The revolution of surface properties of materials due to the nanotechnologies.
Nowadays, we come into contact with objects whose surfaces interact with the world around us. This is true on a macroscopic scale (easily visible to our eyes), on the micro, nano, pico scale until reaching the molecular or atomic level.
The nanotechnologies development in recent years, that allow us to produce materials with surface and innovative properties or to modify the surfaces of traditional materials, has created a greater awareness about the importance of surface properties and their knowledge.
Therefore, this leads to the need of studying in a more detail, organic and structured way these properties and it makes the surface science no longer a minor branch of materials science but a complement science to it.
Multidisciplinary and multiscale approach in order to study the surface properties of materials
However, the study of surface properties of materials requires a new way of doing research. In fact it needs a multidisciplinary and multiscale approach. It requires a multidisciplinary approach since the study projects need to traditionally collaborate skills divided by the respective disciplinary barriers (physical with biologists, chemists and mathematicians, engineers and doctors ...). A multiscale approach is, however, necessary because at nano level it is possible to radically change the surface properties of materials; it is even possible to adjust the surface properties by varying the parameters of the manufacturing process and/or modified them. Until about twenty years ago such activities were considered unthinkable since the surface changes came, at most, at the micrometer level.
The future trend is to make changes and functionalization at the pico-scala level.
This new way of doing research necessarily requires the development, in a structured way, of a network of experts (single individuals) and institutions (public and private) sector and centers of excellence called " European Reference Centers" on Science and Technology of Material Surfaces that extends to the entire European Community.
Why is it so important to carry out research and development of surface properties of materials at the level of the European Community?
This allows to settle, even more, the link between the individual States beyond the current economic link. Science can be a great bonding between States by surpassing the top-down individual visions and developing a "collective" European knowledge. In this way it would create a "European critical mass" that would make possible to develop more competitive, innovative and worldwide products and/or processes in this scientific field.
However, for the competitiveness of products and/or processes must have a market, the market is managed by the companies and thus in order to create innovation, it is necessary to start from the industries requirements (limits of processes and/or limits of products). Then the research centers and universities must work closely with industry to develop new products.
This shows that the new scientific knowledge developed in close synergy among these three realities does not only expand the science but are also the basis of innovation.
The interconnectedness among industries, research centers and universities can only take place if they have a common yardstick by which to acquire or propose new ideas and/or products. The level of technological maturity (TRL) can be a valuable tool in this area to identify clearly and unambiguously the progress of a discovery or an innovative product.
Through its individual members, the European Reference Centers and the TRL the EMASST promotes the meeting between academia and research world with industry by fostering the dialogue between industry (with its demands to be placed on the market) and research world (with its innovations, discoveries and inventions).
EMASST helps to identify areas for promoting, facilitating access to large scientific installations and it offers an interface to european industries and research institutions.
EMASST supports a policy of aggregation in the awareness that the development of material surfaces science and technology requires a large and interdisciplinary contribution and for this purpose it works with companies, public and private organizations, of the sector for the implementation of important initiatives.
EMASST works with the formula of network and management is done through a very simple organizational and administrative structure: 1 president, 4 directors, 1 treasurer who also appoints to the Secretary General and 6 members of the Technical and Scientific Committee (only 12 people).
Thanks also to the legal and associative form, EMASST can provide great flexibility in management by allowing what industries, research centers and universities can not do, or can only do so with great difficulties.