PhD Students

Nicolas Dimov

Sarah Gayot
has completed a Master’s degree in Chemistry at the French University of Lille in 2018, with a major in Polymer & Composite Engineering. Since then, she has joined the Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) to start a PhD under the joint supervision of Pr. Thomas Pardoen (IMAP) and Pr. Christian Bailly (IMCN). Resulting from a partnership between UCL and the chemical company Arkema, represented by Dr. Michel Glotin and Dr. Pierre Gérard, Sarah’s work aims at improving the mechanical properties of continuous glass fibre reinforced thermoplastic acrylic composites, for the manufacturing of recyclable composite parts. To do so, a dual approach has been suggested: first, a top-down analysis of real-scale composite samples should lead to a better understanding of (i) the mechanical behavior of thick parts and (ii) the origin of defects in the material - e.g. porosity . Then, adopting a bottom-up perspective should help correct (or at least control) the occurrence of such defects during the manufacturing of CFRTP.

Nathan Klavzer
graduated as a chemical and materials engineer at UCLouvain (Belgium) in 2019, with a specific focus on materials engineering. He is currently working on a PhD thesis, which started in January 2020, under the supervision of Prof. Pardoen at UCLouvain. His research is centred around the micro/nano-mechanical behaviour of highly crosslinked epoxy resins used as matrices for fibre reinforced composites. Precisely understanding the micro/nano-mechanisms dictating the nucleation and development of deformation and fracture has become of particular interest in the composite sector, in order to improve the predictive capabilities of numerical models. Hence, the objective of his research is to unravel the origin of the heterogeneous low scale deformation and related fracture observed in epoxy resins.

Vincent Voet
graduated as a mechanical engineer at the Université catholique de Louvain in 2019. He is currently performing a PhD thesis in partnership with Thales Alenia Space under the supervision of Prof. Aude Simar and Prof. Thomas Pardoen. His research focuses on thermal ageing of electronic component solder joints for space applications. Electronic equipments for satellites have to face temperature variations during their lifetime. It leads to solder joints thermal cycling due to coefficients of thermal expansion mismatches between the parts of electronic assemblies such as electronic components, solder joints and printed circuit boards (PCB). This research work aims to provide confidence interval estimates to predict the probability of succes or failure of electronic assemblies under specified conditions.

Senior scientists / postdoctoral researchers

Pierre Bollen, Dr, Senior scientist - Composites, Hybrids, coatings
graduated as engineer in chemistry and materials science at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 2010. In 2015, he obtained at UCL his PhD thesis entitled hierarchical hybrid materials combining wideband electromagnetic absorption and mechanical performance, funded by a FRIA grant. After working one year as a support engineer in the field of extended finite element modeling, he came back at the UCL as a senior researcher involved in applied research projects in collaboration with industry. He is currently dealing with erosion coating on CFRP as well as thermal and electromagnetic management in electrical power converter.

Vincent Destoop, Dr, Senior scientist - Mechanics of composites and adhesive bonding
made his PhD on the adhesion of tooth-filling materials to the dentine. He’s now working on composite materials to replace metals in aircraft applications. He takes part to projects studying the mechanical behavior of composite materials (mainly polymer matrix reinforced with long fibers) which are new candidate materials for modern planes. His investigations focus on their bulk, cracking, impact and adhesion properties.

Audrey Favache, Dr, Senior scientist - Tribology: nanoindentation, nanoscratch and thin film mechanics
obtained a PhD degree in the domain of process control in 2009 at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), after having graduated there as chemical engineer in 2005. Since then, she is working as a "senior" researcher on several applied research projects in collaboration with the industry in the domain of mechanics of materials. More particularly, she is interested in the link between the mechanical properties of the individual components of a complex system and the global mechanical response of this system. She applied this approach to the framework of tribology and contact mechanics for understanding the scratch resistance of coatings and multilayered systems. Her work covers both experimental aspects and finite element simulations.

Florent Hannard, Dr, Postdoctoral researcher
graduated as a materials science engineer at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 2013. He is currently doing a PhD thesis (funded by a FRIA grant), started in September 2013 and under the joint supervision of Prof. Thomas Pardoen and Prof. Aude Simar from UCL. His research focuses on the contribution from microstructure heterogeneities on the micromechanisms of ductile damage and cracking in metallic alloys. In order to address these effects on damage accumulation, a combined experimental and a modeling strategy is developed. The experimental strategy relies on in situ tensile testing coupled to 3D microtomography, in situ laminography during sheet loading and a variety of more classical mechanical tests. A cellular automaton type modeling is used to capture particle size distribution and cluster effects on the void nucleation and coalescence processes. His project also involves the use of friction stir processing (FSP) in order to increase the ductility of industrial aluminium alloys of the 6xxx series. From an applicability viewpoint, this method has the potential to locally improve ductility of sheets at locations where forming involves large strains or of structural components at stress concentration points.

Olivier Poncelet, Dr, Senior scientist

Sophie Ryelandt, Senior scientist
graduated as a physical engineer at Université catholique de Louvain in 1991. After having worked for six years at the R&D center of the Spadel company, she came back at UCL as a senior scientist. She is involved in various applied research projects in collaboration with the industry. Her research domains are dealing with material science, metallic composites, multilayered materials and coatings, additive manufacturing of metals, nanomechanical and mechanical testing and the link between microstructure and mechanical properties.

Thaneshan Sapanathan, Dr, Chargé de recherche FNRS
completed a mechanical engineering degree and a PhD at Monash University (Australia) in 2010 and 2014, respectively. His thesis was entitled “Fabrication of axi-symmetric hybrid materials using combination of shear and pressure”. During his PhD, he worked on architectured hybrid materials fabrication using severe plastic deformation (SPD) processes. Two novel axi-symmetric SPD techniques were investigated to fabricate hybrid materials with concurrent grain refinements. After that, he started a research project at University of Technology of Compiègne (France) in which he investigated the weldability window for similar and dissimilar material combinations using numerical simulations for magnetic pulse welding. He also studied the interfacial phenomena, behavior of material under high strain rate deformation, modeling and simulation of the magnetic pulse welding/forming. Currently, he is working as a postdoctoral research fellow at UCL on the topic of characterizations of aluminium to steel welds made by friction stir welds and friction melt bonding. In particular, he will study the residual stresses and effect of intermetallic distribution on the mechanical properties of these welds.

Frederik Van Loock, Dr, Postdoctoral researcher
is a post-doctoral research associate at the Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering (IMMC) at the Université catholique de Louvain. He holds a BSc and MSc in Aerospace Engineering from the TU Delft (NL) and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Cambridge (UK), where he studied the mechanics of the solid-state nanofoaming process, the mechanical properties of polymeric nanofoams, and fracture problems in adhesive joints. His research interests are in the field of the mechanics of materials, with a special interest in the deformation and failure behaviour of polymers and polymer-based hybrid material concepts. His research at UCLouvain is focused on the development of a shear transformation zone model to predict the deformation and fracture of polymeric and metallic glasses.


Jérémy Chevalier, Dr
graduated as a material engineer at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 2014. He is currently doing a PhD thesis, started in September 2014, under the supervision of Prof. Thomas Pardoen at UCLouvain and funded by a FRIA grant. His thesis aims at characterizing and modeling carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRP) mechanical behavior at the scale of their constituents, mainly the pure matrix and the fiber-matrix interfaces. CFRP’s are widely used in structural applications where weight is a critical factor. However, the lack of generic tools to accurately predict their failure must be compensated by heavy experimental campaigns to ensure the safety of the structures, increasing their cost. Hence, the goal of his thesis is to provide a precise understanding of the deformation and failure mechanisms of CFRP’s constituents in order to serve as a basis of a bottom-up approach. ​

Pauline Delroisse, Dr
graduated as mechanical engineer at Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL - Belgium) in 2014. She is working under the supervision of Pr. Aude Simar on a PhD thesis related to additive manufacturing which is the continuity of her master thesis. The main objective of this work is to process and optimize new lightweight architectured structures using selective laser melting (SLM). These structures are made of aluminium alloy (AlSi10Mg) and characterized in terms of microstructure (influence of the process parameters, porosity,..) and mechanical properties (impact resistance, tensile and compressive behaviors). Her work is in support of the increasing interest of the aeronautical and aerospatial industries in this new manufacturing technology.

Lipeng Ding, Dr, Postdoctoral researcher
obtained his PhD degree (2017) at Chongqing University, P.P. China. His PhD work mainly addressed the precipitation hardening of Al-Mg-Si-Cu alloys by aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy (TEM). He is now working as a post-doc fellow with Profs. H. Idrissi, A. Simar, P. Jacques in IMAP, Université catholique de Louvain and Prof. Nick Schryvers in EMAT, University of Antwerp. His research mainly focuses on unraveling defects behaviour of novel metallic and metallic-based materials, such as high-entropy alloys, Ti-Mo alloys and aluminium based alloys using quantitative advanced TEM techniques such as aberration corrected TEM, orientation and nanostrain mapping in TEM and in-situ TEM nanomechanical testing.

Chunjie Huang, Dr
received a Ph. D degree in Jan. 2018 from the Lab. of ICB-Lermps of Université Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (UBFC) in France. His research interests are cold spray (CS), friction stir processing (FSP) and selective laser melting (SLM).
In June 2018, he started a post-doctoral stay in iMMC under the supervision of Prof. Aude Simar funded by an ERC Starting Grant. The topic of his research is the crack propagation of FSPed Al 7075 alloy and the healing of SLMed Al alloys.

Norberto Jimenez Mena, Dr
graduated as a mechanical engineer at the University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain, in 2013. He started his PhD thesis in September 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Aude Simar and Prof. Pascal Jacques and funded by a FRIA grant. His thesis aims at understanding and optimizing dissimilar welds of aluminium to steel by means of a novel Friction Melt Bonding (FMB) process. Currently, the transport industry lacks of reliable methods to join these two materials due to their metallurgical and physical incompatibilities. In FMB, developed and patented at the UCL, the bonding is formed by a reaction of liquid aluminium and solid steel to form a continuous intermetallic layer. The strength of the weld is mainly determined by the composition and shape of the intermetallic and the presence of solidification defects. The goal is to identify the role of the thermomechanical cycles in the intermetallic and defect formation to find an optimum that maximises the strength using finite element modelling, diffusion kinetics calculations, specific toughness testing.

Céline Vlémincq
graduated as a chemical and materials engineer at Université catholique de Louvain in 2016. She started in September 2016 a PhD thesis in collaboration with Solvay and under the joint supervision of Prof. Thomas Pardoen and Prof. Bernard Nysten from UCL and Dr. Ezio Gandin from Solvay. The subject of her PhD is about characterization and modeling of surface mechanical properties at the micro-nanometer scale for the study of polymer behavior in contact with industrial fluids. The main objective is to exploit the potential of the local characterization of mechanical properties by nanoindentation and AFM (Atomic Force Microscopy) to quantify the impact of fluids on the mechanical properties of polymer materials.