Highlight: Georges Hadziioannou, chemist of the future
Georges Hadziioannou is passionate about chemistry and technology. Since 2011, as well as being a professor-researcher at LCPO*, professor of chemistry at the University of Bordeaux and senior member of the Institut universitaire de France, he has run the ELORPrintTec** facility of excellence.
The ELORPrintTec facility, unmatched anywhere in the world, was set up to design organic electronic materials integrating innovative characteristics.
Read on for a meeting with Prof. Hadziioannou, innovator of objects of the future.
What was the reason for setting up the ELORPrintTec facility?
My aim was to develop an innovative facility capable of incorporating the technological tools that our research laboratories need so much in their bid to move ahead. France already possessed six facilities specializing in silicon-based semiconductor materials but there were none focusing on carbon-based electronic materials.
The possibilities opened up by the Investments for the Future Program enabled me to develop the Bordeaux facility with the help of local colleagues, first and foremost those I like to call my “three musketeers”: S. Khiev, A. Manson and W. Smaal.
What will ELORPrintTec offer science and the future?
By combining its current excellence in the areas of electronics, nanotechnology, nanosciences and synthesis of materials, ELORPrintTec will allow the creation from scratch of materials, devices and organic electronic systems that are both flexible and printable. These materials are carbon-based [and not silicon-based as in conventional electronics] and have amazing properties. They can be fashioned into light emitters, implanted in the human body or connected with the environment. It is truly revolutionary, as the scope is almost boundless.
Objects will be much easier to make and their recycling will be improved. They will be cheaper and more readily available. Industry has already started to make use of this emerging technology to develop its products. Curved TV sets and mobile phone HD screens have already been launched on the market. In 2010 the market was already estimated at some $27-30 bn.
How does the project offer you both professional and personal fulfillment?
My passionate interest for my work has always been my guiding light. For me, chemistry is a way of understanding and transforming matter. Everything is based on it: without chemistry there would be no medicines, no food. At present, however, it has something of an image problem and its ability to amaze has been rather forgotten. The entire ELORPrintTec team are now enjoying a marvelous adventure together developing a new technology.
Which successful EquipEx project are you most proud of?
Building EquipEx, brick by brick, was in itself a huge challenge, the product of a long history and a dream that eventually came to fruition. The system for elaboration and characterization of the electronic devices and systems installed in the facility will satisfy the most curious scientific minds while leading to the discovery and production of objects capable of being industrialized.
In what way will your work benefit other structures at the University of Bordeaux?
The contacts we have with other structures at Bordeaux are priceless, especially the accredited structures within the framework of the Investments for the Future Program, with whom we work jointly on several projects. With the MUSIC EquipEx, our efforts are focused on developing materials to improve heart simulators in conjunction with actual patients, and to enhance the performance of the tools invented by doctors. We are developing sensors with the BRAIN LabEx to enable electroencephalograms to be carried out directly in the brain, in order to detect epilepsy signals, for instance. More broadly, our work will be useful to any stakeholder developing new objects both in France and abroad. Researchers will be able to take advantage of this facility, the only one of its kind in the world, to carry out their trials and scientific studies. Companies too will have access to our facility and our expertise to test their products and develop new ones. And naturally the users and end customers who are at the core of our thinking will benefit.
[*] LCPO: Chemistry of organic polymers laboratory
[**] ELORPrintTec was awarded accreditation within the framework of the Investments for the Future Program, and is coordinated by the University of Bordeaux.