Research projects


As each research institut and laboratory has its expertise, many collaborations between HiFunMat members exist.

ICS has the largest number of ingoing collaborations with other HifunMat laboratories, 97 in total. However, if you look at the number of collaborations per member, LCAMB has no less than 6.5 collaborations per member, runner ups are ICUBE and ICPEES, with 2.9 and 2.5 collaborations per member respectively. ITI HiFunMat aims to initiate new collaborative projects, by financing projects between PIs that have never worked together.

PhD projects

AAP PhD - 2024 - DREAM

Project title: Deciphering the R-Body Extension-RetrAction Mechanism

Thesis Director: Laurent Pieuchot - IS2M

Partners: Tatiana Schmatko & Igor Kulic - ICS

R-bodies are molecular pistons produced by endosymbiotic bacteria that can switch in a fraction of second from self-enrolled 500nm ribbons to 20 microns membrane-perforating needles. Their extension is triggered by pH variation without the consumption of any chemical energy, via a mechanism that remains unclear. Here we propose to decipher R-bodies extension-retraction cycle dynamics and mechanism by combining microfluidics, high speed imaging, force measurement methods and modelling. Briefly, R-bodies will be produced in bacteria and immobilized inside microfluidic chambers allowing buffer exchange on demand. We will assess the influence of buffer viscosity on R-bodies dynamics and the force generated during retraction using high speed imaging and optical tweezers. These data will help us to build a R-body numerical model using the measured parameters. This work will help us to understand the R-Body extension-retraction, opening new roads for the development of organic micro-actuators.


AAP PhD - 2024 - SMILE

Project title: Synthesis of a Membrane Induced by Light and Electrospinned

Thesis director: Anne-Sophie schuller - LPIM

Partner: Emeline Lobry - ICPEES

The SMILE project aims to develop a high-performance membrane for liquid filtration with pore size ranging from 50 nm to 500 nm in order to cover different applications. Combining solvent-free electrospinning and photopolymerization will produce nanofibrous membranes merging the environmental advantages of both manufacturing processes (no solvent, ambient temperature, low energy consumption) and outstanding properties of electrospun fibers. Polyurethane acrylate (PUA) matrix was selected due to its broad use and its excellent mechanical properties and chemical resistance. The goal is to develop photopolymerizable formulations by adapting their kinetics and rheological properties to match with electrospinning process conditions. By tuning the oligomers macromolecular properties and the process conditions (photo physic and process parameters), it is expected to tune the structural properties of the mats. The membrane will be fully characterized (chemistry, fiber diameter, pore, mechanical properties) as well as their filtration or diffusion performance and their chemical resistance.


AAP PhD - 2023 - DesPot-Electro

Project title: Design & Synthesis of Novel TADF Polymer for Opto-Electronic Application

Thesis Director: A. D'Aléo - IPCMS

Partner: N. Leclerc - IPCEES

We aim at synthesizing and studying polymers containing curcuminoid borondifluoride (CurcBF2) for applications in organic electronics. These polymers will present thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) properties allowing to recycle triplet into singlet excited states. Such properties are not common and are expected to lead to a technological breakthrough in organic laser diode application.
While TADF properties will be provided by the CurcBF2 moiety, the polymer structure will allow to control the aggregation of the dyes by choosing the quantity of the CurcBF2 entity relative to the other monomer. Such control is not possible to be achieved with small molecule in blend since CurcBF2 tend to form dimeric aggregates. This work will therefore permit to unravel the spin-orbit component of TADF mechanism. Our strategy also aims at improving the morphological stability which constitutes a prerequisite for industrial use.


AAP PhD - 2023 - CATLOC

Project title: Catalytic Localism in Layer-by-Layer Composite

Thesis Director: N. Keller - ICPEES

Partner: O. Felix - ICS

Water treatment is a priority health issue that scientists must address, as treatments in place to date fail to flush a wide span of high-concern biorecalcitrant organic pollutants, antibiotics in particular. Among high-prospect AOPs, H2O2-driven photo-CWPO catalysis can yield full mineralization of refractory compounds in water at high reaction rates under solar light. However, it still faces a limited perspective for technological deployment due to the necessary external use of costly, non-sustainable H2O2 as oxidant. Based on the concept of catalytic localism, we aim at designing catalytic architectures that embark solar light active catalysts allowing in-situ H2O2 synthesis from H2O and O2 and further usage. They will be built by layer-by layer self-assembly to control the spatial positioning of both catalysts, using organic and inorganic polyelectrolytes. We finally aim at validating their use on non-pathogenic multi-species bacterial biofilms used as sentinels of water quality.



Project title : SUPER resolved miCroscopy for studying the anisotropic opticaL properties of oriented ASsemblies of Silver nanowires

Thesis director  : M. Flury - ICUBE

Partner : M. Pauly - Institut Charles Sadron

Metamaterials are nanostructures with subwavelength dimensions that allow light to be controlled in unprecedented ways. These materials can be prepared by self-assembly of nanoparticles, and the resulting optical properties depend not only on those of the individual building blocks, but mainly on interactions between them. The challenge is thus to measure light interaction with the nanostructures at the micro/nano scale in order to tune the macroscopic far-field response. This project consists in investigating the optical properties of oriented silver nanowire films as function of light polarization and sample deformation. Polarization-dependent 2D Spectral maps will first be measured using white light interference microscopy. Then, super-resolved local spectroscopy using a microsphere will be developed to improve the lateral spatial resolution below the micrometre scale. This experimental data will be compared to rigorous electromagnetic simulations to obtain a better understanding at various scales.




Project title : STED-like Multiphoton Lithography using Bi-functional Self-Immolative Monomers

Thesis director  : J.P. Malval - IS2M UMR 7361

Partner : H. Chaumeil - LIMA UMR 7042

In order to circumvent the real scarcity of photoinitiators suitable for STED-like multiphoton lithography, this project proposes an alternative strategy which will rehabilitate the use of any two-photon active photoinitiator. Our approach which has never been developed to date, will not focus on activation/deactivation of the photoinitiator reactivity but on construction/deconstruction of the photopolymerisable resin. For this purpose, a new generation of bi-functional monomers integrating both photocleavable and crosslinking groups will be elaborated. The implementation of these functions should guarantee a specific phoactivation upon two distinctive excitation wavelengths. Therefore, these smart materials can growth and/or ‘self-immolate’ through a STED-like approach using non specific two-photon active photoinitiators.



AAP PhD - 2021 -Hydro-NHC

Project title : Hydrogels for localized delivery of mitochondria-targeted NHC-platinum complexes to combat glioblastoma.

Thesis director  : B. Heurtault - 3Bio UMR 7199

Partner : S. Bellemin-Laponnaz - IPCMS UMR 7504

PhD student : Patricia Fernandez de Larrinoa

The main objective of the Hydro-NHC project is to develop solutions that can simultaneously eradicate cancer cells and cancer stem cells (CSC) from glioblastoma, by applying localized treatment. To address this issue we will develop organometallic complexes of type metallo-carbene -based on platinum- which induce mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in malignant cells. These complexes will then be formulated and integrated into biocompatible hydrogels based on albumin or hyaluronic acid, allowing prolonged local administration of the therapeutic agent in the heart of the malignant tissue, avoiding the need to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB).



AAP PhD - 2021 - PhotoCat

Project title : 3D Printed Monoliths and Porous Particles by Photocatalyzed Polymerization for Heterogeneous Catalysis

Thesis director  : A. Chemtob - IS2M

Partners : M. Cormier - LIMA & A. Spangenberg - IS2M

PhD student : Cloé Delacourt

Supported catalysts are the major class of catalysts used in industry. With the advent of eco-efficient photoredox catalysis processes, there is a need for a new set of photocatalyst supports. The PhotoCat project aims at preparing a new generation of precisely shaped porous polymer supports embedding non-toxic organic dyes. To ease synthesis, a photocatalyzed radical polymerization is carried out, thus avoiding the need for an initiator and resulting in the single-step preparation of the support and the physical trapping of the photocatalyst. Precise shaping of the support in the form of monoliths or particles are made possible by 3D printing and emulsion polymerization techniques. Control of porosity from micro- to macro scale is ensured by external porogens via templating or phase separation effect. These new heterogeneous photocatalysts are evaluated for model organic transformations (Aza-Henry reaction, [2+2] cyclization of dienone, 1O2photosensitization-oxidation) in batch and flow photoreactors.



Seed Money

AAP Seed money - 2022 - SiPL

Project title : Axial Chirality & Silaheterocycles for Polarized Luminescence Materials

Project leader  : M. Donnard - LIMA

Partner : E. Steveler - ICUBE

Due to their massive use in small screen devices, OLEDs (Organic Light Emitting Devices) are undoubtedly the most developed organic materials. In recent years, a new type of OLEDs called CP-OLEDs, whose specificity is to produce circularly polarized luminescence (CPL), has emerged and is very promising in fields as strategic as 3D displays, cyber security, or medical imaging. In this project we aim at developing for the first time silicon-based scaffolds bearing axial chirality to use them as new CPL promoters. During the course of this work, we will rationalize and correlate the relationship “axial chirality / molecular structure / luminescence properties” to make these new materials valuable for optoelectronic devices.



AAP Seed money - 2022 - COMPOMOF

Project title : Towards innovative hierarchical MOF composites for thermoelectric applications

Project leader  : L. Biniek - ICS

Partners : G. Chaplais & L. Simon - IS2M

The objectives of the COMPOMOF project are to explore the possibilities of synthesizing hierarchical structures combining MOFs (Metal-Organic-Framework) and porous conducting polymers as well as to initiate a new theme on 2D MOFs. Thanks to a nanoprobing station under electron microscopy, we want to study for the first time, at different scales and depending on the organisation and orientation of the structural domains, the physical properties (conductivity, mobility of charge carriers, photo-conduction), their band structure by Angle Resolved Photoelectron Spectroscopy (ARPES) and their potential for thermoelectric applications.



AAP Seed money - 2022 - DREAM

Project title : Deciphering the R-body Extension-retrAction Mechanism

Project leader  : L. Pieuchot - IS2M

Partners : I. Kulic & T. Schmatko - ICS

R-bodies are molecular pistons produced by endosymbiotic bacteria that can switch in a fraction of second from self-enrolled 500nm ribbons to 20 microns membrane-perforating needles. Their extension is triggered by pH variation without the consumption of any chemical energy, via a mechanism that remains unclear. Here we propose to decipher R-bodies extension-retraction cycle dynamics and mechanism by combining microfluidics, high speed imaging, force measurement methods and molecular modelling. Briefly, R-bodies will be produced in bacteria and immobilized inside microfluidic chambers allowing buffer exchange on demand. We will assess the influence of buffer viscosity on R-bodies dynamics and the force generated during retraction using high speed imaging and optical tweezers. We will build a R-body numerical model using the measured parameters. We plan to encapsulate R-bodies into vesicles together with photoacid molecules in order to create a photoinducible delivery system.



AAP Seed money - 2021 - NanoHeatCAPs

Project title : Control of the reversible behaviour of nanoparticles by external stimulus

Project leader  : M. Vauthier - ICS

Partner : K. Mougin - IS2M

Stimuli-responsive particles are interesting since they are able to create reversible and specific interactions depending on their environment. In the NanoHeatCAPs project, we propose to develop and study biocompatible core-shell systems composed of functionalized polymeric particles, encapsulating gold nanoparticles, in order to selectively bond/debond them at different temperatures (by light hyperthermia). After the development of the functional particles encapsulating gold nanoparticles, the bonding of the system at low temperature and the sensitivity of the system to hyperthermia will be investigated.



AAP Seed money - 2021 ProBIOTIon

Project title : Formation and functionalization by ionizing treatment of protein-based biosourced materials

Project leader  : C. Galindo - IPHC

Partner : A. Ponche - IS2M

The valorization of bioresources is an environmentally friendly alternative for substituting crude oil-based plastics. Proteins are promising candidates for the production of biomaterials due to their thermoplastic properties and their structural diversity. Teams of IPHC, IS2M and Aerial aim at combining their expertise to develop self-supporting protein films, and protein-functionalized materials, by irradiation. Ionizing radiation (electron and proton beams) will be used to ensure the cohesive structure of the films, avoiding the addition of crosslinking agent. Composite materials will be developed based on polymers functionalized at their surface by proteins, which will be coupled by radiolysis. The thermomechanical properties of the materials, the degree of crosslinking and the enzymatic activity of the proteins will be evaluated.



Starting Grant

AAP Starting Grant - 2024 - COMBINATOR

Project title: A combinatorial library of elastin-like peptide To explore the link between structure and properties

Project leader: J. Rodon-Fores - ICS - UPR 22

Living materials exhibit unique properties such as elasticity or self-healing. The organization of biomolecules (i.e. proteins and peptides) on several hierarchical length scales and the precise control over the spatiotemporal formation of molecular self-assemblies can partly explain these properties, which are difficult to access in synthetic supramolecular materials. In a minimalist reduction approach inspired by elastin, the COMBINATOR project aims to understand the relationship between the peptide sequence of short elastin-like peptides and the resulting structure-property relationship, in particular rheological and injectability properties. To this end, a combinatorial peptide library will be synthesized based on the expertise of the project leader, to produce in one synthesis all the combinations possible from the initial peptide sequence.


AAP Starting Grant - 2024 - CAROL

Project title: Regenerating otorhinolaryngological cartilage defects using a resorbable implant seeded with cells from the patient

Project leader: L. Fath - INSERM U 1121

Reconstructive surgery in otorhinolaryngology concerns patients with congenital malformations, posttraumatic conditions or after cancer resection. The areas of the human body from which cartilage can be harvested are rare, especially in the context of revision surgery, and lead to aesthetic sequelae. The aim of this project is to develop new alternative to compensate for this shortage of cartilage. In this project, we propose to develop an innovative natural implant based on only albumin and seeded with the implanted patient's own cells. This implant will be two-layered: i) a porous layer, to provide a three-dimensional environment favorable to the proliferation of cartilage cells; ii) a smooth layer dedicated to the restoration of skin epithelium (auricular reconstruction) or respiratory epithelium (nasal or tracheal reconstruction). The aim is to produce an implant that is resorbable, biocompatible, sterilizable, customizable to the area of the nose, ear or trachea to be reconstructed, and with mechanical properties that make it easy to handle during surgery.


AAP Starting Grant - 2023 - MONSTRUOUS

Project title: Metal ON defined STRUctural sites for Oxidation UtilitieS

Project leader: E. Oheix - IS2M - UMR 7361

The project MONSTRUOUS aims for the development of new crystalline materials made of metallic sites positioned in a regular fashion inside the zeolite structural motifs. The preparation of such materials represents an important scientific challenge and would allow developing a new generation of redox catalysts with important perspectives in industrial chemistry and molecular decontamination processes. The synthetic and characterization works proposed herein would allow testing a new methodology for the insertion of metal-ions by disassembly/reassembly of a zeolite discovered in Mulhouse 20 years ago, by adaptation of the Assembly-Dissassembly-Organisation-Resassembly (ADOR) process, recently reported in the scientific literature. This project will take advantage of the expertise of axis MPC in mineral synthesis, as well as the skills and equipment of the IS2M analytical platform for characterisation purposes.


AAP Starting Grant - 2023 - SMLiC OSC

Project title: Small Molecule-Liquid Crystal Organic Solar Cell

Project leader: Y. Lin - ICube

The small molecule organic solar cells remain a promising low-cost renewable energy technology. However, their power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) still lag behind their polymer-based counterparts. The relatively low PCEs are usually limited by their low fill factor and short-circuit current, which mainly originate from the phase separation morphology of the active layer (AL). Typically, the ideal morphology implies reasonable molecular crystallinity and large correlation scales, which favour excitons, separation, and charge transport. To improve the morphology, a new concept has been recently investigated, by introducing liquid crystals (LCs) in the AL. According to the literature, these self-organised materials induce a structuring effect in the AL. Furthermore, some LCs are semiconductors and exhibit photoconductive properties; they contribute to charge transport. In this work, a comparative study of the effects provided by discotic and calamitic LCs will be studied. Different methods are used to optimise the orientation of the liquid crystals in the AL (surfactants, magnetic fields...) will also be carried out.


AAP Starting Grant - 2023 - TGreenA

Project title: ThermoGravimetric Analysis (TGA) of Green-solvent based, sustainable materials for construction

Project leader: M. Vahdati - ICS

Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents (NaDES) are a new generation of green solvents obtained by mixing natural sugars, acids, and salts at certain mixing ratios favoring abundant complementary H-bonding interactions leading to a homogenous liquid with a deep eutectic point. Due to the high hydrophilicity of NaDES components, the physico-chemical and mechanical properties of NaDES and NaDES-based gels (Eutectogels) are known to be impacted by water as an impurity (or additive). Our first objective is to precisely measure and control the water content of these materials by thermo-gravimetric analysis (TGA). NaDES are also known to have very low vapor pressures, to the point that most of them are practically involatile. Our second objective is to develop green eutectogels (gels prepared in NaDES) with thermal stability superior to hydrogels for potential industrial applications.


AAP Starting Grant - 2022 - ANIMALS

Project title : A New Interface for ammonia generation: Membranes And ionic LiquidS

Project leader  : A. Tristan - ICPEES

This project discusses alternatives to the Haber-Bosch process at the local scale, for ammonia generation. One of such alternatives is the nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR). The latter operates at room temperature and ambient pressure, i.e. in less extreme conditions than the Haber-Bosch process. However, it suffers from limitations of its own, including a low ammonia generation rate and faradaic efficiency, induced by (i) poor kinetics and thermodynamics and (ii) competition with the fast, and simple, hydrogen evolution reac-tion (HER). As such, new perspectives are needed, which go beyond classic electrocatalysts design. In this project, we aim to tackle those limitations by redesigning the electrode-electrolyte interface, to (i) increase the concentration of N2 and (ii) decrease the concentration of H2O/H+ at the interface, to favour the NRR and limit the contribution of the HER and to (iii) investigate other proton sources for the nitrogen reduction reaction.



AAP Starting grant - 2021 SMARTY

Project title : Select, Detect, Deplete: Multimodal PlAtfoRms for Photodynamic TherapY

Project leader  : C. Figliola - COMBO - ICPEES UMR 7515

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a photochemistry−based treatment using the therapeutic effects of the light in combination with a photosensitizer (PS) and molecular oxygen. PDT is currently used as complementary to other antimicrobial and anticancer therapies. Based on a disease-focused strategy and in order to define and optimize PDT−centered protocols, SMARTY proposes the development of organic multimodal platforms including a stimuli−responsive two−photon absorption (2PA) PS for PDT, a fluorophore for imaging and a targeting moiety for tissue selectivity. First, new boron complexes and pyrrolyldipyrrins scaffolds will be studied as potential 2PA PS. Secondly, theranostic dyads will be prepared using the 2PA PS and NIR fluorophores, such as BODIPYs. Last, a targeting molecule will be introduced following the synthetic optimization of three−fold organic platforms. The synthetic investigations will be completed by photophysical studies as well as in vitro and in vivo tests.



AAP Starting grant - 2021 FoamFibMat

Project title : Foam-Fibre systems: from model experiments to novel architected materials

Project leader  : A. Hourlier-Fargette

Aurélie Hourlier-Fargette studies of the mechanical self-assembly of bubbles and fibres driven by elastocapillarity. Controlling the structure of architected materials is crucial to optimise their mechanical properties: the structure of a liquid foam template, guided by capillarity only, leads to inherently soft solids. The use of foam-fibre systems as liquid templates before solidification will open novel fabrication strategies. The ambition of the project is twofold: (i) providing a fundamental understanding on foam-fibre assemblies through the study of forms and forces in aqueous model systems where both capillarity and elasticity are at play ; (ii) developing a novel strategy to design self-assembled and bioinspired materials with solidified structures not accessible by existing foam templating techniques, exhibiting specific mechanical properties.



Return from Career break

AAP RIC - 2022 - PhyStraFoam

Project title: Using physics principles to develop novel strategies of foam templating

Project leader: A. Hourlier-Fargette - ICS


AAP Equipment - 2022

CRYION: Cryostat pour l’irradiation par des ions à basse tempérture

D. Muller - ICube


MAEM: Mouillabilité et Adhésion à l’Echelle Micrométrique

P. Kunemann - IS2M


RESOURCE: Renouvellement console passeur échantillons spectromètre

D. Le Nouen - LIMA


Acknowledgement policy

The visibility of the ITI program, and in particular its results in terms of research and training, must be reflected in a common policy of acknowledgement in publications and works.
To this end, please include the following acknowledgement in all scientific publications and books resulting from work carried out under the ITI, in the space provided by the publisher for this purpose:

 « Ce travail s’inscrit dans le cadre de l’Institut Thématique Interdisciplinaire des matériaux hiérarchique et fonctionnel, dans les domaines de la santé, de l’environnement, et de l’énergie, du programme ITI 2021-2028 de l’Université de Strasbourg, du CNRS et de l’Inserm. Il a bénéficié du soutien financier de l’IdEx Unistra (ANR-10-IDEX-0002), et du financement au titre du Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir dans le cadre du SFRI-STRATUS (ANR ANR-20-SFRI-0012) ».

« This work of the Interdisciplinary Thematic Institute HiFunMat, as part of the ITI 2021-2028 program of the University of Strasbourg, CNRS and Inserm, was supported by IdEx Unistra (ANR-10-IDEX-0002) and SFRI (STRAT’US project, ANR-20-SFRI-0012) under the framework of the French Investments for the Future Program. »


Faculté de physique & ingénierie
Faculté de chimie
Carnot MICA