Rhodia, the University of Pennsylvania, and France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) are beginning a multiyear collaboration on using “soft matter” to foster sustainability. Rhodia defines soft matter as any matter that isn’t a solid or gas, such as polymers, foams, gels, liquids, and colloids. As part of the program, some 20 researchers will work at Penn’s Materials Research & Scientific Engineering Center, in Philadelphia, and Rhodia’s R&D center in Bristol, Pa. In the near term, the scientists will study the formulation of biobased materials for personal care and other markets, says Paul-Joël Derian, Rhodia’s worldwide director of research. The collaboration is also targeting materials for energy storage and additives that help farmers’ fields retain water.