The message from the director

Nanoscience brings together a wide range of research on systems having one or more dimension that is approximately one billionth of a meter (a nanometer). At the nanoscale, material properties can change substantially from those prevalent at the macroscale; in particular, material properties that depend solely on composition and crystal structure at the macroscale can depend sensitively on size and shape at the nanoscale. This opens up many exciting avenues for  fundamental and applied scientific research. As nanoscience is at confluence of many disciplines (physics, chemistry, materials science, biology, medicine…) it naturally invokes passionate interest from scientific experts and the wider society.

The history of the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Centre of Marseille (CINaM, UMR 7325) is a perfect illustration of how classically separate scientific disciplines have adapted to the study of nanoscale phenomena. Indeed, the formal creation of CINaM in 2008 came from the successive mergers of several research units, broadening the initial individual research themes of crystal growth, surface physics, condensed matter physics and molecular chemistry to the multidisciplinary subject of nanoscience. These mergers were driven by the conviction that a strong synergy between physicists and chemists is essential to conduct high level scientific study of nanomaterials and their properties.

Research conducted at CINaM is necessarily multi-scale in order to investigate phenomena ranging from  extremely fast optical excitations of nanoscale atomic clusters to the atomic processes driving extremely slow structural transformations of mesoscale man made or natural materials. CINaM is known for research on the design, development and study of nano-objects or nano-structured materials and surfaces, as well as the study of phenomena confined to the nanoscale. In recent years research at the border of physics, chemistry and life sciences has seen significant growth, permitting the development of activities in nanomedicine.

The activities of the laboratory are divided equally between experiment (using innovative techniques to fully exploit modern scientific instruments) and theory (using innovative theoretical and algorithmic approaches to fully exploit modern supercomputers). The focus is both on fundamental aspects (primarily study of mechanisms) and applications in various fields ( biomineralogy , structural and functional materials, nanomedicine ...). The CINaM teams are therefore strongly involved in the major societal challenges affected by nanotechnology, energy, health and the environment.

The highly multidisciplinary research of CINaM is carried out by 160 researchers, teaching researchers, engineers, technicians, administrators, doctoral students and students in five departments. The prominent role of CINaM in the wider scientific community is perfectly illustrated by numerous international collaborations with more than 30 countries and involvement in two International Mixed Units (UMI).

CINaM is located on the Luminy campus in the heart of the  Calanques national park. A central building of raw concrete hosts most of our physicists and some notable experimental facilities, in particular those concerning electron microscopy, microscopy and near-field growth.  A second building houses, on four levels, most of our chemists in premises completely renovated in 2018 and benefiting from fully equipped chemistry laboratories . Finally, a third building hosts the technological platform for micro and nanofabrication for the centre (PLANETE).

The supervisory bodies of the laboratory are Aix Marseille University (AMU) and the CNRS (main branch INP, secondary attachment INC).

Organization chart

The CINaM central building designed in 1974 by architect firm Charon, Delage, Guéroult and Rubin, under the watchful eye of Raymond Kern, shows an innovative architecture in banché concrete. Its construction was completed in 1979.
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Two CINaM departments are housed in a newly renovated University building.
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A technological platform, associated with the laboratory, was inaugurated in 2009
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Left: Transmission electron microscope. Right: STM-low temperature
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A campus in the heart of the exceptional site of Calanques. Offshore, the island of Riou. Photograph taken from Col de la Candelle an hour walk from the laboratory.