The Partnership for Soft Condensed Matter (PSCM) is a scientific and technical platform enabling ambitious large-scale Soft Matter research projects addressing challenges in nanomaterials, environmental and energy sciences, and biotechnology.
The PSCM promotes the integrated exploitation of state-of-the-art neutron and synchrotron beamlines in combination with the most advanced laboratory techniques for the characterisation of a wide spectrum of systems ranging from soft interfacial thin films to complex multi-component bulk fluids. This section introduces the PSCM core staff and the members of the PSCM Steering Committee who can be contacted for any additional information. A short history of the PSCM can be found at the bottom of this page.
Origin and development of the PSCM
To better understand the needs of the ESRF and ILL soft matter user community, two seminal workshops were organized in 2004 and 2006. Shortly after, in 2008, the two world-leading research facilities decided to set up the initiative Partnership for Soft Condensed Matter (PSCM) and to create dedicated laboratories to allow the best possible use of the large scale research instruments of both ESRF and ILL. In 2009 the ESRF and ILL signed an official Memorandum of Understanding for the step-wise creation of the PSCM, which was rapidly followed by the first PSCM-dedicated workshop.
The ILL took the lead and reinforced the Soft Matter Support laboratories at the ILL in 2010 and 2011. 2012 brought the signature of the full PSCM agreement detailing the joint ESRF/ILL modes of PSCM operation within the dedicated Science Building under construction in 2013. Meanwhile the ESRF started to organize support labs based on complementary instrumentation donated to the PSCM by various ESRF beamlines.
The Science Building was inaugurated in 2014 with the organization of the second PSCM-dedicated workshop. By 2015 all ILL and ESRF instrumentation was transferred to the Science Building and made available to all ESRF and ILL soft matter users and staff. First pioneering european institutes and departments started to join the PSCM initiative as Collaborating Partner Organizations (CPOs) developing their 3-year scientific projects that profited from enhanced PSCM support services. By 2015, five CPOs had joined the PSCM following a case-by-case non-competitive access procedure.
In 2016 the PSCM contributed to the organization of the International Soft Matter Conference hosted in Grenoble. In 2017 the continuation of the PSCM implementation was approved as a result of the first PSCM Review Panel Meeting. The first competitive call for new PSCM partnership programs lead by external CPOs was launched in 2018. In 2019 the first PSCM Partner Selection Panel identified the six most advanced proposals, keeping for the other applicants the possibility to re-apply to subsequent calls. In 2020-2021 three new partners signed their CPO agreements despite the severe restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
The teleworking solutions implemented at the PSCM may be useful also in the future, but we are above all looking forward to hosting again in the Science Building new CPO students and researchers as soon as possible.