Looking backPublished on 21.07.2022

Our latest annual report

The latest edition of the Adolphe Merkle Institute annual report is now available in print and online, demonstrating how the Institute’s researchers continue to produce groundbreaking research in a sometimes difficult context.

While the pandemic continued to impact lives in 2021, AMI's researchers were able to pursue their experimental work without major limitations. Members of the AMI BioPhysics group demonstrated how metabolic waste can be transformed into electrical energy. Their results may pave the way for “body batteries” that can be used to power wearable or implantable electronics. The BioNanomaterials group applied their expertise in detecting nanoparticles in complex media to a broad variety of materials. In a recent study, they investigated the release of nanoplastics from teabags, providing fundamental data that can be relevant in the context of possible environmental and health impacts of artificial nanomaterials.

Researchers from the AMI Soft Matter Physics group are making progress towards the development of new metamaterials that can trap and store light. The possibility to confine light waves was theoretically predicted a century ago, whereas experimental investigations are a more recent development. Finally, the Polymer Chemistry and Materials group continued its work on healable polymers. Deploying a newly developed method, they demonstrated that fully mending two severed surfaces requires the formation of an interphase that is ten times thicker than previously thought.

In the context of Switzerland’s new role as a non-associated third country in the European Union’s Horizon Europe program, the report also takes a look at the Institute’s many collaborations, within Europe and beyond. The international network that we’ve established during more than a decade has allowed us to join significant multinational consortia and connect with leading research groups in their respective fields. In spite of the quarrels regarding Switzerland’s status, AMI researchers were involved in three successful applications for EU funding in 2021, notably as leads of a multi-institutional EU Pathfinder project.

Coverage of other achievements and highlights from the past year are covered in the “In Brief” section, ranging from awards for junior and senior researchers, events hosted and attended by AMI members, such as the University of Fribourg’s Explora open day, or celebrating women in science.

Online edition: https://bit.ly/AMI_AR_2021