NISM Newsletter - October 2021

NISM Newsletter
Issue 6,
October 2021


By Dr. Sébastien R. Mouchet, Researcher at the Solid-State Physics laboratory (UR-LPS), representative of the non-permanent researchers of the NOP pole and member of NISM board.

Organocatalysis. Organocatalysis is certainly the word of the last few months for our institute. But not only because of the announcement of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Benjamin List and David MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”.

“Organic” because a return to office work as well as in vivo professional and personal gatherings resuming after 18 months of in silico work and social life. The lectures are now delivered back in person. It is pleasant to see people again in the offices, laboratories and corridors. After a long series of online conferences and seminars, in-person scientific meetings are now taking place. For instance, the first in-person seminar of NISM since COVID-19 outbreak was organised very recently. The NISM annual meeting 2021 is scheduled in an actual lecture hall on the 13th of December. The 2022 edition of Women and Girls in Science will be held in-person on 11th of February to promote the fair participation of women to science, which one may have noticed is lacking in our fields of research as well as in the annual announcements of the Nobel Prize awardees in Physics and Chemistry.

“Catalysis” because an institute like NISM should play the role of catalyst that fosters interaction and collaboration within the institute, with other institutes at UNamur and with external partners. Following the recent evaluation of UNamur’s 11 institutes, the Research Administration (ADRE) organised the Institutes’ Day on the 5th of October. This event was the opportunity to present every institute to the university community and to summarise the main conclusions of this survey. Many NISM members attended and nine posters were presented by our four poles. I like to think of this event as a chemical reaction that allowed us to recreate some bonds. NISM’s evaluation highlighted several directions to catalyse fruitful collaborations. I am very pleased to see the dynamism of NISM board and the representatives of the non-permanent researchers acting as organic catalysts by implementing different actions to reach that goal within NISM’s financial constraints. Watch this space!



NISM & the Day of Research Institutes in UNamur

On October 5th 2021, the Research Council organized a day dedicated to the Research Institutes of the University of Namur.

The Vice-Rector for Research, Prof. Carine Michiels, and the Presidents of the eleven institutes briefly presented the research landscape of UNamur, and the core business of each institute, respectively. Prof. Vincent LIÉGEOIS, President of NISM, highlighted the main actions that NISM developed to promote new collaborations and dynamics within members, together with the future perspectives of the institute.

The day continued with a poster session allowing young researchers to show their works to the whole university community, thus mixing all disciplines together. NISM researchers demonstrated a very enthusiastic motivation in preparing this task together, which resulted in nine posters representing the main research topics investigated in the four poles of NISM.

The Research Institute day finished with a debate on the future of the research institutes. The invited speakers were or have been all in charge of the research affairs in universities of the French Community, namely  Profs. Thomas Pardoen (former president of the Mechanics, Materials and Civil Engineering Institute of UCLouvain), Muriel Moser, former Vice-Rector for Researchof ULB, Bernard Harmegnies, President of the Research Institute for Language Science and Technology of UMons, and Germain Simons, head of DIDACTIfen research unit of ULiège. They debated around topics, such as the way each university created, organized and promoted the Research Institutes, the relationships between institutes, faculties and departments, or the funding facilities associated to the institutes. This round table clearly demonstrated that despite different structures and organizations of the research institutes in the French Community Universities, these latter agreed in settling the Institute as the key instrument and the place of life of the research activities in each institution.  

Some moments of the Day are available on the photo album.


Prof. Olivier Deparis: Senior membership of the Optical Society (OSA)

Prof. Olivier Deparis from NISM has become a Senior Member of the Optical Society.

This distinguished honorary was attributed to Prof. Deparis for his achievements in optics and photonics.

The senior membership of OSA is a recognition of Prof. Deparis professional accomplishments


A new battery by Prof. Su’s team

Prof. Bao-Lian Su, Mr. Runtian Zheng and Mr. Yang Ding in collaboration with the team of Prof. Jie Shu’s of the  Ningbo University (Zhejiang, China) and the team of Prof. Alexandru Vlad’s of UCLouvain(Belgium), have proposed a prototype of new Na-dual ion battery (DIB) based on a TiSe2 Na-ion anode and an anion-storing graphite cathode.

Brought together, the high diffusion coefficient of Na-ions and the very low Na-ion diffusion barrier lead to very fast electrode kinetics, similar to conventional surface capacitive systems. Excellent cycling stability was also reported.

The superior performance of the TiSe2-graphite Na-DIB is reached thanks to the unique combination of the two used materials (TiSe2 and graphite), which possess peculiar intrinsic physico-chemical and electrochemical properties.

The battery is highly expected to be part of the next generation of energy storage devices.

The results and more details are available in the scientific publication on the following link: .


Incentive Award for Aurélien CHARDON

Dr. Aurélien Chardon has received the Incentive Award 2021. The award is granted to excellent young scientists of less than 35 years old.

Aurélien joined NISM in 2018 as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Guillaume Berionni. His research project deals with the synthesis and reactivity study of non-planar organoboron compounds.

In 2020 he obtained a post-doctoral position, in collaboration with Dr. Raphael Robiette (UCLouvain), to work on borylated carbanions as new dipoles and Lewis pairs for small molecules activation. His work is carried out in collaboration with other laboratories of NISM, such as the Laboratory of Theorotical Chemistry (LCT) and the Laboratory of Structural Biological Chemistry (CBS).

Beyond his research work, Dr. Aurélien Chardon is also teaching and supervising master and PhD students.


Tinalta project : how to stretch the limit of dry machining

In the framework of TINALTA project, Prof. Stéphane LUCAS and Dr. Emile HAYE have developed a new hard coating for cutting tools.

The coating leads to lifetime extension of tools, by increasing considerably its hardness.

The project is funded by the Public Service of Wallonia on Win²Wal program. It is the fruit of a collaboration between ICS - Innovative Coating Solutions and LARN laboratory of NISM.

This coating solution is still under development and it is highly expected to have better performance in a near future.


 A NISM-Institut Jean Lamour collaboration: the French team in Namur

From October 18 to 22, Prof. Jean-François PIERSON and Dr. David PILLOUD from the “Institut Jean Lamour” (Nancy, France) were in UNamur. Their stay was devoted to one week of experiments, done in the framework of the Projet Hubert Curien TOURNESOL (a collaborative project between France & Belgium, funded by WBI and Campus France, respectively).

This collaborative project, supervised by Emile HAYE (NISM) and Jean-François PIERSON (Institut Jean Lamour), also involving Francesca CECCHET (NISM), aims at investigating the supercapacitive and plasmonic properties of specific coatings.

During this stay, the French team has used the facilities of the LOS and SIAM technological platforms of UNamur.



 NISM PhDs and post-docs

Pierre BEAUJEAN defended his thesis in Chemical Sciences

You certainly crossed him in NISM: Pierre BEAUJEAN is a very helpful and active PhD student, who has just received his doctoral degree in chemistry.

The subject of his thesis is "Quantum Chemistry Investigations on Nonlinear Optical Materials: from Reference to Complex Systems". It was supervised by Prof. Benoît CHAMPAGNE.

In addition to Prof. CHAMPAGNE, the jury members were: Prof. Olivier DEPARIS as president (NISM), Prof. Frédéric CASTET (Institute of Molecular Science, University of Bordeaux), Dr. Marc de WERGIFOSSE (Institut für Physikalische und Theoretische Chemie, Universität Bonn), Prof. Vincent LIÉGEOIS (NISM), Prof. Lionel SANGUINET (MOLTECH Anjou Laboratory, University of Angers - FRANCE), and Prof. Daniel P. VERCAUTEREN (NISM).

The thesis aimed at describing and understanding the nonlinear optical properties of molecules, more particularly their second and third harmonic scattering.  The goal was to provide insights and to help towards the design of new materials, in a multidisciplinary framework combining theory and experiment. Different systems have been studied, such as molecular switches and fluorescent proteins. Furthermore, the work pinpointed the importance of quantum chemistry to deduce structure-activity relationships and help the design of new and improved molecules.

Pierre will stay in NISM for an extra year as a member of the Belgian National Competence Center for HPC.


Antoine FAUROUX defended his thesis in Physical Sciences

In October 2021, Antoine FAUROUX defended his PhD thesis in phyiscal science, under the supervision of Prof. Stéphane LUCAS. The thesis was entitled "Experimental and theoretical study of a magnetron DC-PECVD acetylene discharge".

In addition to Prof. LUCAS, the jury was formed by Prof. Yoann OLIVIER of NISM, Dr. Andreas PFLUG of the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and thin films (Germany), Dr. Stefan GROSSE of Robert Bosch GmbH (Germany), and Prof. Erik NEYTS of the NANOLab Center of Excellence of the Universtity of Antwerp.

The study focused on realistic PIC-MC simulation of plasma discharge in the case of the deposition of DLC (Diamond-like Carbon) from acetylene, which was accurately compared to experimental results.

DLC films are widely used by industrials in large batch coaters to produce high performance protective coatings. It is also exploited by experimentalists to develop processes that include amorphous hydrogenated carbon as a key component in novel and exciting applications.


 Adrien NELIS defended his thesis in Physical Sciences

It is the season of PhD defence in NISM. Adrien NELIS has also obtained his PhD degree.

The thesis entitle "Study of germanium diffusion and nanoclustering in Si-based host matrices for optoelectronic applications such as third generation photovoltaic cells" was supervised by Prof. Guy TERWAGNE.

The jury members were: Prof. Robert SPORKEN (NISM) as président, Prof. Guy TERWAGNE (NISM), Prof. Denis FLANDRE (Electrical Engineering pole, UCLouvain), Dr Ian VICKRIDGE (Institute of Nanoscience of Paris, Sorbonne University), Prof. François SCHIETTEKATTE (Physics Department, University of Montréal), Prof. Olivier DEPARIS (NISM).

The work aimed at proposing solutions to precisely control the formation of germanium quantum dots (location, size, and distribution) in SiO2/Si films. The results were based on thin film characterization via the combination of several analysis techniques, such as ion beam analysis, optical spectroscopy, and electronic microscopy.


Presentation card: Loris CHAVÉE

My name is Loris Chavée. I started my PhD on October 1st at the LARN laboratory after the obtention of a FNRS research fellow grant.

My PhD is supervised by Prof. Stéphane LUCAS and Dr. Émile HAYE.

It aims at investigating the growth mechanisms of thin films deposited by magnetron sputtering on metallic foam substrates by combining experimental work and simulation.


Presentation card: Essam SERAG

My name is Essam SERAG. I obtained my M.Sc. in Nuclear Engineering in 2019 and my B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering in 2015. I am currently working on my PhD thesis at the Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions (LARN) under the supervision of Prof. Stéphane LUCAS.

The thesis title is "Coatings enabling robotic systems in liquid metal for a new generation of nuclear reactors".

The main goal is to study and investigate wear mechanisms of coatings used to protect mechanical components (e.g. shafts, bearings, ... etc.) operating inside Lead-Bismuth Eutectic which is a liquid metal alloy used as coolant in next-generation nuclear reactors. 

This project is a collaboration between the University of Namur and the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK•CEN), as a part of the mega-project "MYRRHA".


 Latest publications in NISM

  • "Density functional theory investigation of the electronic and optical properties of metallo-phthalocyanine derivatives", Zouaghi, M. O., Arfaoui, Y. & Champagne, B., Oct 2021, In: Optical Materials. 120, 111315,
  •  "Unravelling the Effects of Cholesterol on the Second-Order Nonlinear Optical Responses of Di-8-ANEPPS Dye Embedded in Phosphatidylcholine Lipid Bilayers", BOUQUIAUX, C., Castet, F. & Champagne, B., 7 Sep 2021, In: The Journal of Physical Chemistry B. 125, 36, p. 10195-10212 18 p.,
  •  "Six-membered Rings With One Phosphorus Atom", Rammal, F., Magné, V., Berionni, G. & Lakhdar, S., Aug 2021, Reference Module in Chemistry, Molecular Sciences and Chemical Engineering. p. 712,
  •  "The high activity of mesoporous Ga-SiO2 catalysts in the upgrading of glycerol to solketal explained by in-depth characterization", Vivian, A., Soumoy, L., Fusaro, L., Louette, P., Felten, A., Fiorilli, S., Debecker, D. P. & APRILE, C., Aug 2021, In: Journal of Catalysis. 400, p. 83-92 10 p.,
  •  "Link between plasma properties with morphological, structural and mechanical properties of thin Ti films deposited by high power impulse magnetron sputtering", Moskovkin, P., Maszl, C., Schierholz, R., Breilmann, W., Petersen, J., Phlug, A., Muller, J., Raza, M., Konstantinidis, S., von Keudell, A. & Lucas, S., 25 Jul 2021, In: Surface and Coatings Technology. 418, 13 p., 127235,
  • "Alginate@TiO2 hybrid microcapsules with high in vivo biocompatibility and stability for cell therapy", Leroux, G., Neumann, M., Meunier, C. F., Voisin, V., Habsch, I., Caron, N., Michiels, C., Wang, L. & Su, B. L., Jul 2021, In: Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces. 203, 111770,


 Upcoming events

Annual Meeting of NISM - 2021

The Annual Meeting of NISM members will take place on December 13th, 2021.

For the whole day, invited speakers and NISM members will present their works and share their research experience.

More information about the program are coming soon.

Current trends in membrane protein biophysics

This 3rd one-day symposium will take place on December 3rd 2021 in the CH01 auditorium (Chemistry Department, University of Namur).

For more information about the program and registration:

Contact: Prof. Catherine Michaux.


 Jobs and career



A one-year post-doctoral position in vibrational nonlinear optical spectroscopy of biological interfaces is open in NISM.

Applications should be sent to Prof. Francesca CECCHET or Prof. Catherine MICHAUX. The deadline is November 30th 2021.

For more information:




Nobel prize 2021 in Physics

The Nobel prize 2021 in Physics was awarded to with one half jointly to Syukuro Manabe (Princeton University, USA) and Klaus Hasselmann (Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Germany), and the other half to Giorgio Parisi (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy), from left to right in the front sketch. They won the prize for their works on understanding complex systems.

Manabe and Hasselmann's research led to models of the Earth's climate that can quantify and predict the global warming. Parisi found the complex rules which govern disorder and fluctuations in physical systems from atomic to planetary scales.


Nobel prize 2021 in Chemistry

The Nobel prize 2021 in Chemistry was awarded to Benjamin List (Max Planck Institute for Coal Research, Germany) and David W.C. MacMillan (Princeton University, USA) for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.

Their research conceived easier methods to make asymmetric molecules. It has been applied in pharmaceutical research to produce new drugs and in the improvement of light capture in solar cells.


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