Chemist Jasper van der Gucht has received a large European grant. With this he wants to research the breaking of materials such as plastics.
The consolidator Grant consists of a maximum of 2 million euro and is meant for talented researchers that have promoted between 7 to 12 years ago. With this grant, that is divided by the European Research Council (ERC), researchers can expand their group.
Van der Gucht wants to use the money to research how polymer materials, such as plastics, break. ‘This is a difficult problem’, he says. ‘Breaking happens on numerous length scales, from the nano scale to the macroscopic world.’ Especially those small scales are not visible to the naked eye. Van der Gucht wants to observe them with various new methods. ‘There are, for example, molecules that change colour when pressure is placed on them. Others release a flash of light when the connection breaks.’
The results should help to create better implants that replace tissue or organs in our body. Van der Gucht also hopes to produce more stable foods. In contrast to many other grants the ERC does not aim for direct application. ‘So I want to really look at fundamental questions,’ says van der Gucht. He is grateful to receive that freedom for the years ahead.
Jasper van der Gucht studied molecular science between 1994 and 1999 at Wageningen University. He promoted at the chair group Physical Chemistry and Colloid Science, where he is currently a professor. In between he works as postdoc on the Curie Institute in Paris. In 2010 he also received a Vidi-grant.