A new network to boost the development of high-performance composites with smart properties


Composite materials are used since ancient times when Egyptians and Mesopotamian mixed mud with straw to create reinforced materials. The first plastic composite was produced by Corning1, after inventing fiberglass and combined with a plastic polymer, obtaining a lightweight and strong material. Since them, composites have opened a world for lighter, stronger and more flexible materials with multiple applications.

Carbon composites have also offered a new paradigm for the development of smart devices with sensing properties. A sensor is a device that detects changes on the environment and send the information to other electronic system. Sensors’ applications are enormous, and carbon composites offer the advantage of being directly integrated in the materials based on their inherent electrical and thermal conductivity.

The new COST Action EsSENce, High-performance Carbon-based composites with Smart properties for Advanced Sensing Applications, brings together experts from 48 countries to establish a business network of collaborations across borders and sectoral boundaries, to transfer and disseminate the existing knowledge and innovations on carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) and nanocomposites for sensing applications.

This is the challenge EsSENce has taken. Subsequently, the initial group will attract additional European and International research groups to fully explore the potential of CNM composite materials in a wide variety of engineering and technological areas, such as medical sector, automotive, constructions, aerospace, and renewable energy.

“EsSENce is aiming to develop an innovative scientific & technological hub at the European and International level, focusing on advanced composite materials reinforced with carbon-based nanomaterials (CNMs) for sensing applications. In this framework, all the joined forces of our Action, are looking for a strong collaboration that will result in further progress”, says Prof Costas Charitidis, chairing EsSENce network.

EsSENce will also contribute to fostering the development of European Strategic Cluster Partnerships (i.e. European meta-clusters) by helping research institutes, SMEs and industries find easier access to global value chains and engage in long-term cooperation with strategic partners.

Caption: The Action has established an interdisciplinary network from 35 European countries and 13 non-European countries spread across the globe.

The challenge

The demand for advanced composites reinforced through the addition of carbon-based materials and nanomaterials is steadily increasing during the last five years, and it is estimated to be continuously rising by at least 10% per year until 2025. Most of the forecasts about NMs agree on a market growth in the next years, with overall compound annual growth rate (CAGR) values between 12–25% while the nanocomposites market size is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 24. 2% over 2019-2025.

The Action

In this framework, the goal of EsSENce is to develop an innovation scientific hub at European and International level, focusing on advanced composite materials reinforced with Carbon based (nano)materials (CNMs). The sharing of ideas and results will boost the development of high-performance composites with sensing properties. Special focus will be given in the utilisation of these materials for the introduction of smart properties to the final composites and their application in the field of sensors development. The aim of EsSENce hub, defined as a collaborative community, is to gather together scientific partners, research groups, technology providers and industrial key players aiming to enhance creativity and collaboration among them, by positioning the entrepreneurial individuals at the center. Indeed, by building a community with diversity both in the broad sense (gender, ethnicity) and with regards to heterogeneous knowledge, the emergence of novel ideas and practices is fostered thus leading to unique and viable innovations.

The COST Action activities will focus on the promotion of the successful results from the involved partners and the utilization of the synergistic effect to improve exploitation and dissemination of knowledge. The intention is to enable as many groups as possible to participate in a highly integrated innovation environment.

By engaging these specific partners to collaborate, new and existing knowledge related to CNMs will be combined, integrated, and further exploited, in order to bridge existing gaps identified form the industrial partners. Consequently, the Action’s strategy will focus on facilitating the transition of science-based information into a business context to improve global competitiveness and independence for the EU in the production and commercialization of carbon-based multi-functional products.

Additional information:
View the COST Action’s website here.
View the EsSENce network’s website here.
Follow the Action on social media Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

1Corning is one of the world’s leading innovators in materials science, with a 169-year track record of life-changing inventions. Experts in glass science, ceramics science, and optical physics, along with its deep manufacturing and engineering capabilities, to develop category-defining products that transform industries and enhance people’s lives.