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Filling Gaps in Materials Space: Methods and applications

Cet article est une traduction de :
Remplir les manques dans l’espace des matériaux : méthodes et applications

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Source: La lettre, no. 38, June 2014

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1In October 2013, a two-day symposium was held to conclude the year 2012 / 2013 of the Liliane Bettencourt Chair of Technological Innovation which had been devoted “customized materials”.

2The theme chosen for this symposium was “Filling Gaps in Materials Space: Methods and applications”. Developing “customized materials”, which is proving to be a major challenge for modern materials science, first and foremost means creating a material, in the general sense described in the lecture series, in which unusual properties are combined, such as hardness and tolerance to damage, or thermal inertia and conductivity. Hence the choice of the expression “filling gaps in materials space”. The aim of the symposium was to identify feasible methods to meet this challenge (microstructure control, architecture control and bio-inspiration).

3It brought together expertise from fields as diverse as physics, chemistry, mechanics, materials science, applied mathematics, and biology. A series of presentations provided examples of “engineered” materials and “natural” materials, in a wide variety of areas such as building insulation, sensors, electromagnetic field shielding and biomedical applications, and in living beings as diverse as molluscs, sharks, plants, and fish. They demonstrated both possible advances, with a joint approach combining “architectured materials” and “bio-inspiration”, and the challenges raised for the design as well as the elaboration of these materials. It became apparent that the interfaces between materials of different kinds would play a major role in future developments, be it through physico-chemistry, through forms or through potential gradients. The design of materials with ranked microstructures, combining geometry and microstructures, appeared as the natural field of exploration at the interface between materials science and biology. The analysis, from an evolutionist perspective, of the “materials solutions” found in nature seems very promising. Additive manufacturing technology offers an appealing alternative to the “bottom-up” strategies stemming from soft chemistry.

4The communities gathered for this symposium, which meet too infrequently, have an interaction potential that could generate a wealth of “technological innovation” and knowledge on the evolution of living beings and their adaptation to external stimuli. In this sense, this symposium, which brought together teams from France, Germany, Belgium and the United States, was the natural conclusion of the whole lecture series, in the spirit of the Collège de France which presents research in the making, and in that of the Liliane Bettencourt Chair of Technological Innovation, which endeavours to stimulate technological innovations that may stem from it.

• Videos of the symposium are available at, on the professors page.

• This Chair is funded by the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation.

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Référence électronique

Yves BRéCHET, « Filling Gaps in Materials Space: Methods and applications  », La lettre du Collège de France [En ligne], 9 | 2015, mis en ligne le 28 septembre 2015, consulté le 27 mars 2017. URL :

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Professor at Grenoble-INP, Visiting Professor at McMaster University (Canada) and Shangai Jiao Tong University (China). High Commissioner for Atomic Energy and member of the Académie des Sciencesen62

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