ERC grant to AAU researcher: Stronger and thinner glass for the benefit of climate and industry

ERC grant to AAU researcher: Stronger and thinner glass for the benefit of climate and industry

Professor Morten Mattrup Smedskjær from Aalborg University (AAU) has been awarded the prestigious EU ‘ERC Consolidator Grant’. He will use the grant to accelerate his research into the complex structures and potentials of glass materials. In the long run, this may provide important new knowledge to the industry and help contribute to a more sustainable society.

Each year, the EU awards the ‘ERC Consolidator Grant’ to a number of excellent researchers who are in the middle of their academic careers. The grant is one of the most prestigious in Europe. This year, AAU professor Morten Mattrup Smedskjær from the Department of Chemistry and Bioscience is among the recipients of a EUR 2 million grant for the project “NewGLASS: New Horizons in Glass Structure Prediction and Mechanics”. Together with his research group, he will now increase the understanding of the structures of glass materials and improve their mechanical properties, for example by tailoring a microstructure that improves the fracture resistance of glass materials.

Thin and fracture-resistant glass benefits the climate, industry and consumers

Morten Mattrup Smedskjær has had his research focus on glass materials for many years and has on several occasions succeeded in breaking the limits of fracture resistance of glass materials. The ERC grant will allow him to achieve new knowledge about the structures in glass and thereby accelerate the development of new materials, by using a combination of physical experiments, computer simulations and machine learning. The goal is to increase the opportunities for predicting the properties of glass, but also to provide knowledge that can benefit the climate, industry and consumers.

- We surround ourselves by glass every single day. We find it in smartphones, interactive displays, vaccine glass vials or large panels in new buildings. In each case, the demands for the glass’ mechanical properties are constantly increasing. Therefore, it is crucial that we have a fundamental understanding of the physics and chemistry of glass. On the long term, by using this knowledge we will be able to achieve greater assurance that new materials can meet the purpose and requirements for which they are designed. New knowledge will also strengthen the innovation opportunities when attempting to use glass materials in new ways, explains Morten Mattrup Smedskjær.

In addition to the industry being able to benefit from the guidelines that Morten Mattrup Smedskjær’s research will provide, the long-term opportunities to produce more fracture-resistant glass also mean that it is possible to promote a more sustainable production chain. 

- If we can make glasses more fracture-resistant and thus thinner, it affects the whole chain; we will be able to use fewer raw materials, less material must be melted and less must be transported, says Morten Mattrup Smedskjær.

A huge recognition

Of course, Morten Mattrup Smedskjær is very excited about the recognition and opportunities that the ERC grant gives him and his research group.

- First of all, it is a huge honour to be among the chosen ones in a very tough competition. It is a great recognition of our research being at a high international level. Furthermore, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to focus on a difficult problem for a five-year period. Solving the problem will have great potential and I am really looking forward to explore that, says Morten Mattrup Smedskjær.

The AAU management is also very enthusiastic about the prestigious award.

- It is very well deserved that Morten receives the grant from the ERC. He and his research group have been conducting world-class research for many years. It also makes me happy that the grant is awarded to a project that lies in the area between basic and applied research, which in the long term can contribute to a more sustainable world, says AAU Rector, Per Michael Johansen.

The ambition is that the grant can contribute to creating a lighthouse for interdisciplinary glass research, where disciplines such as chemistry, physics, material science, mathematics and machine learning all come into play. The project is expected to be launched in the autumn of 2022.


About the ERC Consolidator Grant

The European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant is aimed at excellent researchers in the middle of their careers. The grant is funded by the EU’s research and innovation programme Horizon Europe and EUR 632 million has just been distributed to a total of 313 researchers. The grant will support the recipients in consolidating their research groups and in delivering research results with a high level of impact.

For more information, please read the ERC press release.


Morten Mattrup Smedskjær
Professor at the Department of Chemistry and Bioscience at Aalborg University
+45 5142 7672

Per Michael Johansen
via press adviser Anette Marcher Jensen
+45 2120 0241