Michel Poulain, ISCR former engineer, passed away

Michel Poulain is a chemist world famous for his discoveries, especially that of the fluoride glass
Michel Poulain, ISCR former engineer, passed away

It is with great sadness that we learned about the death of Michel Poulain on April 22, 2021 at 85 years old.

Michel Poulain joined the D Mineral Chemistry laboratory in October 1966 as an engineer.

Electronic technician, he had to take care of equipment maintenance. Later, He became an operator in crystal diffractometry. At the same time, he learned about solid-state chemistry. He discovered a new structural type (SmZrF7) and carried on his research for new materials based on zirconium fluoride. It was in this context that he accidentally obtained the first fluorozirconate glasses.

Michel is world famous for his discovery of fluoride Glasses in 1974. It made him one of the most famous chemists at the University of Rennes. This discovery had a major impact on the scientific glass community. It led to considerable work and investment in the 80s and 90s, becoming a "fashionable" subject. This discovery conduced to several awards such as the G. W. Morey Award from the American Ceramic Society or the Philip Moris Award, and by the way, an article in the New York Times and Time Magazine. More recently, in 2018, he received the ISNOG Quebec special prize. He was greatly appreciated by our North American and Chinese colleagues.

Until his retirement in 2000, he explored hundreds of glassy diagrams and thousands of glassy compositions. He directly supervised tens of PhD students, some of whom have experienced great professional success.

In addition to the creation of the company "Le Verre Fluoré", the impact of his work is exceptional:

  • In astronomy, the coupling of telescopes by optical fibers (Chile and Hawaii)
  • A probe for the Exomars mission
  • Soon, fibers on the moon
  • Laser fibers for medical applications
  • New lasers, in particular supercontinuous sources
  • Innovative sensors based on infrared technologies
  • Fiber optic manufacturing programs in the International Space Station (ISS), with American companies formed for this purpose. It should be mentioned in passing that fluoride glass preforms will be stretched in the ISS this summer, and that perhaps Thomas Pesquet will get his hands on them
  • and much more in the medical and food industries…

He is remembered as a man of humor and subtlety who was always ready to help people and support science.

The ceremony takes place this Tuesday April 27, 2021 at the church of Servon / Vilaine.

The Rennes Institute of Chemical Sciences (ISCR) associates itself with the grief of his family and offers its condolences to his brother Marcel Poulain, now professor emeritus in the Glass and Ceramics team.

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Published April 27, 2021