• Emperor Frederick II the Swabian, founder of the University of Naples in 1224

  • The Science Campus of the Federico II University

  • The Department of Chemical Sciences, Federico II University

  • The High Throughput Experimentation lab of LSP

  • Computational modeling of industrial Ziegler-Natta catalysts

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Mission

LSP specializes in fundamental and applied studies on catalytic olefin polymerizations, aiming to a better understanding of existing catalysts and processes, and the implementation of novel/improved ones. This research area is of very high scientific and economic relevance, but its supposed maturity makes it practically ineligible for public funding. As a matter of fact, the LSP budget is derived for over 80% from industrial contracts. This represents at the same time a great opportunity and a difficult challenge. Being close to application, and therefore in the position to transfer the results from laboratory to industrial production, is exciting and rewarding, in particular for the students who receive an education conjugating a rigorous scientific approach with a constant attention to the societal impact of their projects (a favorable combination for job-hunting). On the other hand, partnering with leading polyolefin companies requires to achieve and maintain a clear status of excellence in the field, which is a demanding mission.

The strategy of LSP, with its comparatively small team (max 20 group members, to allow for daily contacts between scientific staff and students), is to adopt a highly focused approach characterized by state-of-the-art experimental and computational tools and methods, and a network of structural collaborations with leading academic and industrial laboratories worldwide. These collaborations are carefully selected based on complementarity with LSP and between them. Partnering with the Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI, one of the Top Technology Institutes in The Netherlands, with its global network of Knowledge Institutes and Companies working together in pre-competitive research programs in polymer science and technology) is a very important asset in the latter respect. Another one is the unique High Throughput Experimentation and Computation infrastructure, making LSP the most advanced academic laboratory worldwide for the application of these methodologies to polyolefin catalysis. Last but not least is the tradition of LSP to work with industry (Shell, Montell, Basell, Fina, Total, DexPlastomers, DSM, Borealis, Sabic, Lanxess Elastomers) in the frame of bilateral research agreements on fundamental or applied topics.

Being and remaining state-of-the-art is LSP’s answer to the challenge imposed by globalization. The massive use of robotics and automation, however, is not functional to cutting jobs and saving on labor costs; rather, it’s a way to create new, better qualified professions (in academia as well as through the HTExplore spin-off), operate with more sustainable protocols (thanks to systematic in-silico pre-screening and the miniaturization of real-world experiments), and further innovate the field of interest by means of higher quality and efficiency in data acquisition and elaboration, ending up with superior know-how and – ultimately – true know-why.

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