Materials Research Activities

Jerzy Zarzycki autobiographical note

Jerzy Zarzycki

Read the transcript of our interview with Prof. Zarzycki (in French only, sorry)

Autobiographical note:

Jerzy Zarzycki, professor of Materials Science at the University of Montpellier, France, from 1972 to 1995, authored an influential textbook Les verres et l'état vitreux, Paris, Masson, 1982; updated Engl. transl. Glasses and the Vitreous State,Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Of Polish origin, Professor Jerzy Zarzycki has lived in France since 1940. On completing his studies at the Lycée Bugeaud in Algiers, he entered the Ecole Centrale, Paris, where he obtained an Engineering Diploma in 1949, simultaneously with a Licence des sciences degree at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). Three years later he was awarded his Docteur-des-sciences degree.

From 1954 to 1970, he worked at the Glass Research Laboratory of the Compagnie Saint-Gobain in Paris where he was appointed Chief of the Laboratory of Fundamental Research. In 1970 he was offered a Chair of Materials Science at the University of Montpellier, the first chair of its kind to be created in France. This entailed setting up, organizing, and being responsible for the Department of Materials Science; a large part of the curriculum of which was devoted to Glass Science and contained the only complete Glass Course in France.

From 1974 to 1984 (for a maximum of three mandates permitted) Professor Zarzycki was also appointed Director of the CNRS Glass Laboratory which was transferred from Paris to Montpellier. In 1985, this laboratory was incorporated into a newly created Laboratory of Science of Vitreous Materials combining several laboratories at the University of Montpellier. Here Professor Zarzycki continued his research until 1993. In addition to 230 publications in scientific journals, Prof. Zarzycki has authored the first textbook on Glass Science.

Professor Zarzycki has been a member of several editorial boards: Journal of Materials Science (since 1970), Glastechnische Berichte (1987-1999), and Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids (1968-1993). He has also been a member of numerous scientific committees: Materials Science Group of CNES (Centre national des études spatiales), ESA (European Space Agency), Committee on Biomaterials of DGRST (Délégation générale à la recherche scientifique et technique). He was administrator of the USCV (Union scientifique continentale du verre) until 2000 and Vice-President of the Administration Board the Secretary of the CURVA (Centre international de recherche sur le verre).

Research summary (by Prof. Zarzycki)

Three periods may be distinguished in Professor Zarzycki's scientific activity. The first period (1951-1970) was devoted to the study of the structure of molten salts and glasses. Following his initial investigations on cryoscopy in fused salts, which resulted in a Doctoral thesis (1952) his interest in igneous media led him progressively to the field of glasses.

His fundamental research carried out at the Saint-Gobain Glass Laboratory at first utilized an X-ray diffraction camera. Subsequently he used small-angle-scattering of X-rays (SAXS) combined with electron microscopy and optical transform methods.

Demixing processes both by nucleation-and-growth mechanism and by spinodal decomposition were investigated in detail. An original high-temperature SAXS camera was designed to study critical opalescence phenomena in fused media at elevated temperature.

The second period (1971-1984) at the Laboratory of Materials Science and the CNRS Glass Laboratory in Montpellier was orientated towards the study of various types of glasses and glass-ceramic materials obtained by catalysed crystallisation of specially designed precursor glasses.

New methods of synthesis of glasses using the sol-gel route were initiated. They enabled glasses, difficult or impossible to melt directly by conventional means (because of the high-temperatures involved) to be obtained at low temperatures in excellent homogeneity and purity conditions. This necessitated setting up a method of drying the gels in hypercritical conditions in order to preserve the monolithicity of the samples. Glasses obtained in this way are particularly suitable for use in advanced optical and opto-electronic devices.

The study of controlled crystallisation of chalcogenide glasses resulted in the synthesis of IR-transmitting glass-ceramics which improved thermo-mechanical properties. The synthesis of specially designed porous glass-ceramics led to biomaterials for prosthetic applications (artificial bone implants). This research was carried out in collaboration with Professor P. Rabishong, head of the INSERM Unit 103 for Biomechanical Research in Montpellier. Tests on animals for nearly eight years demonstrated excellent anchoring of these materials to the living bone tissue and their perfect tolerance by the organism.

The conversion of glasses into glass-ceramics, containing transition metal ions was followed by various spectrographic techniques (EPR, Mossbauer, internal friction).

The third period (1985-97) covers studies of Professor Zarzycki's research group at the Laboratory of Science of Vitreous Materials of the University of Montpellier in close collaboration with the research teams of Professor L Esquivias (Laboratory of Materials Science of the University of Cadix, Sapin) and Professor M. Aegerter (Institute of Physics and Chemistry, University of Sao Carlos, Brazil). Attention was focussed on the sol-gel processes and particularly on gels obtained under ultrasonic irradiation (sonogels). Structural studies based on SAXS determinations made at the LURE synchrotron facility at Orsay, France, were interpreted with models using fractal concepts. They cover all stages of the process: gel formation kinetics, drying and consolidation into a glass phase. The use of sonogels in the preparation of high quality glasses, of composite materials containing nanoparticles (quantum dots) for opto-electronic applications, materials for lasers as well as of high strength composites and protective coatings for metals was explored in some detail.

This page was last updated on 19 October 2001 by Arne Hessenbruch.