■ Formulation of self-healing vitrimer membranes

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Description of the PhD project

Vitrimers, invented in 2011 by the group of Leibler, are chemically crosslinked networks characterized by the presence of exchangeable links, a feature that allows to change topology while keeping the integrity of the network. Vitrimers show unusual combination of properties: they are both insoluble and processable, and flow in the same way as glass at high temperature. This makes them fundamentally recognized as a third and new class of polymeric materials, alongside thermoplastics and thermosets, and on a practical level as a new means of controlling and resolving problems of (re)processing, chemical strength and thermal resistance of materials and composites.
The goal of this project is to design new vitrimers with adequate functionality to ensure efficient transport properties and self-healing. Such materials are heavily needed to develop clean processes in chemical engineering, energy and food industries. The Ph-D student will develop and study new vitrimer formulation compliant with current membrane processes and provided with extended functionality.


Vitrimers, Chemical networks, Transport membranes, Energy

Research unit

UMR7167 Soft Matter & Chemistry

Description of the research Unit/subunit

The Soft Matter and Chemistry Laboratory, MMC, established in 2001 by Ludwik Leibler at ESPCI Paris, is involved in research combining fundamental and applied aspects. The activity covers chemistry, colloid and polymer physics and materials science. Including ten staff people (researchers, teachers, technical and administrative), the laboratory hosts PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from different continents and backgrounds. The laboratory maintains numerous collaborations with industrial partners in sectors as diverse as chemicals, oil exploration, automotive, biomedical devices, pharmaceuticals, coatings, cosmetics and water treatment.

Name of the supervisor
François Tournilhac (francois.tournilhac@espci.fr)

3i Aspects of the proposal

This project addresses several KET issues in the field of materials:
Functionalized vitrimer membranes for ion transport offer self-healing properties. Beyond increased performance and durability, self-healing is also valuable as an aid to the assembly of multilayer devices that are ubiquitous in clean energy production and storage systems.
In this project, a priority will be to devise reliable formulations showing efficient ionic transport, easy implementation in the form of thin films, easy assembling and self healing properties. Such a knowledge constitutes a patentable foreground.
This project is at the interface between soft matter chemistry, physics, modelling, chemical engineering and technology applied to energy management. The Ph-D student will also have to deal with aspects related to the protection of intellectual property.
As a rule, PhD students from our laboratory do one or more short internships in a foreign laboratory or, more often, in French or foreign companies with whom we collaborate. e.g. Michelin (France), Schlumberger (United States) , Sabic (Netherlands), Hitachi (Japan) ...

Expected Profile of the candidate

We will look for a candidate holding a Master’s degree in Chemistry or Physicochemistry. In addition to basic knowledge of organic chemistry, methods of synthesis and analysis of polymers, a background in rheology, mechanics, microscopy, spectroscopy, diffraction and modeling applied to the formulation and study of materials will be highly appreciated.

Important dates

Call for applications : from July 16th to September 17th 2018
Eligibility check results : Late September
3i Committee evaluation results : Late October
Interviews from the shortlisted candidates with the Selection Committee : Mid-December (week of December 10th)
Final results : Late December

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