With the "Horst Freisler Project", the Academic Society at the University commemorates its long-time member of the Board of Trustees, who left a generous legacy to the Society. The first awardee is Dr. Céline Calvino, junior research group leader and Principal Investigator in the Freiburg Cluster of Excellence livMatS. She talks about her research on adaptive materials in an interview with Pascal Lienhard.
What is your research that the Academic Society supports about?
Céline Calvino: In our team, we are working on a new class of material that can be recycled for further cycles of use when stimulated by light. Such light-mediated materials could potentially replace standard plastics that are difficult to recycle and help reduce the amount of plastic waste that pollutes the environment. This approach could be very relevant for the future, especially in the field of sustainability. We started this research this past January.
How do you go about it?
Plastics are made of polymers. To create new adaptive plastics, we will insert into small polymer chains chemical motifs capable to respond to the irradiation of light. The light will enable the assembly of these small polymers into longer chains to create materials with robust mechanical properties. Under modified irradiation conditions, another wavelength, the polymer chains can in turn be broken down and recycled, thus creating a cycle. Two researchers are currently working on this, and we are also supported by master’s students.
How did you learn about the Academic Society’s project?
Through a call for proposals from the Academic Society. We are always looking for new partners to finance our research, which is very expensive. That's why I was very interested in this funding and the support it would provide, and I applied for it. Finally, I got the message that the society wanted to support my research financially and award its scientific quality. To be honest, I did not expect that, it was a huge and pleasant surprise for me.
How important is the funding for you?
Now we can purchase a photoreactor for our project, with which the different irradiation conditions can be created. This instrument is key and indispensable to pursue our research. I am very happy and grateful that the Academic Society is supporting us in this manner.
When do you expect the first results of your research?
It's very hard to say, but I hope that in two or three years I will be able to present at least some initial materials to prove our methodological concept. But first it is critical to invest time on creating molecules that respond in the way we expect them to do, to ensure an efficient assembly of the small polymers and ultimately the formation of materials. This can take a lot of time!
Dr. Céline Calvino
Cluster of Excellence livMatS
University of Freiburg
79110 Freiburg im Breisgau
Prof. Dr. Karl-Reinhard Volz
Chairman of the Academic Society Freiburg
Haus “Zur Lieben Hand”