National Centres of Competence in Research



Geneva is at the center of research on the electronic materials of the future thanks to the National Center of Competence in Research MaNEP.


In 2001, the Swiss National Science Foundation launched 10 National Centers of Competence in Research in fields of strategic interest for Switzerland. One of these first ten centers of excellence, MaNEP (Materials with novel electronic properties) studies and develops new materials for the electronics sector of the future. It receives federal support amounting to 4.7 million per year. Recently evaluated by international experts after eight years of activity, the Center’s mandate was renewed for the period 2009-2013.

Directed from Geneva, MaNEP brings together more than 250 researchers and a unique combination of scientific and technical skills thanks to its Swiss network, comprised of the two federal polytechnic schools, the Universities of Neuchatel, Bern, Fribourg and Zurich, and the two national laboratories the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA), as well as various industries.

New electronic materials: what for?

The materials employed in many of today’s electronic applications are reaching their limits and solutions must be found for the future. This is why MaNEP is studying a whole series of compounds with exceptional electronic properties. These materials could play a key role in the technology of the 21st century. Among these new compounds are superconductors and magnetic and ferroelectric oxides.

The possible areas of application are vast, and include the production and transport of energy, the development of magnets for imagery and motor production, and new types of memory, filters and sensors for ultramodern electronics.

MaNep develops techniques which make it possible to manufacture, categorize and understand the properties of these new materials. Aside from their potential uses, these systems are extremely difficult to understand, and thus require significant efforts in fundamental research. MaNEP is working actively in both areas, thus placing Genevan physics at the heart of Swiss and worldwide research in this field.

Promoting new materials: a challenge for MaNEP

In order to develop applications involving these new electronic materials, it is important to make them known and to collaborate closely with industry. The MaNEP Center puts great effort into promoting the compounds it studies, effort which is generating a growing number of collaborative projects with both large and small Swiss companies.

Educating students and young researchers: a key goal

Another major priority of the MaNEP Center is to foster the education of young researchers in this field and to allow them to build their expertise by using the most advanced techniques available today. In addition to personalized supervision in research, internships and summer school programs, MaNEP is developing a top-level doctoral school in order to provide young scientists with optimal training for the challenges of the future.
Learn more...