On the 15th June 2019, the second edition of the “Visit Each Other” initiative took place at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) of Zürich. Organized by the Swiss Young Chemists’ Association (SYCA) and sponsored by the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS), this event is an excellent opportunity for the groups of the host institution to showcase their work and for the visitors to network and become aware of the cutting-edge research that is performed in the laboratory next door. 

The visit started at the ETH campus Hönggerberg from the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences (D-CHAB), where the Laboratory of Prof. Christophe Copéret was represented by Ms. Margherita Pucino (Figure 1a,b). Her amazing results in the field of organometallic catalysts-mediated C=C metathesis demonstrated once more that it is at the meeting point between basic and applied research where technological breakthroughs can arise. 

Moving to the Department of Materials (D-MATL) and to the Multifunctional Materials Laboratory, led by Prof. Markus Niederberger, Dr. Walter Remo Caseri unraveled the chemical secrets of roman concrete (Figure 1c), Ms. Murielle Schreck discussed the production of photocatalytic aerogels (Figure 1d), while the use of lipid vesicles as nanoreactors and the development of wearable batteries were the topics respectively of Mr. Cvjetan Nemanjaand Ms. Linda Wehner. 

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Figure 1. Moments of the visit to (a,b) Prof. Copéret Laboratory, (c,d) Prof. Niederberger Laboratory.

The variegated activities of the Laboratory of Soft and Living Materials (Prof. Eric R. Dufresne) were then presented by Ms. Tianqi Sai (structural colors by colloidal assembly), Mr. Alexandre Torzynsky (mechanical properties of lipid vesicles and bilayers) and Dr. Guido Panzarasa (complex chemical dynamics for the development of transient, self-regulating materials).

The permanent exhibition on the history of chemistry, with its collection of chemicals, instruments and other laboratory paraphernalia from the 19th century, gave the opportunity to consider that modern chemists really stand on the shoulders of past giants such as Werner, Ruzicka, Staudinger and many others which also contributed to make the chemical research performed at ETH a worldwide model. 

After so much food for thought, it became time to consider actual food too! The lunch took place on the terrasse of the restaurant “Die Waid”, from which the eye could also rejoice from the beautiful view over Oerlikon and Zürich (Figure 2). 

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Figure 2. Lunch at the restaurant “Die Waid”.

The event was concluded after a brief tour of the historical building of ETH Zentrum, which gave also the possibility to enjoy the view from the Polyterrasse, and a stroll in Zürich around the Limmat.  

In total, 14 people attended the event, of which two were post-doctoral researchers and the others PhD students. The visitors came from EPFL (Lausanne), PSI (Villigen) as well as from ETH. The first “Visit Each Other” took place in EPFL last year; the next will be hosted at the University of Bern, soon after the summer break.

Dr. Guido Panzarasa, ETHZ and SYCA