Dear colleagues and interested parties,

When we wrote the last edition of SNI INSight, in December 2021, we were hopeful that our world would have returned to normal by summer 2022 and that we would once again be able to devote ourselves fully to our nanoscience research.

Sadly, this wish was only partly fulfilled. At the very start of the year, we had to bid a final farewell to our valued and long-standing colleague and friend Wolfgang Meier. Wolfgang had been responsible for the nanoscience degree at the SNI for many years and was a passionate advocate of students’ interests. We will also remember him as an inspiring, innovative scientist and a wonderful person. We miss him dearly.

Neither is it particularly easy to focus on research work given the current political situation. A war, the like of which we would not have thought possible in Europe, is putting fundamental values such as freedom and democracy in jeopardy and causing untold suffering. The situation is hard to bear.

For us in Switzerland, it is also still unclear whether and how we can continue participating in EU projects. With this in mind, researchers and research institutions throughout Europe are lending their support to the Stick to Science initiative, a pan-European campaign that aims to accelerate Switzerland and the United Kingdom’s association to Horizon Europe.

The signatories believe that cooperation in science, research and innovation in Europe is more important than ever as we face some of the world’s greatest challenges.

The SNI supports this campaign. Although we are primarily active in Northwestern Switzerland, the researchers in our network are dependent on collaborations across the European region. This is a question not only of research funding but also of cooperation within the European research landscape.

Within the SNI, a number of changes will come into effect in August. After sixteen fulfilling years as SNI director, I will hand over my responsibilities to Martino Poggio at the end of July 2022 and once again focus fully on my research activities.

Martino has already shown a strong commitment to the SNI in recent years as an Argovia professor, and I am sure that he will continue the SNI success story. He will be assisted by Patrick Maletinsky as Vice Director and by the SNI Executive Committee, which has been reconstituted and will also assume its duties from August. In this SNI INSight, you can learn more about Martino Poggio and Patrick Maletinsky as well as about the members of the new SNI Executive Committee.

You will find examples of SNI-supported research in this edition of SNI INSight, in which we provide a brief description of the new applied research projects that have been funded by the SNI since the start of the year within the framework of the Nano Argovia program. We also take a look at the topics researched by the two winners of the prize for the best master’s thesis in nanosciences at the University of Basel.

In the future, researchers at the SNI will be supported not only by the Nano Imaging Lab but also by the Nano Fabrication Lab, which we are in the process of setting up. By pooling activities relating to nanofabrication within this group, the SNI is ensuring that it is even better equipped to face the demands of the future. The two service and research units — the Nano Imaging Lab and the Nano Fabrication Lab — will be brought together under the umbrella of the Nanotechnology Center.

Lastly, the many enjoyable events held in recent months did succeed in restoring a modicum of normalcy. It is events such as these, where we learn to exchange and discuss ideas with one another as well as getting children and young people excited about the natural sciences, that highlight the importance of dialog in our work — especially in difficult times such as these.

I hope you all enjoy reading this edition of SNI INSight.

Kind — and hopeful — regards,

Christian Schönenberger

Prof. Christian Schönenberger, SNI Director