Céline Calvino, a graduate of the Adolphe Merkle Institute (AMI), received the 2019 Chorafas Prize for the best doctoral thesis in natural sciences at the University of Fribourg, a work focused on the development of so-called mechanochromic polymers.
Dr. Calvino's thesis, "Mechanochromic materials based on non-covalent interactions", and successfully defended last year, was carried out in the "Chemistry and polymeric materials" group of Professor Christoph Weder at the Adolphe Merkle Institute, as part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Bio-Inspired Materials.
Her research focused on the development of molecular motifs whose properties change when a mechanical force is applied, the mechanophores, and on their incorporation into polymers to create new so-called mechanosensitive materials. In these materials, specific functions, such as a change in colour, can be triggered by mechanical force. This effect is fundamentally interesting and practically useful, for example to monitor ageing or the imminent failure of load-bearing structures.
Dr. Calvino currently holds a postdoctoral mobility fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation. This funding supports her research stay at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, where she is studying the functionalization of cellulose nanocrystals.
The Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation awards scientific prizes for outstanding work in certain fields of engineering, medicine and the natural sciences. It rewards research characterized by its high potential for practical application and by the special significance attached to its possible future use.