PhD Position Microscopic energy dissipation mechanisms in composite materials

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L’École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris (ESPCI Paris) is a “Grande École d’ingénieurs” and an internationally renowned research center constituted of 17 laboratories. The ESPCI Paris is proud of its strong research collaborations with industry as well as its research-oriented education program in physics, chemistry, and biology. The selected candidate will join the Chimie Moléculaire, Macromoléculaire, Matériaux (C3M) laboratory, which focuses on the design, synthesis and study of molecular, colloidal, polymeric, and composite materials organized at different scales. The laboratory is known for conducting fundamental research inspired by and oriented towards industrial applications.

Research aims
Polymer composites are versatile materials characterized by a complex, hierarchical microstructure entailing a wide variety of energy dissipation mechanisms, which can be tailored to meet the most demanding applications. However, the connection between their microstructure and their mechanical properties is not well understood. This knowledge gap hinders the development of novel materials with specific properties. This project aims at elucidating the relationship between the microscopic structure of composite materials and their mechanical properties, especially nonlinear.
In this thesis, we aim to achieve this goal implementing an innovative experimental platform that integrates shear rheology, light scattering and microscopy. It will allow us to measure at the same time the microscopic structure of the sample, how it evolves under shear, and the underlying distribution of local stresses, probed thanks to the introduction of mechanophore molecules. To fully exploit the potential of this experimental platform, we will primarily focus on model polymer composites with well-defined structural and mechanical properties. To this end, we will explore novel approaches to the preparation of polymer composites, in which the matrix and the filler networks are assembled sequentially, in solution. This will enable a consistent study of the whole spectrum of reinforcements, including the limiting cases of pure polymer or particle networks, which will help highlighting the peculiarities of composite materials over simpler, single-component systems.

This study will provide guidelines for the formulation of materials with specific mechanical properties. To test the generality of these results, this project will also entail the study of a wider class of industrially-relevant composite materials.

Candidate profile and recruitment terms
Knowledge and skills : The candidate should have experience in Soft Matter Physics. Skills in organic and polymer chemistry will be appreciated. An intimate knowledge of the optical and/or rheological characterization of colloidal and polymeric materials is a plus. We are particularly interested in candidates who are driven to tackle fundamental research problems.

Required training : The candidate must be graduated in Soft Matter physics or equivalent by the start date

Start date and duration : 01/09/2023 with a duration of 3 years

Supervisor : Stefano Aime (
Co-supervisors : François Tournilhac (, Christophe Meyer (
Funding source : ANR JCJC grant 22-CE06-0025 ( : Microscopic Energy Dissipation mechanisms in Composite materials (MEDiCo)

How to apply
Applications (CV and cover letter) should be sent to Stefano Aime (

10 Rue Vauquelin, 75005 Paris