General description

The research laboratory "Group of Physics of Materials (GPM)" is a Joint Research Unit (UMR 6634) associated to University of Rouen Normandie, INSA of Rouen Normandie (both members of the federation of Normandy University) and affiliated to the French National Research Center (CNRS) as a member of the Institute of Physics (INP) and also of the Institute of Engineering and Systems Sciences (INSIS).

The laboratory has developed a strong expertise in scientific instrumentation and in material characterization down to the atomic scale, with a special emphasis on the connection between nanoscaled structures and properties.

The laboratory (covering a surface area of about 7000 m2) is located in the premises of the University of Rouen Normandie (6500 m2) and the INSA of Rouen Normandie (500 m2), on the science campus of the “technopole du Madrillet” (situated in the south of Rouen city).

The laboratory, headed by Xavier Sauvage, Research director at CNRS, has 170 staff (62 professors, assistant professors and full time scientists; 30 application engineers, technicians and administrators; about 60 PhD students, about 15 post-docs and guest researchers).

The microscopy and characterization facilities available at GPM lab cover a full range of length scales and properties, it includes: Atom Probe Tomography (APT), High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HR-TEM), Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM), Focused Ion beam (FIB), NanoSIMS 50, IR Spectroscopy, UV-Vis-PIR, Raman, Photoluminescence Spectroscopy, Mössbauer Spectrometry, SQUID, VSM, X-ray Diffraction, DSC, Flash DSC, Wideband dielectric spectroscopy, mechanical tests in anisothermal and multiaxial conditions, nanoindentation, in situ picoindentation. Experimental data collected with these facilities are connected to models developed at different length scales: Kinetic Monte Carlo, Phase Field, Crystalline Phase Field, Finite Elements, constitutive laws. Besides, many research projects are carried out in strong partnership with other academic laboratories or industrial R&D centers.


The laboratory is organized in five Scientific Departments with an expertise internationally recognized in the following areas:


  • Scientific Instrumentation: the atom under intense field and radiation

Since its creation (1967), the laboratory has been developing Atom Probe Tomography (APT), one of the few techniques able to provide three dimensional quantitative analyses at the atomic scale of materials, including metallic alloys, semiconductors, oxides, and ceramics. The research in this department is especially dedicated to:

  1. Instrumental development of Atom Probe Tomography
  2. Research on data processing and about the underlying fundamental phenomenon (matter under high electric field and/or short laser pulses)
  3. Breakthrough concepts for the development of new technologies for the analysis of materials at the ultimate scale.

This work is partly carried out in collaboration with CAMECA company, which markets commercial instruments.

  • Metallurgy: Aging and Mechanics: from atom to structure.

This department leads cutting edge research in Physical Metallurgy. Thanks to the combination of up-to-date multiscale characterization techniques, research projects are carried out on metallic alloys at all length scales, from thermomechanical tests down to atomic scale imaging.

This experimental multi-scale work is supported by numerical approaches adapted to different scales. Four research teams are working on the understanding and optimization of the performances and of the aging behavior of present and future structural materials. It covers more specially the fields of energy production and materials for the automotive industry. Innovative processes such as additive manufacturing and surface treatment by ion implantation are also addressed. Specific research projects are dedicated to the fundamentals of phase transformations in metallic alloys (ERAFEN team), materials under extreme conditions (ERMEN), surfaces of materials affected by environmental conditions (CEVIMAT team) and mechanics of materials (ERMECA team). A significant part of this research is carried out in close collaboration with industrial partners (for example GPM has established joint Labs with EDF and Manoir Industries).

  • Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies: from atom to function.

In the age of Nanotechnologies, the study of materials at the ultimate scale is an important challenge for the development of new concepts or components as well as for the understanding of their physical properties or functional properties (electrical, magnetic, optical, etc.). In this vast field of research and development, the department is specialized in the study of materials for nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, photonics (photovoltaics) and magnetism. Projects are carried out in three research teams: microelectronics and photonics materials (ER2MP), magnetic materials (ERMMA) and electrical component reliability and failure (ERDEFI). Atomic scale characterization is combined with modeling and connected to functional properties for a better understanding of fundamental phenomena and the development of optimized components and materials.

  • Disordered systems and polymers: from macromolecule to polymers.

In this department, research project are focused on the investigation of molecular dynamics in the vicinity of glass transition. A special emphasis is given on molecular relaxations that occur in complex systems such as materials with a macromolecular structure involving at least one disordered phase or a vitreous state. It is the out-of-balance thermodynamic nature of this disordered phase that will lead to relaxation phenomena involving large-scale, delocalized and cooperative molecular movements in the material. The research is carried out in order to establish the physical laws that describe relaxation kinetics in relation to the structures of the materials or the stresses they have to sustain during applications.


  • Nanoparticles, Characterization and Environment.

In this department, an wide interdisciplinary approach is carried out, involving physicists, doctors, toxicologists and biologists, to address fundamental questions raised by the French health and environmental authorities concerning i) the emissive potential of products containing nanoparticles, ii) the detection and characterization of nanoparticles in biological fluids, and iii) the ecotoxicological impact of nanoparticles. We aim at proposing the implementation of new strategies to study the environmental impacts of nanoparticles. A special emphasis is given on the impact on the skin (nanoparticles integrated into cosmetics) and on the breathing system (nanoparticles emission in the air). This work experimental work is carried out thanks to up-to-date facilities available at GPM, such as NanoSIMS nano-analysis and Transmission Electron Microscopy.