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The History Behind mCBEEs

Autumn is that season of the year where one realizes about the relentlessness of time – or let’s says of the environment – over things. Leaves become yellow and fall, as iron rusts and degrades. It was precisely in Autumn 2015, during a COST Action workshop of e-MINDs organized in Cracow, that some of us realized that corrosion and durability of micro- and nanodevices remains an uninvestigated topic. During this melancholic yet inspiring environment, where, several researchers such as Lekka, Ürgen, Zanella, Pellicer and I recognized that corrosion is an important aspect that remains unexplored at the micro- and nanodomains. Of course, the first thing that came to our researcher minds was “Let’s write a proposal!” And that is what we did.

The Innovative Training Network programme of the European Commission seemed the most suitable framework to propose our ideas. So, we embarked ourselves in the odyssey of writing a project, which could gather European corrosion experts and end-users of “to-be-protected” devices. In November, I travelled to Udine to discuss with Lekka and Zanella how to proceed. We did not have so much time (deadline was January the 10th of 2016) and we had a lot to do. First, we had to congregate some experts among academics and industries. Then, we had to focus on the specific topics. We concluded that biomedics, energy and electronics were the areas in which corrosion can be critical for the correct functioning of micro- and nanodevices. Some of the beneficiaries were recruited among the most active members of the COST Action and the EAST (European Academy of Surface Technology) (ETHZ, JTH, RISE, ITU, UPB, UAB, MAG, CIDETEC), and we decided to invite corrosion experts through another European channel, the EFC (European Federation of Corrosion). The first round of Skype calls started with the help of partners active in both associations (UNIUD, ITU, JTH, CIDETEC) and more partners (AGH, VUB, TUD, ELS, JSI, …) came on board.

And Christmas came. And the peace and the colors of these celebrations were very inspiring to us. I remember calling Lekka on the 31st of December at 4:00 a.m. discussing about dissemination measures and impact! Anyways, we managed to write a decent text, and we submitted on time. Sadly, we did not manage to get the proposal in 2016. I must confess that I was furious with the unfair assessment of our proposal by one of the reviewers.

So, we tried again in the next year trying to fix some issues. Two groups of partners physically met at Eurocorr 2016 at Montpellier in France in September 2016 and at the COST Action e-MINDs Workshop in Athens in October 2016. Greece has always been a source of inspiration not only for architects, painters, musicians, but also for scientists. Arguably, Greek philosophers were the first that proposed the atomic theory more than 2000 years ago. After some intense debate through our free time around the Acropolis, our Peripatetic discussion on corrosion concluded in that we had to resubmit the proposal. Second round of exhaustive Skype calls started. We tried to put together all the mass of expertise, avoid overlapping and construct the huge puzzle of activities, individual projects and secondments under the main umbrella of corrosion, modeling of corrosion and corrosion protection at micro- and nanoscales. Christmas Holidays were full again with long phone and Skype calls, e-mails and “voilà!”. In April 2017, we were notified that our proposal was retained for funding. And here we are now enjoying this amazing network of young talents and senior experts, which hopefully will have a lot to say in the next years about the matter of corrosion at micro- and nanoscales!

Supervisors at kick-off meeting in Udine, October 2017