The Auxetic Materials Research Group Dr. Joseph N. Grima, an academic from the Department of Chemistry of the University of Malta and three of his students (Sarah Borg Bonnici, Ruben Gatt and Brian Spiteri) have recently participated for the official launch of the 'Auxetic Materials Network' (AUXETNET) held at the University of Sheffield, UK and in the Auxetic Young Researchers Forum at the Bolton Institute, UK.

Auxetic materials exhibit the unusual property of becoming wider when stretched and thinner when compressed. This counter intuitive behaviour is responsible for various enhanced characteristics in the macroscopic properties of these materials. Possible uses of these materials include shock absorbers, cushion materials, surgical implants, etc.
 
The programme for these two meetings included keynote lectures given by world experts in the field including Prof. Roderick Lakes from the University of Wisconsin, USA, Prof. Andy Griffin from the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and Prof. Ken Evans from the University of Exeter, UK.  Dr. Grima delivered an invited keynote lecture at the Auxetic Young Researchers Forum where he presented some of the recent developments in the field of molecular auxetics, with particular reference to the work which is being carried out by his research group. In the same meeting, Ruben Gatt and Brian Spiteri (two students of the Department of Chemistry) presented papers outlining the original research work they have carried out as part of their BSc(Hons) dissertation under the supervision of Dr. Grima.

The AUXETNET project is fully funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) of the U.K. and may be regarded as a virtual centre of excellence bringing together leading academics working in the field from the Bolton Institute and the Universities of Cambridge, Exeter, Leeds, Malta and Sheffield. The network also contains significant industrial representation from ICI, DuPont, Rolls-Royce, Auxetix Ltd, Hurel-Hispano, Dow Corning, QinetiQ and SEOS Displays Ltd.

The AUXETNET network seeks to promote research into the synthesis, fabrication, testing, applications and modelling of auxetic materials.  One of aims of AUXETNET is to sponsor an annual Young Researchers Forum aimed at bringing together students and young researchers from the different research groups and give them the opportunity to present their work to an expert audience in the field. The next Auxetic Young Researchers Forum is scheduled to be held in Malta in Spring 2005. Further information may be obtained from the website http://home.um.edu.mt/auxetic.