The Center for Research on Advanced Materials (CERMA) at Laval University (UL) is dedicated to fundamental or applied studies aimed at developing a variety of materials that will benefit Quebec society. CERMA’s mandate is to advance fundamental and applied knowledge in materials science, train highly qualified personnel and participate in the Quebec innovation ecosystem. “Advanced materials” refers to any material that offers an advantage over conventional materials, whether in terms of performance, application, manufacturing or environmental impact.
CERMA is a research center recognized by the Research Commission of Université Laval and has been part of the Quebec Center for Functional Materials (CQMF) since 2010, a group supported by the Quebec Research Fund – Nature et technologie ( FQRNT).
Made up of 18 regular faculty members from UL, 93 students, 15 postdoctoral fellows and 5 research professionals and technicians, the Center brings together researchers from various backgrounds such as pharmacy, electrical engineering or chemical, materials sciences, chemistry, medicine as well as wood sciences. The presence of such diverse members from four faculties allows everyone to find the expertise they need to advance their research. In addition, the equipment owned by the center is made available to all members as well as to external users, both academic, government and industrial.
History and research themes
CERMA was born in 2008, from the evolution of the center previously called CERSIM (Center for Research in Science and Engineering of Macromolecules) which has maintained a tradition of excellence in the field of synthetic and natural polymers since 1986. The center has seen gradually its research themes widen towards more and more diversified materials. This trend continues today so that CERMA covers a wide range of materials: from biological molecules to synthetic molecules, including materials in the solid or viscoelastic state, nanomaterials and hybrid materials. The targeted applications range from energy to health, through the wood industry, electro-optics and photonics or the environment.
CERMA inherits and perpetuates a long tradition of collaboration and sharing, in particular of its impressive instrumental park, and which has been based, for 34 years, on the excellence of its members. Since its inception, CERMA has also been able to rely on governance that operates in complete collegiality. It now appears to be a mature center that has been able to renew its faculty and adapt its scientific programming to the needs of changing society.
In addition to access to state-of-the-art equipment and the expertise of each research group, students have the opportunity to present their work during the Annual Conference in the form of oral communications or scientific posters, and to attend conferences given by renowned researchers in their field. The Annual Conference is organized by the Student Committee. This is an important actor which also allows the students to participate in a “technical” event during which the members present instruments or techniques, thus opening the perspectives of the members. In 2020 the Student Committee developed activities aimed at developing related skills such as a popular article competition or a competition for short videos on members’ research projects.
CERMA is recognized for collaborating with companies in their R&D work. In addition to providing access to its instrumental park, CERMA makes the expertise of its members available to Quebec SMEs. They are also very active and in most cases have partnerships with companies for collaborative work. CERMA thus contributes to the development and economic vitality of the region and to the resilience of its innovation ecosystem. This mandate was recently bolstered by a grant from the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec aimed at supporting strategic technological platforms.
In this context, CERMA works closely with Prima Quebec, the research and innovation center for advanced materials. This partnership gave rise to several exchanges and the organization of a networking activity entitled “good point of reference”. Since CERMA has strategic orientations that integrate sustainable development, it also collaborates with the Interdisciplinary Center for Research in Operationalization of Sustainable Development (CIRODD) in the context of activities related to sustainable innovation.
CERMA members publish an average of 120 articles in peer-reviewed periodicals and accumulate nearly $ 4.5 million in funding annually, nearly half of which involves partnerships or contracts with industry. They also total three research chairs and five infrastructure grants from the Canada Fund for Innovation (CFI).