Graduate School program

The HiFunMat Graduate School is based on three Master Programs (Material science and engineering, Chemistry and Physics), and offers a supplement to the Master diploma. Students will follow the standard curriculum of their Master program, and in addition follow courses and training activities in skills essential in material science and common to all three associated research fields.

In the first year of the Graduate School program students will be introduced to materials science and familiarize themselves with the main characterization techniques (theoretical and practical courses).

In the second year, students will deepen their knowledge in material science and the conception of hierarchical and functional materials. They will also acquire all the soft skills needed to ensure professional insertion.



Semester 1 - ITI HiFunMat : Introductory course

Semester 1 or 2 - HiFunMat labeled elective course

Semester 2 - ITI HiFunMat : Concepts and Methods

Semester 3 - ITI HiFunMat : Advanced course

Semester 3 or 4 - HiFunMat labeled optional course

Semester 4 - ITI HiFunMat : Research and professional development

Semestre 1

ITI HiFunMat Introductory course


This introductory course brings together all M1 students from the various Master's programs (PHYS, SGM, CHEM) enrolled in the Graduate School program of ITI HiFunMat. This is a physical chemistry course on soft matter, macromolecular materials and important characterization techniques (NMR, IR, elemental and thermal analysis, molecular weight determination, scattering or optical methods, etc.). The aim is to provide an introduction to materials science and characterization and to address the need for interdisciplinary teamwork in materials science.

This course consists of 27h of lecture courses, that are taught on 9 Saturday mornings during the first semester. All courses take place on the Esplanade campus in Strasbourg.


Skills that will be acquired

Basics of macromolecular chemistry

  • Definitions: macromolecule, polymer, polymolecularity
  • Introduction to the main polymerization techniques (radical, step polymerization, ring opening, Ziegler-Natta)
  • Polymer states (melt, solution, glass transition, crystallization, etc.),
  • Fields of application, introduction to formulation

Soft matter analysis techniques

  • Analysis of small molecules (IR, UV, Raman, GC, HPLC, NMR, MS and coupled techniques)
  • Analysis of polymers and resins in solution (IR, NMR, SEC, viscometry, MALDI-TOF, static light scattering, etc.)
  • Thermal analysis of polymers and composites (DSC, ATG, RX, optical microscopy, ...)
  • Surface analysis (MO, EDXRA, BET, wettability, surface tension, tribology, IR, SEM, TEM, AFM, etc.)
  • Analysis of polymers and resins in the molten state (rheology)
  • Analysis of polymer dispersions (dynamic light scattering, zeta potential, granulometry, interfacial tension)
  • Introduction to mechanical testing
  • Other possible techniques: ellipsometry, SAXS, ESCA, TOF-SIMS, EPM, atomic spectroscopy, etc.



Christophe Serra & Jean-Francois Stumbé


UE à choix


HiFunMat students must choose an additional elective course from their Master's program during the first or second for the HiFunMat diploma supplement. The courses from which can be chosen can be found in the 2023-2024 course booklet. Please contact Melodie Galerne for more information.



Melodie Galerne & Head of the Master programs

Semester 2

ITI HiFunMat Concepts and Methods


This course aims to provide the knowledge needed to carry out an experiment, select and eventually use the most appropriate characterization instrument, and process and analyze the resulting data. It also includes a series of educational activities and seminars designed to develop students' soft skills.

This course consists of 16h (2 days) of practical courses, 1 afternoon dedicated to the portfolio, and 1 afternoon dedicated to a peer / project-based learning module. All take place during the second semester. The practical courses take place either in Strasbourg or Mulhouse.

Practical work (TP)

Students will carry out practical works on characterization techniques that are not normally part of their Master's program. The practical works will take place in HiFunMat laboratories and/or technical platforms. Students will be accompanied by specialized personnel (engineers, researchers, technicians) who will provide them with theoretical and practical knowledge of the characterization technique, as well as training in data processing and analysis. Students write a report on their practical work.

Peer / project-based learning

The students will present their practical work to each other. These presentations should be educational, and have as objective to inform their peers about the techniques they have used, their theoretical basis, the nature of the analyses carried out and the types of materials that can be analyzed. Next, a HiFunMat Ph.D. student will present his or her thesis topic (introduction to the subject, background, some information on the materials studied and research questions). Afterwards, the students will all work together to propose a scientific plan, including experiments and characterization techniques, to answer the research questions of the Ph.D. project. The final part of the afternoon will be an open discussion between the students, the Ph.D. student and the teaching staff.


Objectives of the portfolio: The portfolio will be both a (self-)assessment and validation of skills portfolio. It will be a support containing acquired skills that the student can use during his/her job search to highlight his/her skills, and present them at job interviews.

Skills to acquire: To be able to identify your skills, to reflect on them and to define your level of competence (technical and interpersonal skills).



Christophe Serra & Melodie Galerne


UE à choix


HiFunMat students must choose an additional elective course from their Master's program during the first or second for the HiFunMat diploma supplement. The courses from which can be chosen can be found in the 2023-2024 course booklet. Please contact Melodie Galerne for more information.



Melodie Galerne & Head of the Master programs

Semestre 3

ITI HiFunMat Advanced course


In this advanced materials science course, the various research areas involved in the development of hierarchically structured and functional materials will be addressed by specialized researchers/teachers.

This course consists of 33h of lecture courses, that are taught on Saturday mornings and/or afternoons during the first semester. Part of the courses take place on the Illberg campus in Mulhouse, the rest on the Esplanade Campus in Strasbourg.


Skills that will be acquired

Course 1 - From object to molecule and molecule to object
Concepts and relationships between molecules that can give rise to an object with a property/function:

  • Principles of chirality, chiral synthons and their use in materials science, compounds derived from the depolymerization of bio-based macromolecules.
  • Designing objects from molecular building blocks that can associate and self-assemble to give specific properties and characteristics. Concrete examples of applications will be presented and discussed.


Course 2 - Surfaces and Interfaces
Surfaces (definition, scales, type) :

  • Curved surfaces (NP metals, nano-oxides, porous materials) and flat surfaces
  • Surface design, top-down and bottom-up synthesis, functionalization and characterization


  • Adsorption, surface reactivity and heterogeneous catalysis
  • Surfaces under light irradiation

Course 3 - Basic principles of flexible polymer networks

  • Basic principles of soft matter mechanics (static and dynamic)
  • Soft polymer networks (rubbers, (hydro)gels, flexible adhesives)
  • Understanding of important material properties (static and dynamic moduli, creep, relaxation, strength, toughness and fatigue).


Course 4 - Sol-gel process and hybrid materials

  • Introduction and basic concepts
  • Hydrolysis-condensation reactions for silanes and transition metals
  • Methods for characterizing sol-gel reactions
  • Thin films (production, nanostructuring, applications)
  • Hybrid materials (classification, processing, properties, hierarchical materials, applications)
  • Photochemical approaches


Course 5 - Biomimicry for sustainable development

  • The concepts of biomimicry and biomimetic design
  • The strengths of biomimicry in science and engineering
  • Raising awareness of sustainable development
  • Biomimetic design for sustainable development in materials science


Course 6 - Biointerface engineering

  • Overview of the different types of biomaterials (metals, ceramics, polymers, composites, 3D-printed fabrics...) and their purpose; biomaterial-cell interfaces; proteins.
  • Fundamental aspects of cell/tissue responses to biomaterials (cell structure, extracellular matrix composition, cell sensing and response to the environment, biochemical/mechanical signaling pathways, importance of substrate stiffness, topography...).
  • Interface manipulation to control cellular response; Purification of proteins from tissues; Recombinant proteins; Passive adsorption, grafting; Modification of rigidity, topography (structuring); Monitoring cellular response; Biochemistry, Omics, microscopy....
  • Concrete examples: bone tissue implants, breast implants, hydrogels, 3D scaffolding... What works, what doesn't, model surfaces/materials for studying cell/microenvironment interactions, research articles to discuss...


Course 7 - Applications and environmental applications

  • Green chemistry and synthesis processes
  • Supported catalysis and solar photocatalysis
  • Air pollution control (catalytic converters, VOC degradation, CO oxidation) and water pollution control (ultra-filtration, adsorption, decontamination)
  • Intelligent coatings


Course 8 - Energy materials
Understand the functions that materials can perform in electrical energy generation devices (photovoltaic and thermoelectric) and how organic materials engineering can contribute to the development of more efficient systems.



Christophe Serra

Morgan Donnard, Stéphane Bellemin-Laponnaz, Valérie Caps, Mehdi Vahdati, Olivier Soppera, Laurent Pieuchot, Thomas Heiser


UE à choix


HiFunMat students must choose an additional elective course from their Master's program during the third semester for the HiFunMat diploma supplement. The courses from which can be chosen can be found in the 2023-2024 course booklet. Please contact Melodie Galerne for more information.



Melodie Galerne & Head of the Master programs

Semester 4

ITI HiFunMat Research and professional development


This course could take the form of a summer school. During the summer current topics in materials science will be addressed (e.g. materials for energy and sustainable development, materials for health, materials for the environment, etc.). The aim is to approach these topics from different angles (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.) and points of view (scientific, socio-economic). Students are expected to present a poster and take part in all scientific activities (scientific courses, seminars, collaborative projects, sessions on career prospects, etc.) and activities focusing on soft skills (presentation skills, scientific writing, etc.), good scientific practice or intercultural aspects of studying or working in the European Campus region.

The summer school takes place at the end of June or the beginning of July and takes 3 to 4 days.

Find out all about our previous summer schools on the summer school webpage


Melodie Galerne


Each Ph.D. student is enrolled in one of the participating Ecoles Doctorales (ED):

  • ED 182 - Ecole Doctorale de Physique et Chimie-Physique
  • ED 222 - Ecole Doctorale des Sciences Chimiques
  • ED 269 - Ecole Doctorale de Mathématiques, Sciences de l'Information et de l'Ingénieur


In addition to the program and obligations imposed by the doctoral schools (54h of topical courses ; 54h of cross-training and professional development ; participation in a congress), HiFunMat Ph.D. students will participate in complementary activities to acquire a more interdisciplinary vision of research, which is important today in the field of materials science. There are three mandatory training activities :

  • ITI HiFunMat summer schools (participation free of charge)
  • HiFunMat labeled courses for the scientific training of the ED
  • Professionalisation modules


Furthermore, they will be able to assist to all scientific events organized by ITI HiFunMat:

  • ITI HiFunMat scientific research days (intra axis and inter axes)
  • HiFunMat didactic seminars
  • HiFunMat scientific seminars


The students will be asked to present their results, in the form of oral or poster presentations, during the summer schools and / or scientific days. This will give them the oppurtunity the present their results on a regular basis and to acquire strong competences in communication and networking. Finally, they will have to occasion to benefit from a mentoring program, (participating is on a volontary basis) and profit from the fact that they are part of the HiFunMat network.

Faculté de physique & ingénierie
Faculté de chimie
Carnot MICA