PhD Students

Chih-Cheng Chang
is from Taiwan. He is a Ph.D. student at UCLouvain but working at SCK-CEN.
He is currently working on mechanical properties testing of irradiated miniaturized samples.

Maïté Croonenborghs
graduated as a materials science engineer at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) and at Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble (France) in 2017. Currently, she is doing a Ph.D. thesis under the supervision of Prof. Pascal Jacques and Prof. Thomas Pardoen. Her research takes place in the context of implants' failure. This aims at understanding the effect of surface defects on the failure mode in biomedical structures. Different materials are investigated among 316L, commercially pure titanium, titanium alloys, TWIP steels, ... Some controlled defects are introduced at the surface, such as grooves, indents, or holes. Their effects are investigated by torsion, bending, and uniaxial tensile tests as well as fatigue tests.

Sophie De Raedemacker
graduated as a chemical and materials science engineer at Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium in 2022. Now she is working on a PhD thesis under the supervision of Prof. A. Simar. Her thesis aims at developing a high strength healable aluminium alloy produced by additive manufacturing. The healing treatment is applied through hot isostatic pressing (HIP) allowing to close and seal porosities and cracks. The project includes development of the new composition and optimization of the printing parameters. The healing process will be studied as well as the mechanical properties before and after the healing treatment.

Mathieu Delcroix
graduated in physical engineering at UCLouvain in 2021. He started a PhD in september 2021 under the supervision of Pr. Pascal Jacques. His research concerns thermoelectric generators based on the Heusler compounds Fe2VAl. The aim of his thesis is to developt and characterise a transverse thermoelectric generator build by additive manufacturing.

Sarah Dethier
graduated as a chemical and materials science engineer at Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 2022. In September 2022, she started a PhD thesis under the supervision of Prof. Pascal Jacques. Her research focuses on the understanding of the defect tolerance of beta metastable titanium alloys, more specifically the Ti12Mo. The aim of her thesis is to understand the fracture mechanism of such alloys in presence of defects such as porosities. Several charcteristics of porosities will be studied (amount, size, interdistance, ...) to explain the defect tolerance of the Ti12Mo and determine its limitation.

Thibaut Heremans
graduated as a chemical and materials engineer at UCLouvain (Belgium) in 2020 with focus on materials mechanics. His current PhD thesis is carried out under the supervision of Prof. Jacques and Prof Pardoen and deals with third generation steels which offer levels of strength and formability never reached before. The project finds applications in the automotive industry and is carried out in collaboration with the steel manufacturer ArcellorMittal. The question the thesis is trying to answer concerns an unexpected shift in fracture mechanism of these steels. The experimental work involves material characterization, heat treatments and a wide range of mechanical tests. The main objective is to determine which microstructural and micromechanical parameters influence the fracture mechanism competition.

Mohamed Krid

Sanjay Channappa Krishnamurthy
Sanjay Channappa Krishnamurthy graduated as mechanical and aeronautical engineer under TFM-ASA Master Program (consortium with UCLouvain) in 2021. He is currently carrying out his PhD research thesis on joining Aluminium and Titanium dissimilar metals using Friction melt bonding process under the supervision of Prof. Aude Simar. His research is focused on process optimization as well as their microstructure and mechanical characterization at various scales. The corrosion behavior of the welds will also be analyzed.

Meng Li
has completed his master degree at China University of Petroleum-Beijing (P.R.China, 2017). He is currently performing a PhD thesis at the Belgian nuclear research center SCK·CEN under the academic supervision of Prof. Thomas Pardoen at UCLouvain. His project deals with the miniaturization of fracture toughness specimen for the characterization of the cracking resistance RPV materials. Indeed, in the nuclear field, the use of mechanics tests to measure fracture toughness of react pressure vessel (RPV) materials, is key for producing reliable integrity assessments and accurate residual life predictions. However, the space available inside irradiation facilities is extreme. Furthermore, the use of normal size specimens leads to significant of radioctive wastes. Miniature Compact Tension specimen, MC(T), as one of the geometries that offers significant advantages, can optimize the use of available material and generate meaningful fracture toughness values. But these specimens still do not comply with existing requirements due to (i) effect of geometry, (ii) effect of side grooving, (iii) effect of loss of constraint, etc. Therefore, in his research project, detailed numerical analysis combined with miniaturization tests are used. The final aim is to better qualify and validate the use of mini-CT geometry in both brittle and ductile fracture regimes.

Nicolas Nothomb
graduated as chemical and materials science engineer at UCLouvain (Belgium) in 2020, with a specific focus on metallic materials. Nicolas Nothomb started a PhD thesis in September 2020 under the supervision of Pr. Aude Simar and in strong collaboration with Pr. Brecht Van Hooreweder of KULeuven. His research focuses on the improvement of fatigue life of high performance aluminium alloys produced by selective laser melting. This 3D printing processing technique is of huge interest in aerospace industry but the poor fatigue life of parts produced remains a hurdle to overcome before they could be practically used. As a result, his works consists in identifying adequate process parameters and using various post-treatments to produce Al 7xxx pieces with desirable static and fatigue mechanical properties while unravelling the microstructural mechanisms linked to them.

Alex Pip
graduated as a chemical and materials engineer at UCLouvain in 2020 and started a PhD the same year, under the supervision of prof. Idrissi and prof. Raskin. His PhD work is focusing on the development and the use of modern Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) for in-situ thermo-nanomechanical testing. These devices will be used to unravel the small scale elementary plasticity/failure mechanisms in minerals.

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.

Hanna Yang
graduated from Yonsei University (South Korea) in 2022, she started a PhD in October 2022 under the supervision of Prof. Pascal Jacques funded by a F.R.S.-FNRS grant.
Her PhD work deals with the alloy design and assessment of the positive effect of hydrogen as an alloying element in austenitic steels.
Hydrogen is commonly known to cause a deterioration of the mechanical properties of Fe-based alloys. In an original way, her project wants to consider hydrogen as an alloying element that brings improvements of the mechanical properties when used correctly.

Senior scientists / postdoctoral researchers

Laurine Choisez, Dr, Senior Scientist
is studying the damage mechanisms, the toughness and the strain-hardening of a beta-metastable family of titanium alloys. TRIP (TRansformation Induced Plasticity) and TWIP (TWinning induced plasticity) effects are simultaneously activated in these alloys, inducing an outstanding work hardening rate. Her research is focusing on the synergy between the prevailing plasticity mechanisms and the ductility of the alloys, the term ductility encompassing here damage resistance and toughness. The post-necking deformation properties and the associated plasticity mechanisms are examined. This thesis aims to characterize and optimize the microstructure evolution, strain-hardening, damage resistance and toughness of a beta-metastable family of titanium alloys.

Marion Coffigniez, Dr, Postdoctoral researcher
Marion Coffigniez defended her PhD on additive manufacturing of 3D architectured metallic biomaterials by robocasting in January 2021. This project was conducted at MATEIS Laboratory (Lyon, France) under the supervision of Dr. Xavier Boulnat and Prof. Laurent Gremillard. Now she has joined the group of Prof. Pascal Jacques to work on additive manufacturing of beta metastable titanium alloys presenting both TRIP and TWIP effects. One of the objectives is to develop an alloy design approach to minimise the formation of the omega phase during the SLM process, while maintaining the TRIP and TWIP effects. Another important point is to provide a better understanding of the phenomena that cause the high damage resistance of these alloys, which makes them particularly suitable for additive manufacturing.

Marie-Stéphane Colla, Dr, Senior scientist - Fracture of steels
graduated in chemical and materials science engineering at the Université catholique de Louvain in 2009 (Belgium). Then, under the supervision of Prof. Thomas Pardoen (iMMC) and Prof. Jean-Pierre Raskin (ICTEAM), she accomplished a PhD on the study of the mechanical properties of thin films, more specifically on the plasticity and creep of freestanding nanocrystalline Pd films. The lab-on-chip technique developed previously at the UCLouvain was adapted to deform Pd thin films. After the PhD, she worked for more than two years at the CRM Group in Liège on the development of industrially viable thin film solar cells on steel. Since June 2016, she is back at the UCLouvain as a research engineer involved in projects dealing with the understanding of fracture behaviour of high strength steels under a wide range of strain rates.​

Romain Gautier, Dr, Postdoctoral researcher
defended his PhD on the study of plastic grain boundary mechanisms on polycrystals by TEM and AFM measurements in January 2022. This thesis was conducted in collaboration between Pprime Institute, with Christophe Coupeau, and the CEMES, with Marc Legros. In the team of Prof. Pascal Jacques, he is currently working in collaboration with the CRM to study dislocation density within martensitic steel. In order to design new materials, dislocation density needs to be probed and the TEM is the perfect tool for that. However, it lacks easiness to prepare samples and field of view to have a statistical value. Alternatively, models have been developed to access the dislocation density through the measure of the peak broadening of diffractogram obtained by XRD. Part of his project is to validate these models by comparing their result to the one that he will obtained by TEM.

Florent Hannard, Dr, Chargé de recherche FNRS
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 UCLouvain. 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.

Antoine Hilhorst, Dr
Antoine Hilhorst graduated as a materials science engineer at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 2017. In 2022, he completed his PhD thesis under the supervision of Pr. Pascal J. Jacques. The subject of his thesis was the fracture toughness of high entropy alloys (HEAs). HEAs are derived from a new alloy design philosophy where, contrary to conventional alloys, there is no principal element with minor alloying additions but multiple principal elements in high concentration. Besides the metallurgical interest of investigating this large composition range never explored before, HEAs have picked the interest of scientists and industries alike due to their exceptional properties such as corrosion and irradiation resistance, high strength and good ductility, and impressive fracture toughness. Moreover, mechanical properties improve with decreasing temperature, including fracture toughness, which is a rare behavior in metallic alloys. His research goals are the characterization of the fracture toughness of CrMnFeCoNi-based HEAs at room and cryogenic temperature as well as the understanding of the mechanisms responsible for the observed properties. The originality of his work is the use of the essential work of fracture method to measure the plane stress fracture toughness as well as the use of diffusion multiples as a design tool for novel Cantor-based HEAs.
He is now a researcher in IMAP currently working on alloy design for 3D printing for applications in extreme environment (temperature, corrosion, wear).

Matthieu Baudouin Lezaack, Dr
Graduated as a mechanical science engineer at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 2017, he started a PhD thesis under the supervision of professor Aude Simar. The title of the PhD thesis is "Fracture of 7xxx aluminium alloys with tailored friction stir processed microstructures". After the PhD, he continued the investigations on aluminium alloys via new processing condition in the WAALU project.

Valentin Marchal-Marchant, Dr, Senior scientist - Thermoelectric Materials Development
He obtained his degree in engineering in materials science from the Université catholique de Louvain in 2011. Then, he accomplished his PhD under the supervision of prof. Pascal Jacques, on the study of Physical Vapor Deposition of thick copper films on steel (2016).

His research then focused on the development of innovative thermoelectric modules that utilize non-toxic and commonly available materials to generate electrical power from thermal gradients. Such a technology has the potential to recover waste heat in industrial context. The aim of this project is to develop and manufacture heat harvesting technologies utilizing thermoelectric properties of Fe2VAl-based alloys. These new products will improve the energy competitiveness of both small and large industrial players, as well as reduce their environmental impact. Recent research into thermoelectric materials conducted by IMAP over the course of 15 years has focused on large-scale applications, and this project provides an excellent opportunity for the re-industrialization of the Walloon Region.

Besides the thermoelectric project, Valentin is in charge of the CRYOSTRESS project since the end of 2021, in collaboration with APERAM and CRM Group. It aims at developing a unique mechanical testing platform at cryogenic temperature. The platform will enable the characterization of stainless steel grades to extract plasticity, fracture, and fatigue properties. By relating those results with physico-chemical properties of the tested materials, it will be possible to bring understanding and modelling to industry.

On a more general perspective, Valentin is part of the "Materials for energy" team of prof. Pascal Jacques. The team's objective is to carry out research and development about innovative sustainable materials showing maximized performance while considering only the most environmentally neutral elements. This includes research in the fields of metallurgy, physics, mechanics, electro-chemistry and life cycle assessment.

Geoffrey Roy, Dr, Senior scientist
holds a Master in Mechatronic Engineering (2010) and a PhD in Engineering (2015) from the Université catholique de Louvain where he works as a senior researcher at the Institute of Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering (iMMC).
Within the Division of Materials and Process Engineering (IMAP), his research is focused on the development of new thermoelectric materials and systems for a range of applications going from industrial waste heat recovery to autonomous powering of smart sensors. In his research, he pays particular attention to the development of new solutions that present improved both technical and economical profiles in order to facilitate the emergence of these solutions out of the lab.
This research is followed by several companies such as: Drever International, AGC Glass Europe, Carmeuse or Engie.

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 UCLouvain 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.

Camille van der Rest, Dr, Senior scientist
completed her PhD thesis on the optimisation of Heusler Fe2VAl-based thermoelectric compounds through innovative metallurgical processing in 2015. It was under the joint supervision of Prof. Pascal Jacques and Prof. Aude Simar. Her research topics now concern additive manufacturing, friction stir processing and thermoelectric materials.
Concerning additive manufacturing, the main contributions are on the characterisation and optimisation of the microstructures and the mechanical behaviour of Al parts obtained by Laser Powder Bed Fusion and the developpment of new materials for additive manufacturing. The link between the process parameters and the final microstructure/properties is a key issue. The optimisation of the post-treatments, both thermal treatments and Friction Stir Processing (FSP), is another of her research topics in order to reach improved mechanical properties. Finally, multi-material additive manufacturing is also studied, in order to understand the influence of both metallic alloys and their interactions (diffusion, reaction,...) on the final microstructures and properties.
On another hand, Camille developed, together with Prof. Aude Simar and Prof. Pascal Jacques, a novel Friction Melt Bonding (FMB) process in order to weld aluminium alloys and steels. This process is still under development thanks to the collaboration with other researchers of IMAP.
Concerning thermoelectrics, the main objective is the development of low-cost, non-toxic, and powerful materials that could be used in large-scale industrial applications of heat recovery. In addition, she studies some fundamental aspects in order to improve the performances of such materials, i.e. ordering phenomena in off-stoichiometric Fe2VAl-based Heusler compounds. It is essential to make the link between (innovative) manufacturing processes, microstructures and the functional properties of these TE materials.