The consortium

University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), over 500 years old, maintains one of the most important academic traditions in Europe. The university has over 44,000 students, more than 1,000 people working in administration and services and represents a huge potential of scientists (more than 2000) dedicated to research and higher education, grouped in more than 400 research teams from 76 different departments.

The Magnetism and Nanotechnology group (NANOMAG) of the USC directly involved in the present project is an interdepartmental group directed by professor M.A. López-Quintela (Dept. of Physical Chemistry), and is part of the Institute of Technological Investigations of the University of Santiago since its foundation in the 90’s. This research unit –with more than 300 peer-review papers- has a long history in the preparation of nanomaterials as well as in the study of their properties. The group is actually formed by 3 full professors, 6 professors, 8 postdoctoral researchers, 19 PhD students and 1 administrative staff.

The role of the USC group will be related with the synthesis of Ag atomic quantum clusters. The expertise of the group in the fields of the synthesis of nanomaterials, colloidal stability and electrical transport will be directly applied in the development of the present project.

The benefits for the USC group will be related with the possibility to apply its scientific expertise in order to produce final products of interest for a large demanding area of applications. This will open the opportunity of increase the contacts with industrial sectors related with the basic research carried out in the USC labs.

The USC lab has previously developed and optimised the synthesis of atomic quantum clusters and nanoparticles for improved technical performance.

The objective the Nanomag group of the USC in this project is to develop new simple and robust protocols to prepare Ag quantum clusters with different sizes and in combination with weakly binding ligands to broaden the range of light which can be absorbed.

Link: USC

NANOGAP was incorporated in 2006 and is a spin-out from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC). The company is located near the USC in Galicia. In 2010 international presence was increased with the creation of a US subsidiary in California. The company employs around 13 people.

NANOGAP develops, manufactures and sells nanomaterials. The core technology is based on wet chemistry and sub nanometre Atomic Quantum Clusters (AQCs) with unique properties. Current products include conductive materials (silver nanoparticles and nanofibers), luminescent materials (AQCs and Charge Transfer Complexes) and catalytic materials (AQCs). Target markets include printed electronics, security printing, medical diagnostics and catalysts.

Many of NANOGAP’s products have truly unique properties and benefits, and NANOGAP owns or has exclusive right to exploit intellectual property, including patents on the production and use of many of its products.

Currently, 25 people are working in the company, distributed in R+D Department (7 scientists), Production Department (12 technicians) and Commercial and Administrative Department (6 people). A team composed of highly experienced and technically skilled personnel from Commercial, R+D and Production Departments will conduct the feasibility study. This study will connect market opportunities with best suited technological solution for improving NANOGAP’s production processes, so all the company’s Departments are engaged.

Based on intelligence gathered, the team will be responsible for analysing, evaluating, selecting and composing the final outcome of the feasibility study. This major engagement of company personnel assures high alignment to the company strategy.

NANOGAP is a nanomaterial company built on a technology platform of precisely controlled wet chemistry, expertise developed over 20 years by its co-founders, as the leaders of the NANOMAG Research Group at the USC. Nanomaterials, the building blocks of the nanotechnology revolution, are defined by having at least one dimension less than 100 nanometers (nm) in size. Due to this small size nanomaterials exhibit new and improved properties over their “bulk material” counterparts.

From the NANOGAP technology platform, novel, high performance nanomaterials are produced, including: unique to NANOGAP sub-nm Atomic Quantum Clusters (AQC); spherical nanoparticles between 5 and 50 nm in size; high aspect ratio nanofibers; and recently, the AQC technology has been further developed to produce a new class of materials, Charge Transfer Clusters (CTC) and Charge Transfer Cluster Nanosomes (CTC-N). These products, with a broad range of properties and benefits, find applicability in a diverse variety of applications and markets. This includes electrically conductive materials that can be used in preparation of conductive inks for printed electronics, antistatic coatings, highly conductive adhesives and transparent conductive films; photoluminescent materials with unique optical fingerprints that are being developed for security printing and medical diagnostic applications; antimicrobial additives for coatings and plastics which make surfaces hygienically clean, without adversely affecting any other properties; and a potential new therapeutic treatment for cancer.

This broad range of opportunities, coupled to a flexible business model provides both short term revenue opportunities from contract R&D and product sales as well as longer term high value income from license agreements.

NANOGAP will provide expertise regarding synthesis and characterisation of atomic quantum clusters.


ULAN currently teaches over 17,000 students, including 2,100 postgraduates. Lancaster University is 121st in the QS World University Rankings (2015-16), 130th in the Time Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings (2015-16), 59th in the “The Best Universities in Europe” (2016) and ranked in the UK Top 10 for research and teaching.

The condensed matter theory group of ULAN is located within the Physics Department, with a worldwide reputation for research on nano- and molecular-scale electronics and 2-d materials.

During the 2001 and 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercises, the Physics department received the highest possible ranking.

Link: Lancaster U.

VITO is a leading European independent research and consultancy centre in the areas of cleantech and sustainable development, elaborating solutions for the grand societal challenges of tomorrow: climate change, food security, sustainable energy supply, the ageing population and scarcity of resources.

The research unit “Separation and Conversion Technology (SCT)” has organized its strategic research program around the theme ‘Sustainable Chemistry’ with special focus on the integration of separation processes with chemical, microbial, enzymatic or bio-electrochemical conversion processes, and on development of bioelectrochemical processes. The use of CO2 as an alternative feedstock for the chemical sector is one of the flagships for the coming years and hence the proposed project will boost the ongoing research in this area. Developments cover components, assemblies, reactors, stacks and systems for a wide range of applications, such as industrial wastewater treatment, resource recovery, bioremediation and biofuel cell development and testing. Team members have significant experience in the development of bioelectrochemical systems using biocatalysts such as bacteria and enzyme for conversion of CO2 into chemicals and fuels.

The (bio)electrochemical (BES) research at SCT is based on the skills, experience and infrastructure present in the group and linked to chemical and biological conversion systems and their combination with separation systems. The group recently has a strategic focus on sustainable chemistry aiming for integration of reaction technology (bio, electrochemical) and separation technologies. The research team excels due to the combined expertise of material development, microbiology, biotechnology and electrochemistry. The team members have a lot of experience in industrial wastewater treatment, bioremediation and alkaline and PEM fuel cell development and testing. The research focus at VITO has been development of low cost and efficient electrodes and membranes. The gas diffusion electrodes to be used as air cathodes in MFCs are considered as the state of the art and are currently being optimized for CO2 conversion processes. Since few years, the group started activities in Electrosynthesis field with projects on conversion of CO2 to ethanol, methanol, formic acid and conversion of acids to alcohols and production of ionic liquids. The lab has participated to several EU projects in the past, coordinating also some of them. The group is composed of five senior research staff members and about ten PhD and post-docs with specialization in chemistry, material development, separation processes, electrochemistry and biotechnology in order to have an interdisciplinary approach.

Link: VITO

‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life’

That is the mission of Wageningen University & Research. Over 6,500 employees and 12.000 students from more than hundred countries work everywhere around the world in the domain of healthy food and living environment for governments and the business community-at-large.

The strength of Wageningen University & Research lies in its ability to join the forces of specialised research institutes and the university. It also lies in the combined efforts of the various fields of natural and social sciences. This union of expertise leads to scientific breakthroughs that can quickly be put into practice and be incorporated into education. This is the Wageningen Approach.

The scientific quality of Wageningen University & Research is affirmed by the prominent position we occupy in international rankings and citation indexes.

The domain of Wageningen University & Research consists of three related core areas:

• Food and food production

• Living environment

• Health, lifestyle and livelihood

The Laboratory of Microbiology is engaged in research and education in biotransformations and interactions of microorganisms as well as their control. Moreover, it contributes to the exploitation of the generated knowledge in the application areas of Health & Food, Bioproducts & Energy and Environment & Sustainability.

The chair group Bioprocess Engineering teaches and develops innovative bio-based processes. We work on a sustainable and healthy future by engineering efficient bioprocesses for high quality products. We study and develop photoautotrophic and heterotrophic production systems for biobased products, as well as high-quality processes for the production of biopharmaceuticals.

Link: Wageningen U.

With almost 34 000 students, the Technische Universität Berlin is one of Germany’s largest and most internationally renowned technical universities. Located in Germany’s capital city – at the heart of Europe – outstanding achievements in research and teaching, imparting skills to excellent graduates, and a modern service-oriented administration characterize TU Berlin.

The range of services offered by our seven Faculties serves to forge a unique link between the natural and technical sciences on the one hand, and the planning, economics and social sciences and humanities on the other. This is indeed a significant achievement for any technical university.

In a clear articulation of TU Berlin objectives, in July 2012 the Technische Universität unanimously decided to actively promote a new vision in research and academics by designating six core research priorities and by defining the related competencies and social obligations. The key research area are Materials, Design and Manufacturing, Cyber-Physical Systems, Energy Systems and Sustainable Resource Management, Infrastructure and Mobility, Knowledge and Communication Systems and Human Health. Scientific achievements are built on basic research in the natural science disciplines of chemistry and physics, and mathematics, in addition to strongly innovation-oriented research in electrical engineering and the computer sciences for instance. TU Berlin has received recognition for outstanding achievements in all these disciplines, for which support is provided by the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the European Union, industry and public funding, and whose teams are conducting world-class research.

Research in the Institute of Chemistry focuses on catalysis and contributes to areas such as synthesis, solid-state chemistry, and materials science. Main areas of scientific activities involve physical and theoretical chemistry, biological chemistry, and chemical engineering. In catalysis activities range from homogeneous over heterogeneous to biocatalysis. These topics are addressed by the Cluster of Excellence "Unifying Concepts in Catalysis" (UniCat) located primarily at TUB.

Link: Technische U. Berlin

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement No. 825999