Press room

You are here

News releases

Polytechnique Montréal and seven partners inaugurate the largest NSERC research chair in coatings and surface engineering

Interference optical layers for glasses, architectural and automobile window glazings, optical filters for photonics and projection, thermochromic coatings for satellite control, aircraft engines, electrical installations and industrial valves resistant to erosion, wear and corrosion

September 25, 2012

Polytechnique Montréal, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and seven industry partners are inaugurating today the NSERC Multisectorial Industrial Research Chair in Coatings and Surface Engineering (MIC-CSE).

As the country's second-largest industrial research chair awarded by the NSERC, all fields combined, the MIC-CSE will benefit from a budget of $5.35 million over five years from NSERC ($2.6 million), and from seven partners (a total of $2.75 million): Essilor, Hydro-Québec, Guardian Industries Corp., Pratt & Whitney Canada, Velan, JDS Uniphase and the Canadian Space Agency.

“Molecular millefeuilles” for clean industrial processes
Research will focus on developing a new generation of non-polluting manufacturing technologies for nanostructured coating materials. These processes make it possible to add successive layers of nanometre-thick films and thicker coating architectures using various materials (metals, ceramics, polymers, nanoparticles or others) on to flat surfaces as well as on three-dimensional objects. Far from being limited to corrosion and wear protection, these “molecular millefeuilles” aim to confer a wide range of functional characteristics to the surfaces: anti-glare, anti-erosion, anti-fog, but also self-controlled (or “smart”) optical reflectivity or emissivity, luminescence, sterility and more.

“The possible functionalities are limited only by our imagination!” said Ludvik Martinu, MIC-CSE Chairholder and Professor in the Department of Engineering Physics at Polytechnique Montréal. “The technologies we are developing will help us avoid relying on processes that are harmful to the environment, such as those using solvents. This is in response to a sustainable development issue that's becoming crucial for businesses. It will also help explore new avenues for energy saving and for new high-value-added products.”

A place for idea exchange, synergy and training
The scope of collaborations within the MIC-CSE Chair reflects the immense variety of industry fields in which multi-layer coating technologies can be applied. The research carried out at Polytechnique will improve the sustainability and effectiveness of materials in sectors as varied as aerospace, energy and manufacturing, as well as optics, photonics and space exploration.

“The MIC-CSE Chair aims to be above all a place to stimulate and exchange ideas, where partners working in very different areas but sharing common concerns can benefit from top-notch expertise,” said Professor Martinu. “This openness strengthens the potential for collaboration and fosters the creation of new areas to explore.”

For his part, Polytechnique's Chief Executive Officer Christophe Guy stated: “This synergy between collaborators from various realms creates a particularly stimulating environment for the new generation that is being educated here.”

Launched more than 25 years ago, research in the field of advanced materials and nanotechnologies at Polytechnique brings together some 20 researchers today, including about half a dozen in the specific field of surface engineering. Mr. Guy continued: “Thanks to top-tier equipment and the best specialists in the field, this research area is attracting excellent recruits to Polytechnique. Over the next few years, the Chair intends to train more than 15 master's and doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows, a valuable cohort for Canadian industry.” 

From left to right : Martin Bracamonte, Guardian, Réjean Girard, Hydro-Québec, Gil Perez, Velan, Christophe Guy, Polytechnique Montréal, Janet Walden, NSERC, Darius Nikanpour, Canadian Space Agency, Ludvik Martinu, Polytechnique Montréal, Jean-Luc Schuppiser, Essilor, Jolanta Sapieha, Polytechnique Montréal, Fréderic Lefebvre, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Robert Sargent, JDS Uniphase

Seven partners in as many fields of application
“Canada is home to one of the world's most significant research hubs in the field of surface engineering,” said Suzanne Fortier, President of NSERC. “Professor Martinu has already made many major contributions to this cutting-edge field, and as the holder of the industrial research chair, he will have an unprecedented opportunity to expand the impact of his work. Thanks to Professor Martinu's work, businesses active in a broad range of fields will be able to reduce costs while making the most of the latest advances in the field of thin-film coatings. The entire field will benefit from the progress made by Professor Martinu and his impressive team.”

“Essilor International launched its first generation of premium antireflective lenses, Crizal®, 20 years ago in Canada. The timing of this new collaboration is a good omen. After several generations of Crizal® lenses, with ever increasing performance, we think that, in order to push forward scientific and technical development, we need to collaborate with excellent academic institutes, such as the Functional Coating and Surface Engineering Laboratory directed by Professor Martinu at Polytechnique Montréal. It seemed a natural step for us to take part in this Chair, together with other groups which are all excellent in their fields. The synergies and the cross-fertilization between academic and industrial researchers will allow for significant progress and breakthroughs in the field of antireflective coatings and surface treatments.”

Guardian Industries Corp.
“Guardian is excited to be participating in the NSERC Multisectorial Industrial Research Chair. We see it as a unique opportunity to advance the understanding and technology of energy-saving performance glazings and other coated glass applications through collaboration amongst industries with shared, though non-competitive, interests. The world-leading team of researchers and research facilities at Polytechnique Montréal under the direction of Professors Ludvik Martinu and Jolanta Sapieha provide an ideal focal point for this collaborative effort. Areas of particular interest to Guardian include novel plasma-based processes and their effects on thin- film properties, understanding the role of interfaces on the film growth, new and novel passive and active materials, and strategies to obtain long-term durability. Development in these areas is a key part of Guardian's future success and will enable us to deliver the next generation of energy-saving and enhanced-functionality coated glass products to the Canadian and global markets.”

JDS Uniphase
“Since 1993 JDS Uniphase and the Functional Coating and Surface Engineering Laboratory (FCSEL) at Polytechnique Montreal have worked together on the development and understanding of film growth processes such as PECVD, magnetron sputtering, and HIPIMS. The FCSEL laboratory includes deposition platforms and analytical instruments that are in many cases different and complementary to those at JDSU. This collaboration has enabled important research and commercial progress in our field. Looking forward, JDSU's interests in the Chair program include the development of plasma-based deposition processes and understanding the effects of these processes on film properties and performance.  JDSU looks forward with anticipation to working with Ludvik Martinu and Jolanta Saphieha and their team at FCSEL, as well as with the other industrial partners in the NSERC Multisectorial Industrial Research Chair.”

“Hydro-Québec is pleased to participate in this Polytechnique Industrial Research Chair, which boasts an impressive number of industry partners who share a common interest in the field of coatings and surface engineering. Hydro-Québec owns assets of 60 G$. They are aging and their replacement is costly. The aging process implies phenomena such as corrosion, wear, erosion or fracture that take place at surfaces or interfaces of equipment components. New materials, more specifically coatings, are center to the development of methods for protecting and repairing equipment. They allow to prolong the life and performance or to restore the functionality of damaged equipment”.

Pratt & Whitney Canada
“Within this Chair, P&WC wishes to advance solutions with respect to technological challenges including erosion-resistant coatings for new applications, erosion mechanisms and predictive tools for the design of new protective coatings, hydrophobic and icephobic erosion-resistant protective coatings, and advanced coatings with new coating functions. These objectives are aligned with P&WC's commitment to ensuring that its products are designed, produced and operated while minimizing environmental impacts throughout their life cycle.”

“Velan has been working with the team led by Professors Martinu and Sapieha for over a decade, and we are pleased to join Polytechnique Montréal as part of this chair. The protection of valves by surface treatments to improve wear resistance is a strategic R&D focus for Velan. We are interested in optimizing hard-coating welding procedures applied to highly alloyed steels as well as in developing surface treatments applied by thermal spraying and vacuum-based techniques.”

Canadian Space Agency
“Space missions require components capable of operating in a narrow temperature range with low mass, power and volume and which can thrive in harsh launch and space environments. The improvement of existing coatings and thin films and the development of new ones are critical in addressing some of the technical complexities of spacecraft design. Moreover, the Canadian Space Agency is particularly interested in developing highly qualified personnel in this field of research.”

About Polytechnique Montreal
Founded in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal is one of Canada's leading engineering teaching and research institutions. It is the largest engineering university in Québec for the size of its student body and the scope of its research activities. With over 40,000 graduates, Polytechnique Montréal has contributed to the education of more than 25% of the current members of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec. Polytechnique provides training in 16 engineering specialties, and has 242 professors and more than 7,100 students. It has an annual operating budget of over $200 million, including a $72-million research budget. 

NSERC is a federal agency that helps make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators for all Canadians. The agency supports some 30,000 post-secondary students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 12,000 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging about 2,000 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.

About Essilor
The world's leading ophthalmic optics company, Essilor designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of lenses to improve and protect eyesight. Its corporate mission is to enable everyone around the world to access lenses that meet his or her unique vision requirements in order to improve everyone's quality of life. To support this mission, the Company allocates around $180 million to research and development every year, in a commitment to continuously bring new, more effective products to market. Essilor reported consolidated revenue of $5.2 billion in 2011 and employs around 48,700 people in some 100 countries (over 1,000 people in Canada).

About Guardian Industries Corp.
Guardian is a diversified global manufacturing company headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, with leading positions in float glass, fabricated glass products, fibreglass insulation and other building materials for commercial, residential and automotive applications. Through its Science & Technology Center, Guardian is at the forefront of innovation including development of high-performance glass coatings and other advanced products. Guardian, its subsidiaries and affiliates employ 18,000 people and operate facilities throughout North America, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, including 400 employees in Canada (Industries Cover, PQ, $60 M/year).

About JDS Uniphase
A leading provider of optical products and test and measurement solutions for the communications industry, the JDSU technology portfolio is a key enabler for optical solutions in industries such as broadband communications, brand enhancement and authentication, manufacturing and energy. Its workforce is made up of 5,000 employees, about 350 of whom are in Canada. Fiscal year 2012 revenues were $1.7 billion.

About Hydro-Québec
Hydro-Québec generates, transmits and distributes electricity, mainly using renewable energy sources, in particular hydroelectricity. It also conducts research in energy-related fields and takes an active interest in energy efficiency. In addition, it works to create value from the technologies that emerge from its research. Hydro-Québec has 37 GW of installed power and its 22 500 employees contribute to an annual turnover of 12 G$ and a net profit of 2.6 G$ (2011 annual report).

About Pratt & Whitney Canada
Founded in 1928, and a global leader in aerospace, Pratt & Whitney Canada is shaping the future of business aviation with dependable, high-technology engines. Every second, a P&WC-powered aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world. There are currently more than 49,000 P&WC engines in service on over 28,000 aircraft operated by some 10,000 operators in 200 countries. Pratt & Whitney Canada is the number-one research and development investor in Canadian aerospace and among the top five in Canada for all industries. It accounts for almost 50% of aerospace R&D conducted in Canada with an average of over $400 million every year for the past five years.

About Velan
Velan is one of the world's leading manufacturers of industrial steel valves. The company was founded by acclaimed inventor and entrepreneur A.K. Velan in 1950, and continues to leverage advanced technical capabilities and innovation to create valves for the power generation, chemical and petrochemical, oil and gas, pulp and paper, mining, cryogenic, and ship-building industries. In 2011, Velan employed 1,995 people across the world who contributed to revenues of more than $450 million. The company has a global network of 15 manufacturing plants in North America, Europe and Asia, as well as four distribution centres and hundreds of distributors all over the globe.

About the Canadian Space Agency
Established in 1989, the specific mandate of the Canadian Space Agency is to promote the peaceful use and development of space. Its main interests within this Chair include thermal management in satellites, materials performance and stability in the harsh environment of space, and training of manpower.


Annie Touchette
Senior Communications Advisor
Polytechnique Montréal
514 340-4711, ext. 4415 / 514 231-8133




Media Relations

Communications advisors from the media relations team plan, organize and oversee the relations between Polytechnique Montréal and the media.

Meet our team