27 May 2014
On 30 April and 1 May 2014 SCI's Materials Chemistry and All Ireland Groups staged the inaugural 'Irish Polymers and Materials Conference' in the Engineering Department of University College Dublin. The conference aimed to build on the success of the earlier 'Irish Adhesion, Surface Coatings and Composites Conferences' by bringing in additional topics: Polymer Synthesis, Organic Electronics, Ionic Liquids and Materials for Sensor Design.
The conference attracted considerable interest, as the materials community in Ireland is relatively small, but also very diverse, with the result that there are very few polymer and material conferences in the country, and this was the first to have such a broad appeal.
There was a definite international flavour to the meeting, with speakers from Holland, Belgium, Germany and Spain as well as Ireland and the UK. There were also posters from students from several other countries.
The first day was mostly chemistry-based, focussing on organic electronics, polymer synthesis and ionic liquids. You can get an idea of the breadth of the conference from the titles of just three of the talks: 'OLEDs, PLEDs and QLEDs' by Prof P Kathirgamanathan from Brunel (and an MCG committee member), 'The advantage of polymer synthesis in supercritical carbon dioxide' by Dr Fawad Aladabbagh of NUI Galway and 'Polymeric ionic liquids: broadening the properties and applications of polyelectrolytes'.
The second day had more of an engineering and applications flavour with sessions on sensors, adhesion and materials for wind turbines. One particularly interesting talk was by Michael Leonard of UCD (a former poster prize winner and now an active Materials Chemistry Group committee member) on modelling nano-particle loading and debonding in rubber toughened adhesives.
Poster prize winners this year included Abulaiti Hairisha of the Tyndall Institute in Cork, pictured with Dr Neal Murphy of UCD.
The fact that we didn't need to split into parallel sessions meant that delegates attended sessions that they would probably have missed at a bigger conference, which in turn meant that there was significant cross-fertilisation of ideas between the specialities.
The attendance was gratifying, with over fifty delegates, and the response was overwhelmingly positive, encouraging us to repeat the experiment in future years.
Chair of Materials Chemistry and Vice-Chair of All Ireland Groups