MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Design and Properties of Hybrid Organic–Inorganic Nanocomposites for Photonics

Clément Sanchez and Bénédicte Lebeau

The possibility of combining the properties of organic and inorganic components in a unique composite material is an old challenge that dates to the beginning of the industrial era. Some of the earliest and most well-known organic–inorganic representatives are derived from the paint and polymer industries, where inorganic pigments or fillers are dispersed in organic components such as solvents, surfactants, and polymers to yield or improve optical and mechanical properties.

Clément Sanchez is the Director of Research at the French Council of Research (CNRS), holds a teaching position at L'École Polytechnique (Palaiseau), and is director of the Laboratoire de Chimie de la Matière Condensée at the University of Paris VI. He specializes in the fields of chemistry and physical properties of transition-metal oxide gels. Sanchez is responsible for leading a research group on the sol-gel chemistry of transition-metal alkoxides and the synthesis of new hybrid organic–inorganic materials. His main interests concern the study of the relationship between optical and mechanical properties and hybrid material structures. Recently, he has been studying selfassembly processes to build hybrid organic–inorganic materials textured on different length scales.

Sanchez received an engineering degree from L'École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Paris in 1978 and a PhD degree in physical chemistry from the University of Paris VI in 1981. In addition, he did postdoctoral work at the University of California—Berkeley.

Sanchez received the French IBM award for materials science in 1988 and was a recipient of the Société Chimique de France award for solidstate chemistry in 1994, CNRS's Silver Medal for chemistry in 1995, and the Yvan Pueches award from the French Academy of Science in 2000.

He has been an organizer of several international meetings, including the first European Meeting on Hybrid Materials (1993), and numerous symposia devoted to hybrid materials. He is member of MRS and the Société Chimique de France. Since January 2001, Sanchez has acted as chief editor of the New Journal of Chemistry (CNRS-Royal Society of Chemistry). He has authored over 200 scientific publications and has been an invited speaker at more than 40 international meetings.

Sanchez can be reached by e-mail at

Bénédicte Lebeau has been a French Council of Research (CNRS) scientist since 1998 in the Laboratoire de Matériaux Minéraux at the Université de Haute Alsace, in Mulhouse, France. Her current research is focused on the synthesis of highly ordered porous silica and aluminosilicate materials. Her primary interest is the modification of these solids by covalent coupling of organic functions on the inorganic network. Lebeau completed her graduate work with Dr. C. Sanchez at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, specializing in the synthesis and characterization of sol-gel hybrid materials for optics applications. After earning her PhD degree in 1995, she worked on the control of the morphology of hydroxyapatite crystals as a Rhodia-Lafarge- Bouygue postdoctoral fellow, after which she carried out postdoctoral research in biomimetics with Prof. S. Mann at the University of Bath. She has authored 28 scientific publications and was an invited speaker at the 2000 MRS Spring Meeting.

Lebeau can be reached by e-mail at