Since end 2006, the Polymer Chemistry & Biomaterials Group (PBM) of the Universiteit Gent is headed by Prof. Peter Dubruel. At present, the group is composed of 1 full professor, 1 lab manager, 8 post-docs, 15 PhD students, 2 other staff (financial and technical) and 4 master students. To pursue the leading scientific role, PBM has gathered in the past decades all required expertise and infrastructure to develop and characterize a large variety of custom-made polymers. In addition to a series of polymer development labs (for both stepwise and chain growth type polymerizations), PBM has as its deposition all infrastructure required to fully characterize the bulk and surface properties of polymers (IR and UV spectroscopy, NMR 300-700 MHz, thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, gel permeation chromatography (organic and aqueous), static light scattering, IR mapping, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy, static and dynamic contact angle measurements, quartz crystal microbalance coupled ellipsometry, …). Within Europe, there are very few labs that house these combined polymer related capabilities. This has directly lead to the involvement in several EU project proposals: 3 FP6 projects of which PBM has coordinated one and 3 FP7 projects (of which one joint project with VUB B-Phot). In addition to the presence on the international scene, PBM is also involved in a very large number of national projects (of which several with the different VECTOR consortium partners).
Since June 1st 2011, UGent has appointed a full-time business developer (Dr. An Van Den Bulcke) for the CHEMTECH consortium taking the lead in all valorization activities of the PBM which further underlines the UGent ambition in the field (Industrial Research Fund, UGent-IOF).
The proposed VECTOR project perfectly fits in the long term strategy of Ghent University in general and PBM in specific. Indeed, PBM is or has involved in various projects (IWT-SBO, FP7 and IWT- Industrial projects) in which polymers for optical applications are pursued including fibre embedding, fibre coating, self written waveguides,fibre coupling films, … The expertise previously gained is the perfect starting point for the development of polymers for fibre cleaning purposes. The aspects will include both the development of polymers and their processing into a final structure using electrospinning and/or film casting.
During recent years, PBM has taken up various managing activities both on the national and the international level. In the recently finalized EU-FP6 STREP project PolExGene, PBM was acting as coordinator.
On the level of managing large scale research infrastructure, PBM is currently involved as partner in two large scale infrastructure projects (Hercules 3 APPLIE4MOS with VUB B-Phot and the Impulse programme for large equipment at UGent). In the framework of small and medium-sized research infrastructure, PBM is coordinating a Hercules 1 project ELLI-E-QCM).http://www.ugent.be