Research

The most publicized part of chemical research today concerns energy production and storage, development of biomass and CO2 or the design of new tools for health and the environment. However, a strong exploratory activity ensures the discovery of concepts and fields likely to supply the applications of the future.

Actualités des laboratoires de l'INC

Nouvelles publications scientifiques, créations de laboratoires, annonces de prix, brevets... Retrouvez des informations issues des laboratoires de l'Institut de chimie, complémentaires des communiqués de presse.

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Energy, materials, environment, health: the challenges of chemistry

In the fields of energy, materials, environment and health, the CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) promotes the advancement of research in all its aspects, at the interface of all disciplines.

From basic research to industrial processes

The work of the CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) laboratories is the link between modelling and the synthesis of compounds, fundamental research and industrial processes, the atom and materials. The results have a direct impact on society and are the subject of concrete applications in many sectors: transport, construction, electronics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics etc. The INC also supports preliminary research that brings out new subjects and break-through discoveries.

Responding to social issues

Renewable energies

Chemistry laboratories think about concepts and technologies that will allow both the production and storage of renewable energies: photovoltaic and solar cells, batteries and supercapacitors, hydrogen as a new fuel, biomass development etc.

Materials and electronics

Chemistry is involved in the development of nanomaterials and their transformation into components for microelectronics, with the aim of optimizing production and limiting waste. Particularly, the CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) has made advances in research into conductive polymers and flexible electronic devices.

Eco-responsible processes

The INC contributes to the development of virtuous and ecological chemical cycles by "green chemistry," low-impact processes, bio-inspired chemistry, waste management and life cycles or micro-fluidic systems.

Health

Therapeutic chemistry contributes to the development of novel treatments, for cancer or Alzheimer's disease, for example by MRI contrast agents. Also, materials for implants and grafts are being improved.

An interdisciplinary approach

The CNRS created a Mission for interdisciplinary (MI) whose role is to reinforce links and cooperation between disciplines. This approach encourages the emergence of new concepts and methodologies between chemistry and principally biology, physics, ecology, engineering, social sciences etc. Chemists manipulate matter, and therefore work naturally with all these disciplines.

High level research

The staff of the CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) laboratories are the ambassadors of French chemistry of which they enhance the prestige on an international level. Their proposals for projects and publications are evaluated daily by their peers to the highest level.

 

The percentage of publications from chemistry laboratories linked to the CNRS and their impact in French scientific production in the field of sciences of matter and life sciences counts for 80 %.
Jacques Maddaluno, INC Director

Researchers who are recognized internationally

Researchers of INC laboratories are regularly distinguished by major awards in both basic and applied research.

Four Nobel Prizes in Chemistry (since 1987)

  • Jean-Marie Lehn (1987)
  • Yves Chauvin (2005)
  • Martin Karplus (2013)
  • Jean-Pierre Sauvage (2016)

Innovation: some awards

  • Gilles Gosselin (European Researcher Award 2012)
  • Cathy Vix (2016 CNRS Innovation Medal)
  • Jean-Marie Tarrascon (CNRS iInnovation Medal and Samson Award  2017)

 (source: DASTRE – CNRS 2014-2015)

Shared skills and equipment

The different scientific communities can share their knowledge, skills and equipment through networks and research infrastructures. The CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) steers these tools or contributes to them on both national and international levels.

RS2E

In 2011 the INC rolled out the RS2E research network that is dedicated to electrochemical energy storage technologies: rechargeable batteries, supercapacitors etc. In this it was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. The RS2E network currently includes 17 INC research units, 15 industrial partners and 3 public institutions (including the CEA).

Increase

The Increase network with the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region was launched in May 2016. It is dedicated to green chemistry: eco-design, renewable resources, etc. It brings together nearly 200 researchers from 8 research laboratories as well as people from the chemical industry.

FedPV

FedPV, the federation on photovoltaics brings together 5 laboratories. Its objective is to coordinate R&D activity in France on photovoltaic energy.

The national chemical library

The national chemical library was created in 2003, at the initiative of the INC. It offers a collection of 45,000 samples of natural or synthetic original products from the laboratories of approximately 60 French public research institutions. These samples are made available to public or private scientific groups who wish to assess novel molecules in specific biological tests.

Exceptional research infrastructures

The CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) represents the CNRS within very large research infrastructures (TGIR) and steers certain research infrastructures (IR). These are equipped with exceptional equipment that is generally expensive and needs sophisticated scientific and technical skills. These infrastructures benefit different scientific communities.

Four national networks of analysis and characterization tools

The CNRS has created four research infrastructures in analytical techniques. They are steered by the organization via the INC in conjunction with its academic partners. This provides these networks, whose sites are spread over the whole country, with a national consistency and visibility.

Very high field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR – THC)

This research infrastructure is made up of very high field NMR spectrometers located in seven laboratories. This is at the origin of the first 1 GHz spectrometer in Europe – still the most powerful in the world – and is currently piloting the installation of a 1.2 GHz spectrometer expected for 2020 in Lille. The latter will enable the IR to retain its place at the forefront of the world. This IR contributes strongly to advances in research in health and the environment, but also information and nanotechnologies. It is involved in partnerships with competitiveness clusters such as the Elastopole, Cosmetic Valley and Maud, as well as with Carnot institutes and industrial firms (Michelin, Alcan, Cephalon etc.).

National Network of Interdisciplinary Electronic Paramagnetic Resonance (Renard)

This research infrastructure is based on a technique related to NMR. It networks the advanced electronic paramagnetic resonance equipment (imaging, pulsed EPR, etc.) of French laboratories and the expert teams in this technique to accommodate users. The research carried out within the IR allows the study of complex systems (materials, environments, biomolecular systems, rocks and natural environments etc.) in the fields of energy, environment, life, health, ICTs, but also cultural heritage. The IR platforms demonstrate academic openness, but have also forged links with industrial companies such as Total, Hutchinson, Sanofi, l’Oréal. They also maintain collaborative projects with the Cnes and IRSN.

National FT-ICR Very High Field Mass Spectrometry Network (FT-ICR)

The high magnetic fields generated by the available instruments allow users to measure molecular masses at extremely high resolution. Due to this IR, users can study complex mixtures, for example in the fields of fuel, environment metabolomics or molecular imaging. But in addition they can study rare or unique samples, such as cultural heritage materials. The IR sites have established industrial collaborations with companies such as Total, EDF, Véolia, Sanofi, etc. Furthermore, the IR is involved in regional projects such as the Verbilor project (Energy development in a high-temperature biomass reactor in Lorraine) in Metz or the iInstitute of energy transition IfmasFMAS (French Institute of agro-sourced materials) in Lille. Two IR sites are at the origin of the creation of a European network of mass spectrometry platforms modelled on the French system and steered by France.

ChemBioFrance, for the discovery of bioactive molecules

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The ChemBioFrance research infrastructure offers modern technologies for the discovery of biologically active molecules to understand the living, cure rare or emerging pathologies, target resistance phenomena and address the question of the quality of life throughout one's existence.

ChemBioFrance relies on four structures to support its services: 

  • The national chemical library, a set of more than 70,000 molecules and 15,000 natural extracts, constituted by public laboratories and certified iso 9001 for the "made to measure" management and distribution of molecules to the users.
     
  • A chemoinformatics network distributed on 6 sites (Strasbourg, Nice, Marseille, Montpellier, Orléans, Paris), spécialized in i) modelling of chemical molecules and their physical and biological properties, and ii) virtual screening.
  • A network of screening platforms (Strasbourg, Roscoff, Paris, Grenoble, Marseille, Montpellier, Lille) all labelled and capable of covering the set of technologies used in the discovery of bioactive molecules.
  • A network of ADME toxicology platforms (Strasbourg, Lille, Saclay) that carries out studies of absorption, distribution, metabolism/elimination and toxicology of new molecules.

 This set of resources is accessible to researchers in the public and private sectors as either services or collaborations.

The chemists' communities are also major users of the platforms of the network of electronic microscopy and atomic probing (Metsa), steered by the CNRS Institute of Physics, and of the accelerator network for studies of materials under irradiation (Emir) steered by the CNRS National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3).

These research infrastructures are closely linked. They provide a continuum of high performance characterisation techniques that are very complimentary to users from a variety of scientific communities: biologists, physicists, chemists, researchers in sciences of the environment, etc.

Open science at CNRS

The international movement for open science, initiated more than 30 years ago, has been growing at an unprecedented rate since the web made it possible on a global scale with reasonable costs. The dissemination of scientific production on the Internet, its identification and its archiving remove the barriers of sustainable access without questioning the protection of personal data, nor the protection of intellectual property. It is about being "open as much as possible, closed as much as necessary". Open science does not only promote a cross-cutting approach to sharing science results. By opening up data, processes, codes, methods or protocols, it also offers a new way of doing science.

The implementation of the CNRS roadmap for open science aims to accelerate the process towards open science through concrete action.

CNRS ethics committee

The CNRS ethics committee (COMETS) is an advisory and independent body whose opinions are public.

The COMETS was created in 1994. It works alongside the CNRS Board of Directors and deals with issues that are referred to the Board of Directors, the Scientific Council or the Director of the CNRS. It also has the possibility of self-referral. Its independence allows it to freely address the ethical scope of major issues involving research.

Missions of the COMETS

The COMETS engages in think-tanks of general ethical questions raised by the practice of research and related to: 1. the social and moral consequences of the development of science and its practical applications, 2. the principles that govern the individual behaviour of researchers and the functioning of the CNRS authoritative bodies, 3. the actual practice of science.

As a result of these thought processes, it is up to the COMETS to formulate recommendations for the definition, justification and application of rules relating to the ethics and deontology of research. The COMETS draws the attention of research and management personnel to the ethical and societal dimensions of any research through its advice and the training actions it conducts or in which it participates. In this way, it aims to clarify the exercise of freedom of research with respect to the duties and responsibilities that these personnel have vis-à-vis the CNRS and more generally society.

COMETS is a body for reflection; it is neither an operational ethics committee responsible for giving accreditation to projects, nor a deontological body dealing with violations of the procedures of scientific integrity. It does not rule on individual cases, whether these be scientific projects or a researcher's violation of ethics.

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