Launch of the PANACEA European project
An acute need across chemistry for advanced atomic-scale characterization
Development of modern chemistry relies on the capacity for atomic level investigation of increasingly complex solid substrates in frontier research areas crossing disciplines from catalysis and energy materials through polymers to pharmaceutical formulations and medical implants. Thanks to a number of recent breakthroughs in instrumentation and methodology, solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is uniquely positioned today to characterize the structure and dynamics at the atomic-level and can reveal morphology in solid substrates. However, such state-of-the-art methods rely on the use of sophisticated and costly solid-state NMR equipment that is only available in a handful of national facilities. The rarity of the instrumentation and associated operational know-how has restricted the uptake of these enabling methods by the broader base.
EU invests 5 million euros to unlock NMR technologies for key research in chemistry
To enable researchers from European academia and industry to extend innovative chemistry research, the EU has invested 5 million euros to PANACEA, through its Horizon 2020 program. The PANACEA consortium aims at facilitating the generation of knowledge and advances in pharmaceutical, fine chemicals, cosmetics, food, fuel, polymers and clean energy industries. PANACEA will do this by bringing together and integrating on the European scale, seven national infrastructures across Europe and one infrastructure in the United States, and by opening them to all European researchers, ensuring their optimal use and joint development. Specifically, the project will offer trans-national access (1700 instrument days) to more than 30 unique NMR spectrometers ranging from 100 to 1500 MHz, fully equipped to cover the most advanced solid-state NMR techniques and applications.
Advancing technologies beyond the state of the art
Joining forces within the PANACEA consortium also enables the partners to collaborate in joint research activities that will allow new and better ways to perform chemistry experiments. PANACEA will build on the expertise of the partners todevelop new web-based software tools to simplify the analysis and interpretation of NMR experiments to non-expert users, as well as to develop new instrumentation and protocols that will extend the applicability of the NMR technique to a broader range of solids, including new and innovative materials that are attracting the interest of the wider academic and industrial community: energy storage materials (batteries, supercapacitors), catalytic surfaces, polymer thin films, porous materials for gas capture, storage or separation, implants and drugs for pharmaceutical formulations.
Enabling research without borders
A series of networking activities is designed to harmonize and optimize access procedures and interfaces, so to facilitate the use of modern solid-state NMR by non-expert users, and widen the opportunities for novel application areas in chemistry. Integration will be further enabled through an extensive and inclusive training targeting the wider Chemistry community through activities to demonstrate and highlight the potential of the technique and educate a new generation of cross-disciplinary chemists able to optimally exploit advanced NMR methods for their research.
PANACEA will also foster technical innovation through direct partnerships, both with four NMR technology providers in the consortium and with trans-national access users in the broad chemical industry. This will be supported and developed by extensive industry related initiatives, and by industrial participation in the advisory board of the integrated Infrastructure.
How to access PANACEA facilities
Access to all facilities will be available through an open peer review system based on scientific excellence and the potential of each project for enabling translational research. While PANACEA expects Open Access publication from all users, it also enables researchers from industry to access its facilities as a fee-for-service, through a dedicated access portal. Starting from the 1st of September 2021, PANACEA will be open for applications, on the website panacea-nmr.eu.
Chemistry is at the heart of the European economy, and the wider Chemical Industry is one of the largest manufacturing sectors. As an ‘enabling industry’, Chemistry plays therefore a pivotal role in providing innovative materials and technological solutions to support Europe's industrial competitiveness. The chemical industry alone, including basic chemistry and pharmaceuticals, contributes to more than 15% of European industrial production. Modern chemistry research involves ever more complex non-crystalline solid materials, whether they be sophisticated pharmaceutical formulations designed to have programmed release properties, complex polymer composites with designed mechanical, electrical or optical properties, battery materials optimised for repetitive charge and discharge cycles over many years, or heterogeneous catalysis in porous materials capable of efficiently carrying out multiple reactions.
Call: Integrating Activities for Starting Communities, INFRAIA-02-2020
Project duration: September 2021 – August 2025
Total budget: 4 998 890.75 euros
Partners: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Lyon and Orléans, France; coordinators); the University of Warwick (UK); Consorzio Interuniversitario Risonanze Magnetiche di Metallo Proteine (Florence, Italy); Stichting Katholieke Universiteit, (Nijmegen, the Netherlands); Aarhus Universitet (Denmark); University of Aveiro (Portugal); University of Göteborg (Sweden); the Florida State University (Tallahassee, United States); Bruker Biospin GMBG (Rheinstetten, Germany); Mestrelab (Santuago de Compostela, Spain); the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel); École Polytechnique Fédérale (Lausanne, Switzerland)