The Laboratory

The Ceramic Synthesis and Functionalisation Laboratory (LSFC in French) is a joint unit between the CNRS and Saint-Gobain. It is hosted in the Saint-Gobain Research Provence Centre, in Cavaillon (Vaucluse, France)

Presentation of the laboratory

The LSFC (Laboratoire de Synthèse et Fonctionnalisation des Céramiques) is a mixt unit between the CNRS and Saint-Gobain, funded in 2004, labelled UMR (“Unité Mixte de Recherches”) since 2008. Caroline Tardivat is currently the lab director. Staff members (researchers, technicians and non-permanent staff) are either from CNRS or Saint-Gobain. We are hosted in Saint-Gobain Research Provence, in Cavaillon, in region Vaucluse.

As a mixt unit between public and industrial partners, our goal is to develop an expertise in the domain of ceramics, in order to understand the different synthesis mechanisms or tailor the properties of the materials; and hence to explore the creation of emerging technologies. Thanks to our link with Saint-Gobain, we have a clear view of the possible applications desired by the industry and of their technical needs. Many projects we study are hence related to processes or products developed in Saint-Gobain, or are later exploited by the company.

Topics of research and Skills

Our research is focused on the formation of functionnal ceramics. This is done by a control of their structural properties (multi-scale organisation, chemical composition), of their porosity and of their surface properties. We hence have skills on all the steps involved in the fabrication and characterisation of materials, such as:

The synthesis of materials

We study the synthesis of metal-oxide and ceramic particles by hydrothermal or thermic pathways. Our goals go from the control of the particles shape or their chemical composition to the optimisation of their surface area. We also study the formation of core-shell hybrid particles, using radical polymerisation in inert atmosphere in presence of inorganic seeds.

Shaping the materials

We use diverse techniques to shape our materials. For example, ice-templating allows via a control freezing of a suspension to form a material with an inner structural organisation and multi-scale porosity. We also study the formation of bulk ceramic pieces via 3D-printing applications, by exploring the rheological properties of the ink to organise the ceramic piece at the micron-scale. Finally, sintering is a crucial step we study to strengthen our materials.

Characterisation of our materials

Within our lab and also within the Saint-Gobain Research Provence centre, we have access to a large panel of characterisation techniques: dynamic light scattering (DLS), zeta-potential for diluted or concentrated suspensions, thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA); but also scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XrD), nitrogen-sorption, mercury porosimetry. Thanks to our network, we also have access to (cryo-)transmission electron microscopy ((cryo-)TEM), small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), tomography, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). We regularly request beamtimes at large scale facilities (synchrotrons, neutron sources).

Properties of the materials

We study the rheological properties of suspensions (rheometre) before shaping, then the mechanical (3-point bending test, indentation), catalytic (catalysis bench) or conductive properties of our materials.

The Team

L’équipe The team is currently composed of Robert Germar (head of the lab), Helena Kaper and Julien Schmitt (CNRS researcher). We also have around ten non-permanent staff, including postdocs, PhD-students and interns.

The photo above shows a part of the team in summer 2022. From left to right: (front row) Maya Ibrahim, Kirthiga Parthiban, Swapneel Thakkar. (back row) Hadi Dib, Rémy Pointecouteau, Alexey Novikov, Julien Schmitt, Helena Kaper.