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Numerous substances, such as metals, metal oxides, carbon modifications and pigments, can contain nanoscale structures.

When further processed, they can enhance the properties of existing materials, making them for instance more scratch proof or deeper in colour. Nanothechology thus helps us develop more sophisticated and effective products. Engineered nanomaterials can be put to use in a wide range of fields: medicine, energy systems, environmental protection, data storage, chemicals, foodstuffs, consumer goods and many others. Nanotechnology is a veritable cross-border technology that promises improvements in numerous areas of daily life.

Close-up of a key technology

Switzerland | Posted on April 11th, 2011

Better risk assessment through research
But there is another side to the coin. Along with their huge potential, nanomaterials can also pose risks that should not be taken lightly. Despite rapid progress in the development of nanomaterials and the increasing number of nano-based products, we are only beginning to understand the effects of exposure on humans and the environment. NRP 64 intends to fill this gap by

• gaining insights into engineered nanomaterials, their development, use, behaviour and risks;
• developing methods and tools to monitor the behaviour of nanomaterials and their potential effects on humans and the environment;
• developing tools to maximise the advantages of nanomaterials and minimise the risks for humans and the environment;
• supporting the development and application of safe and effective technologies based on nanomaterials;
• providing decision-makers, manufacturers, distributors and consumers with facts on which regulations and processing methods could be based;
• enhancing and underpinning specialist knowledge and competencies for developing innovative nanomaterials and assessing risk in Switzerland.

NRP 64 consists of 18 projects divided into three modules. One module deals with medical applications, a second with the ecological effects of nanomaterials, and a third with the development and use of innovative nanomaterials in other domains, such as construction. All of the projects consider not only the opportunities, but also the risks of the nanomaterials they study.

Notes for editors
Simultaneous kick-off in different institutions
The research groups participating in NRP 64 are based at different academic institutions: Empa (3 projects), Eawag (4 projects), EPFL (2 projects), the universities of Berne (3 projects), Lausanne (1 project), Fribourg (1 project) and Zurich (2 projects), the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon ART (1 project) and the RMS Foundation (1 project). NRP 64 has been allocated a budget of 12 million Swiss francs. Research work was initiated in 2011 and will continue until end of 2015. If you are interested in receiving progress updates for the different projects, please sign up for the electronic newsletter at

You can also download the programme portrait of NRP 64 from the NRP 64 website, or ask the SNSF to send you a copy.


For more information, please click here

Philippe Trinchan
+41 (0)31 3082222

Prof. em. Peter Gehr (President of the Steering Committee of NRP 64)
Institute of Anatomy
Faculty of Medicine
University of Berne
Baltzerstr. 2
CH-3000 Berne 9
Tel.: +41 (0)31 631 48 79

Mark Bächer (Head of Knowledge Transfer)
Life Science Communication AG
Obere Wiltisgasse 48
CH-8700 Kusnacht
Tel.: +41 (0)43 266 88 50
Mobile: +41 (0)78 601 56 08

Copyright © Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaf

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