News & Press

New at livMatS: Junior Research Group Leader Céline Calvino

The chemist will develop plastics that can be recycled with the help of light

Feb 22, 2021

livMatS welcomes Dr. Celine Calvino as a new junior research group leader. The chemist joined the cluster in January 2021 within the Agnes Pockels Junior Research Group Program. The cluster’s Program aims to increase the number of female researchers at the Junior Research Group level and provide excellent female researchers with the means and room to establish their own group in an interdisciplinary environment at the University of Freiburg.

Calvino is researching adaptive materials that can be recycled for further cycles of use when stimulated by light. Such light-mediated materials are promising candidates to replace commodity plastics, that are currently difficult to recycle, and would help reduce the amount of plastic waste polluting the environment. To achieve these materials, Calvino will develop light-sensitive chemical building blocks and insert them into polymer chains. When irradiated, these chemical motifs will break apart and cause the individual chains to shorten. Under different irradiation conditions, this process can be reversed and the polymer chains reassembled allowing the materials to be reshaped, repaired or recycled.

Calvino studied chemistry at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, with a focus on organic synthesis, polymer chemistry, and materials science. In 2018, she completed her PhD at Adolphe Merkle Institute at the University of Fribourg. Her thesis focused on the development of chromogenic components relying on supramolecular interactions to create new functional mechanoresponsive polymer materials, i.e. materials that change color when exposed to mechanical forces. Most recently, Calvino worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago/USA, investigating the use of dynamic covalent bonds to engineer new melt processing approaches for sustainable nanocomposite materials.

In a video, Céline Calvino explains how her research could lead to alternatives for conventional plastic.