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Alain Pignolet

Thin Films, Smart Materials,

Ferroic and Multiferroic Materials; Heterostructures, Nanostructures; Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM)

Research project for a master’s or a PhD student in Smart Materials :




Research Interests


Professor Pignolet works in the field of synthesis and characterization of thin films, heterostructures and nanostructures of new functional materials and their potential applications to micro- and nanoelectronics, as well as to generation, conversion and storage. Energy.
He has extensive experience in the fields of thin film deposition and material characterization.
Part of his research focuses on the growth and epitaxy of thin layers and nanostructures of ferroelectric (magnetic, ferroelectric), multiferroic and magnetoelectric materials with a perovskite-like, double-persovskite or perovskite-like crystalline structure, as well as on the study of their structural and functional properties, both global and local.
One aspect of his work concerns the ultra-local characterization of the functional properties of materials by means of local probe microscopy, in particular magnetic force microscopy, Conductive AFM, and Piezoresponse Force Microscopy (PFM).



Ongoing Projets


Controlled growth of nanostructures of functional materials synthesized by PLD through nanostrencils

Study of ferroelectric thin films and multilayers for novel integrated devices

Single phase and composite epitaxial thin films of multifunctional materials

Composite multiferroic and magnetoelectric thin films

Hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites thin films for solar cells stable at ambient

Piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM), magnetic force microscopy (MFM) and conducting AFM (C-AFM)

[Tip-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (TERS) –collaboration with Prof. Andreas Ruediger]




Recent Publications


I.M. Asuo, P. Fourmont, I.Ka, D. Gedamu, S. Bouzidi, A. Pignolet, R. Nechache, and
S.G. Cloutier, Highly Efficient and Ultrasensitive Large-Area Flexible Photodetector Based on Perovskite Nanowires, Small  15 1804150, (2019), doi: smll.201804150.

I. Ka, I.M. Asuo,S. Basu, P. Fourmont, D. Gedamu, A. Pignolet, S.G. Cloutier, R. Nechache, Hysteresis-Free 1D Network Mixed Halide-Perovskite Semitransparent Solar Cells, Small  14 1802319 (2018). doi: 10.1002/smll.201802319.

J. Plathier, A. Pignolet, A. Ruediger, Note: Controlling the length of plasmionic tips obtained by pulsed electromechanical etching, Rev. Sci. Instrum. 89 096107 (2018).

I.M. Asuo, D. Gedamu, I. Ka, L.P. Guerlein, F.-X. Fortier, A. Pignolet, S.G. Cloutier,
R. Nechache, High-performance pseudo-halide perovskite nanowire networks for stable and fast-response photodetector, Nano Energy 51 324-332 (2018), doi:10.1016/j.nanoen.2018.06.057.

G. KolhatkarJ. Plathier, A. Pignolet, A. Ruediger, Effect of the Gold Crystallinity on the Enhanced Luminescence Signal of Scanning Probe Tips in Apertureless Near-Field Optical Microscopy, Optics Express 25, 25929-25937 (2017) doi: 10.1039/C7NH00075H.

 J. Plathier, A. Krayev, V. Gavrilyuk, A. Pignolet, A. Ruediger, Permittivity imaged at the nanoscale using tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, RSC Nanoscale 2, 365-369 (2017), doi: 10.1039/C7NH00075H.

 J. Plathier, A. Merlen, A. Pignolet, A. Ruediger, Relation between plasmonic tip emission and electromagnetic enhancement evidenced in Tip Enhanced Raman, published online Oct. 2017,  J. Raman Spectrosc. 1–8  (2017), doi: 10.1002/jrs.5260.

 L. Corbellini, Ch. Lacroix, D. Ménard, A. Pignolet, The effect of Al substitution on the structural and magnetic properties of epitaxial thin films of Epsilon Ferrite, Scripta Materialia 140, 63-66 (2017);  available online

 L. Corbellini, Ch. Lacroix, C. Harnagea, A. Korinek, G.A. Botton, D. Ménard, A. Pignolet, Epitaxially stabilized thin films of ε-Fe2O3(001) on YSZ(100), Sci. Reports 7, 3712 (2017)

T. Hajlaoui, C. Chabanier, C. Harnagea, A. Pignolet, Epitaxial Ba2NdFeNb4O15-based multiferroic nanocomposite thin films with tetragonal tungsten bronze structure, Scripta Materialia 136, 1–5 (2017), doi: 0.1016/j.scriptamat.2017.04.005.

T. Hajlaoui, C. Harnagea, A. Pignolet, Influence of lanthanide ions on multiferroic properties of Ba2LnFeNb4O15 (Ln = Eu3+, Sm3+ and Nd3+) thin films grown on silicon by pulsed laser deposition, Materials Letters 198, 136–139 (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.matlet.2017.04.023.

T. Hajlaoui, C. Harnagea, D. Michau, M. Josse, A. Pignolet, Highly oriented multiferroic Ba2NdFeNb4O15-based composite thin films with tetragonal tungsten bronze structure on silicon substrates, Journal of Alloys and Compounds 711, 480-487 (2017).

T. Hajlaoui, L. Corbellini, C. Harnagea, M. Josse, A. Pignolet, Enhanced ferroelectric properties in multiferroic epitaxial Ba2EuFeNb4O15 thin films grown by pulsed laser deposition, Materials Research Bulletin 87,  186–192 (2017).

T. Hajlaoui, M. Josse, C. Harnagea, A. Pignolet, Tetragonal tungsten bronze Ba2EuFeNb4O15–based composite thin films multiferroic at room temperature, Materials Research Bulletin 86, 30–37 (2017). [Also on the cover page of Materials Research Bulletin Volume 86, February 2017]

L. Corbellini, J. Plathier, Ch. Lacroix, C. Harnagea, D. Ménard, A. Pignolet, Hysteresis loops revisited: an efficient method to analyze ferroic materials, J. Appl. Phys. 120, 124101 (2016).

A. Pignolet, News & Views: Ferroelectrics Chaotic Memory, Nature Physics 10, 9-11 (2014).

C. Harnagea, M. Azodi, R. Nechache, C.-V. Cojocaru, V. Buscaglia, M.-T. Buscaglia, P. Nanni, F. Rosei, A. Pignolet, Characterization of individual multifunctional nanoobjects with restricted geometry, Phase Transitions 86, 635-650 (2013).

Lina Gunawan, Guo-Zhen Zhu, Yang Shao, Sorin Lazar, Olivier Gautreau, Catalin Harnagea, Alain Pignolet, Gianluigi A. Botton, Structural investigation of interface and defects in epitaxial Bi3.25La0.75Ti3O12 film on SrRuO3/SrTiO3 (111) and (100), J. Appl. Phys. 113, 044102 (2013).

M. Azodi, C. Harnagea, V. Buscaglia, M.-T. Buscaglia, P. Nanni, F. Rosei, A. Pignolet, Ferroelectric Switching in Bi4Ti3O12 nanorods,  IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics and Frequency Control 59, 1903-1911 (2012).

R. Nechache, C. Nauenheim, U. Lanke, A. Pignolet, F. Rosei and A. Ruediger, Coexistence of antiferromagnetic and ferromagnetic orders at remanent state in epitaxial multiferroic Bi2FeCrO6 nanostructures, J. Phys. Condensed Matter 24, 142202 (2012). Selected for inclusion in ‘IOP Select’

Riad Nechache, Catalin Harnagea and Alain Pignolet, Multiferroic properties-structure relationships in epitaxial Bi2FeCrO6 thin films: recent developments, J. Phys.: Condensed Matter 24, 096001 (2012). Selected by the editors for inclusion in the ‘Highlights of 2012’ collection.


Chairs, Groups, Networks


Ali Almesrati, MSc

Ivy Asuo Mawusi, étudiante au doctorat

Hossein Kalhori, étudiant au doctorat

Catalin Harnagea, PhD

Liliana Braescu, PhD

Christina Lacroix,PhD (Polytechnique)

Francois Vidal, Professeur

David Ménard, Professeur (Polytechnique)

Sylvain G. Cloutier, Professeur (ETS)




Collaborations :


Polytechnique Montréal (Prof. David Ménard)

McMaster University (Prof. Gianluigi Botton)

University of Warwick (Prof. Marin Alexe)

ICMCB-CNRS / Université de Bordeaux (Dr. Michael Josse, Dr. Mario Maglione)

Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada (Prof. Karen Kavanagh)





Dr. Alain Pignoletis Associate Professor and Director of the Ferroic Lab at INRS - Centre Énergie Matériaux Télécommuications since April 2002. With over hundred publications in peer-reviewed journals, 3 book chapters and over 1500 citations, Dr. Pignolet has been on the forefront of research into synthesis and characterization of thin films and nanostructures of advanced functional materialssuch as ferroelectric, ferroic, and multiferroic oxides. He also contributed to the advancement of piezoelectric force microscopy which enables imaging and characterization of the piezoelectric and ferroelectric properties at the nanoscale.

Alain Pignolet earned a Bachelor degree in Engineering Physics and his Ph.D. in Physics from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland. Joining the IBM Research Division (Thomas Watson Research Center) as a Post-Doc, he began working on high-permittivity relaxor materials, and moved to the Materials Research Laboratory, The Pennsylvania State University, to continue his research, working mainly with Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD), reactive multi-target magnetron and ion-beam sputtering. From October 1994 to December 2001, Dr. Pignolet has hold a Research Staff Position at Max-Planck-Institut für Mikrostrukturphysik (Halle/Saale, Germany) setting up a laboratory for deposition of ferroelectric thin films using large area PLD, as well as working on the optimization and better understanding of piezoresponse force microscopy.

Professor Pignolet’s present research interests and ongoing activities include the growth and studies of epitaxial thin films and nanostructures of functional materials such as ferroelectric, multiferroic, magnetic, magneto-optic or magnetoelectric materials for application in micro- and nano-electronics and integrated photonics. He has a particular interest for novel room temperature multiferroic and magnetoelectric materials.

In particular, he has investigated the growth of multiferroic nanocomposite heterostructures, such as epitaxial magnetic g-Fe2O3 and ferroelectric BiFeO3 composite films, as well as epitaxial composites films of magnetic BaFe12019 and ferroelectric Ba2LnFeNb4O15 (Ln = Eu, Nd, Sm). Professor Pignolet’s team was also the first to report the growth and characterization of epitaxial thin films of Bi­2FeCrO6 (BFCO), a material that had been predicted to be multiferroic by ab-initio calculation but never synthesized. He and his group showed that compressively strained BFCO epitaxial thin films and nanostructures exhibit multiferroic properties at room temperature, exceeding the theoretical predictions.

Similarly, epitaxial strains have also been used to stabilize the metastable epsilon phase of ferrite (ε-Fe2O3), a hard magnetic material potentially multiferroic at room temperature, in addition to possess the largest coercive field among oxides and to exhibit a magnetic resonance frequency in the low THz range.  ε-Fe2O3 epitaxial films therefore exhibit, in a single material, a number of properties of interest for various applications.



Scientific Activities


Member of the FRQNT multidisciplinary évaluation committee NC05: Chemistry, Physics and Materials

Member of the Scientific Committee of the Canadian Fund for Innovation (CFI), Leaders Opportunity Fund with topics related to Materials Science.

Expert/Examiner for the NSERC Discovery Grant Program.

External Examiner for the Ph.D. thesis of Mr. Hao Zhang “Novel Phases on Hetero-Epitaxial and Super-Oxygenated Thin Films of Complex Oxides”, Physics Department, University of Toronto, Avril 2018

External Examiner for the Ph.D. thesis of Mrs. Deepa SINGH, Materials Science & Eng. , IIT-Kanpur, India, “Approaches for improving ferroelectric properties of P(VDF-TrFE) for flexible memory devices”, August 2016.

External Examiner for the Ph.D. thesis of Mrs. Olga CHICHVARINA, Materials Science & Eng., National University of Singapore (NUS) “Study of Structure and Properties of Oxide Electrode Materials (Fe3O4, AZO, SRO) and their Device Applications”, Avril 2016.


Associate editor, The European Physical Journal of Applied Physics


Regular Reviewer for: Applied Physics Letter, Physical review B, Physical Review Letters, Journal of Applied Physics, Applied Physics A, Thin Solid Films, Functional Materials Letters, Microelectronic Engineering, Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Electronics, Journal of Materials Chemistry C


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