Meeting of e-minds connects micro-worlds


When corrosion experts met in an e-MINDS Action workshop, they spotted an industry need for expert knowledge on nano- and microscale corrosion. The result was a Marie Curie Innovative Training Network, joining other projects and collaboration successes from the Action.

Small-scale devices such as micro and nanorobots are transforming healthcare, electronics and industrial processes. How can developers ensure they are stable over time?


In Autumn 2015, a group of researchers and industry partners were at the first workshop for the COST Action ‘Electrochemical processing methodologies and corrosion protection for device and systems miniaturization’ (e-MINDS). While sharing ideas on new methods to manufacture micro- and nanodevices and increase their durability, they realised that something important was missing.

“Corrosion remains unexplored in the micro- and nanodomains,” says e-MINDs Chair Salvador Pané of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH).

“The rules that work on the larger scale cannot always be applied,” adds Vice-Chair Eva Pellicer of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

With e-MINDs member Maria Lekka from the University of Udine and other Action participants, they decided to set up an EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) programme, mCBEEs. The ITN is training 15 PhD students with research organisations and device manufacturers to limit micro- and nanoscale corrosion.

“We put together two worlds that do not easily communicate – electrochemical engineering and micro-/nanotechnology,” explains Pané. “COST helped to bridge that gap.”

Job well done

The consortium drafted the grant application over a year, including at the 2015 and 2016 e-MINDs workshops. In October 2017, the four-year mCBEEs programme began.

19 universities, research institutes and companies joined the network through e-MINDS and the European Federation of Corrosion (EFC), while the 15 trainees were chosen from 475 applicants worldwide. “It is a very international ITN,” says Lekka, the mCBEEs coordinator.

Students are researching mechanisms behind corrosion in micro- and nanodevices. They are also developing corrosion-resistant coatings and devices for biomedics, energy and electronics applications, such as novel energy-storing electrodes.

“The ITN is going well. Our mid-term check says the job is well done,” Lekka concludes.

eMINDs effect

In addition, five national and EU-funded projects have resulted from eMINDs, such as the CONTAXENSE project to develop a contact lens that can monitor eyes for glaucoma.

Meetings between scientists from different disciplines also had surprising results. For example, work with microfluidics professor Mustafa Ürgen of Istanbul Technical University and Dr. Josep Puigmarti-Luis at ETH Zürich led to proof of how corrosion in crevices works. “This could lead to safer buildings and machines,” Pané explains.

According to Pellicer, the Action even opened doors for some participants to join the prestigious European Academy of Surface Technology.

She adds: “Every workshop was different. All gave good results.”

Read more about the e-MINDs Action:

View the Action

View the Network website