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Clara Aimar’s recipe for polymer foams

Published on March 29, 2021
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A graduate of Grenoble INP - Phelma, UGA and a PhD student at 3SR*, Clara Aimar recently won first prize in the “My Thesis in 180 Seconds” competition during the Alps final. Her work focusses on polymer foams for sports shoes with Decathlon.



Her presentation on foam, whether culinary or polymer-based, was a success. Clara Aimar is currently in her second year of a PhD at 3SR and was recently awarded first prize at the Alps final of MT180 on 9 March this year. The young researcher, who joined Grenoble INP - Phelma after a two-year preparatory course at Toulouse INP to pursue her love for materials, currently works on the polymer foams used to make soles for sports shoes.

It was during an internship at Decathlon, carried out as part of her engineering degree project, that she decided to continue her work through a PhD on the same theme: making polymer foams more resistant to repeated mechanical stress so that shoes protect sports players better and for longer. “Runners’ health is at stake, but also that of the planet,” explains Clara Aimar, who is concerned about reducing waste. “Currently, the best shoes are worn out after 1,000 kilometres of running. This figure should ideally be multiplied by two, and then ten”. To achieve this, the researcher is working on optimising the “recipes” of these foams (nothing to do with haute cuisine), by addressing the ingredients, formation processes, “cooking” temperature etc. She hopes to obtain new textures to improve the mechanical properties of the foams, which then have to be tested before the industrialization stage.

Chaotic beginnings

Things didn’t start well... around a year ago, the laboratory where she worked was destroyed by a fire, just three months after the start of her PhD. “All the machines on which I had started setting up some operations went up in smoke,” she explains. It was a tough blow, but the student didn’t give up hope. She used this period of several weeks of forced separation from the laboratory to work on her bibliography and prepare the analysis of future results. Today, most of the machines have been replaced, thanks to the financial support of the CNRS, Grenoble INP and the University, which jointly supervise the laboratory, and Clara has been able to resume her experiments.

Alongside Maxime Leprince, a PhD student at CERMAV (CNRS) and CEA-LETI, Clara will be representing the “Grenoble Alpes Savoy Mont Blanc Universities” group at the national semi-final of the MT180 competition, organised in France by the CNRS and the CPU. While waiting for the results, she will be closely monitoring the work of her fellow competitors in other regions. Good luck!

To find out more:
Watch the other prizes of the 2021 MT180 Alps Final (Clara’s presentation from 44')

*CNRS, Grenoble INP – UGA, UGA
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Date of update March 29, 2021

Grenoble INP Institut d’ingénierie et de management, Université Grenoble Alpes
Grenoble INP, Graduate schools of Engineering and Management
Université Grenoble Alpes

(Institut polytechnique de Grenoble)
46 avenue Félix Viallet
F38031 Grenoble Cedex 1 - France
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Université Grenoble Alpes