of 25 partners discussed scientific breakthroughs and research approaches for the synthesis and processing of nanopowders. After several meetings and intensive negotiations all contract documents were finally approved by the European Commission and May 1, 2005 was the official start date of IP NANOKER.
The consortium of IP NANOKER is composed by 25 partners located in 10 European countries. Italy (6), Spain (4), France (4) and Germany (3) are most represented countries. 14 project participants are industries, 4 are research institutions, 6 are universities and one partner is a foundation.
Says Dr. Torrecillas, the speaker for IP NANOKER and who is head of the Nanostructured Materials Group at the National Carbon Institute in Spain: "Many new technological advances are limited by the impossibility to combine high mechanical performances of actually known ceramic materials with critical functional or structural material properties. Nanocomposites entirely made of ceramic and metallic nanoscale particles or nanoscale phases, is a new class of engineered materials where unique and otherwise unattainable properties can be revealed. In this context, industries and scientists involved in research on nanocomposites realized the necessity to jointly set-up a Europe-wide research project focused on nanostructured ceramics."
Dr. Torrecillas points out the need for the research project: "Nanocomposites present due to its nanostructure unique properties. Studies show that the use of bio-compatible medical implants is restricted by its limited mechanical performance during operation; we also stated a lack of structural/functional transparent materials for advanced lightning technologies and new laser applications. Selective radiation windows for satellite guidance and aerospace devices operating under very severe environmental conditions are missing and stable structural and functional com-ponents for microdevices processed by micro-fabrication techniques have to be found. Finally, the life span is quite reduced."