Xavier Morelle, PhD


CNRS Associate Researcher in Soft Matter Science & Engineering

View the Project on GitHub Xmorelle/webpage

Research Homepage

About me

I am an enthousiastic materials science researcher focusing on the mechanics of soft and hard polymer networks, and more specifically how heterogeneous architectures can impact and potentially improve their mechanical and physical response.

I have completed a PhD thesis in Materials Science in the group of Pr. Thomas Pardoen at UCLouvain in Belgium. Then, I have pursued a post-doctoral stay in the group of Pr. Zhigang Suo at Harvard University in the field of Soft Active Materials for two years. As a second postdoc, I worked on the mechanics and fracture of multiple-network elastomers and pressure-sensitive adhesives in the Laboratory of Soft Matter Science and Engineering at ESPCI Paris with Pr. Costantino Creton and Pr. Matteo Ciccotti. I have now joined the Polymer Materials Engineering Lab (IMP - UMR5223) at INSA-Lyon where I have recently obtained a permanent CNRS Research Associate position.

To learn more details on my background, have a look at my CV.

Recent news

Scientific Vision and Projects

keywords : mechanics and fracture of polymer networks, multi-scale characterization, micro-mechanical modeling, design of smart active materials.

A common trait throughout my whole research experience is the strong will of seeking a better molecular understanding of polymer networks deformation and fracture micromechanisms, in order to in-fine establish more clearly the relation between polymer microstructure and their macroscopic properties. Building on the knowledge of this rather theoretical quest, I also envision to tackle more multi-disciplinary and coupled problems through the study and design of soft active materials. The area of soft matter mechanics being extremely vast, it still offers plenty of room for new exciting developments.

Projects : in construction…

Education & Academic achievements


# 2020 - now : Laboratoire Ingénierie des Matériaux Polymères (IMP - UMR5223) | INSA de Lyon, Villeurbanne, FRANCE 

Prospective research on the large strain and fracture behavior of ionic liquid (IL) modified polymer systems. The first step focuses on controlling the mechanical behavior through the topological nano-structuration of a phosphonium-ionic liquid epoxy system, while in second step multi-functional responses will be also considered, taking advantage of IL conductivity and thermal properties. The work is performed in the laboratoire d’Ingénierie des Matériaux Polymères (IMP) in collaboration with S. Livi, Pr. S. Pruvost, J. Bernard, Pr. J. Duchet \& Pr. J.-F. Gérard.


# 2017 - 2019 : ESPCI | PSL, Paris, FRANCE 

Fundamental research using mechano-chemistry as a tool to study the mechanics and fracture of soft polymer networks, going from adhesives to hydrogels and elastomers. A focus is set on the understanding of the stress-transfer and fatigue mechanisms occurring in multiple network hydrogels and elastomers through optical analysis of fluorescent molecular markers. The work is performed in SIMM lab in collaboration with Pr. Creton, Pr. Ciccotti & Pr. Barthel.


# 2015 - 2017 : School of Engineering and Applied Science | Harvard, Cambridge - MA, USA

Research in the field of soft active materials in the group of Pr. Zhigang Suo. My research involved the preparation of tough hydrogels, their specific mechanical and fracture characterization under a large variety of testing conditions (from sub-zero temperatures to fatigue loading), as well as the development of new engineering devices making use of their multifunctional properties.


# 2011 - 2015 : IMAP, iMMC | UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, BELGIUM

Research in materials science with both experimental and modeling work in the field of mechanics of polymers and polymer-based composites. Development of an original physics-based theory for modelling the meso-scale heterogeneous micro-mechanisms of glassy polymers. Collaborations on applied research projects with the aeronautical industry (Safran group, TechSpace Aero, Sonaca), as well as fundamental research with other international groups (KULeuven, Trinity College, IMDEA, Imperial College), were pursued in parallel.

Dissertation: “Mechanical Characterization and Physics-Based Modeling of a Highly-Crosslinked Epoxy Resin”, supervised by Pr. Thomas Pardoen \& Pr. Christian Bailly.


# 2010 - 2011 : Erasmus student exchange in the Chemical Engineering and Chemistry Department | TU/e Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, NETHERLANDS

Five months stay as a visiting master student, including a two-months research project in the field of nano-composites under the supervision of Pr. L.E. Govaert and Pr. J.G.P. Goosens.

Invited talks






pre-print works

xx. X. P. Morelle, J. Chopin, C. Creton, E. Barthel, M. Ciccotti, “Critical parameters governing heterogeneous adhesion of PSA on textured surfaces”, under preparation.

yy. R. Bai, X. P. Morelle, J. Wang, Z. Suo, “Rupture and debonding of soft layered materials”, under submission.


  1. G. E. Sanoja, X. P. Morelle, J.Comtet, C. Creton, “Why is Mechanical Fatigue Different from Toughness in Elastomers? The Role of Damage by Polymer Chain Scission”, 2021, accepted in Science Advances, pre-print available on ChemRxiv.

  2. X. Yao, B. Chen, X. P. Morelle, Z. Suo, “Anti-icing propylene glycol materials”,Extreme Mechanics Letters, 2021, vol 44, 101225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eml.2021.101225.

  3. T. Pardoen, N. Klavzer, S. Gayot, F. Van Loock, J. Chevalier, X. P. Morelle, V. Destoop, F. Lani, P. Camanho, L. Brassart, B. Nysten, C. Bailly, “Nanomechanics serving polymer-based composite research”, Comptes Rendus de Physique,for the “Plasticity and Solid State Physics” special issue, 2021.doi:10.5802/crphys.56

  4. H. Chabane, S. Livi, X. P. Morelle, Rodolphe Sonnier, Loïc Dumazert, Jannick Duchet-Rumeau, Jean-François Gérard, “Synthesis of New Ionic Liquid-Grafted Metal-Oxo Nanoclusters – Design of Nanostructured Hybrid Organic-Inorganic Polymer Networks”, Polymer for “GFP 50th Anniversary” special issue, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polymer.2021.123721

  5. X. P. Morelle, G. E. Sanoja, S. Castagnet, C. Creton, “3D Fluorescent Mapping of Invisible Molecular Damage after Cavitation in Hydrogen Exposed Elastomers”, Soft Matter, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1SM00325A


  1. R. Bai, J. Wang, X. P. Morelle, Z. Suo, “Flaw-insensitive hydrogels under static and cyclic loads”, Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 2019, 1800883. https://doi.org/10.1002/marc.201800883 )
  2. J. Chevalier, X. P. Morelle, P. P. Camanho, F. Lani, T. Pardoen, “On a unique fracture mechanism for highly cross-linked epoxy resins”, Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol 122, 2019, pp.502-519. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmps.2018.09.028


  1. J. Chevalier#, L. Brassart, F. Lani, C. Bailly, T. Pardoen, X. P. Morelle#, “Unveilling the nanoscale heterogeneity controlled deformation of thermosets”, Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, vol 121, 2018, pp. 432-446. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmps.2018.08.014

  2. X. P. Morelle, W. R. Illeperuma, K. Tian, R. Bai, Z. Suo, J. J. Vlassak, “Highly stretchable and tough hydrogels below water freezing temperatures”, Advanced Materials, vol 30, 2018, 1801541. https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.201801541

  3. P. Rothemund, X. P. Morelle, K. Jia, G. M. Whitesides, Z. Suo, “A transparent membrane for active noise cancelation”, Advanced Functional Materials, vol 28, 2018, 1800653. https://doi.org/10.1002/adfm.201800653

  4. E. Zhang, R. Bai, X. P. Morelle, Z. Suo, “Fatigue fracture of nearly elastic hydrogels”, Soft Matter, vol 14, 2018, pp. 3563-3571. https://doi.org/10.1039/C8SL00460A

  5. R. Bai, J. Yang, X. P. Morelle, C. Yang, Z. Suo, “Fatigue fracture of self-recovery hydrogels”, ACS Macro Letters, vol 7, 2018, pp. 312-317. https://doi.org/10.1021/acsmacrolett.8b00045


  1. X. P. Morelle, R. Bai, Z. Suo, “Localized deformation in Plastic Liquids on Elastomers”, Journal of Applied Mechanics, vol. 84 : issue 10, 2017, pp. 101002 https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4037410

  2. R. Bai, Q. Yang, J. Tang, X. P. Morelle, J. Vlassak, Z. Suo, “Fatigue fracture of tough hydrogels”, Extreme Mechanics Letters, vol 15, 2017, pp. 91-96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eml.2017.07.002

  3. X. P. Morelle, J. Chevalier, C. Bailly, T. Pardoen, F. Lani, “Mechanical characterization and modeling of the deformation and failure of the highly crosslinked RTM6 epoxy resin”, Mechanics of Time-Dependent Materials, vol. 21 : issue 3, 2017, pp. 419-454. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11043-016-9336-6


  1. J. Chevalier, X. P. Morelle, C. Bailly, P.P. Camanho, T. Pardoen, F. Lani, “Micro-mechanics based pressure dependent failure model for highly cross-linked epoxy resin”, Engineering Fracture Mechanics, vol. 158, 2016, pp.192-216. https://doi.org/1016/j.engfracmech.201602.039

  2. V.-D. Nguyen, F. Lani, T. Pardoen, X. P. Morelle, L. Noels, “A large strain hyperelastic viscoelastic-viscoplastic-damage constitutive model based on a multi-mechanism non-local damage continuum for amorphous glassy polymers”, International Journal of Solids and Structures, vol. 96, 2016, pp. 192-216. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2016.06.008


  1. A. Bahrami, X. P. Morelle, L. D. Hông Minh, T. Pardoen, C. Bailly, B. Nysten, “Curing dependent spatial heterogeneity of mechanical response in epoxy resins revealed by atomic force microscopy”, Polymer, vol. 68, 2015, pp. 1-10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polymer.2015.04.084


Invited lecturer for a 2h seminar on the viscoplasticity of polymers, given to an auditorium of 50 engineering students in their 2nd year of master degree.

Preparation and monitoring of lab sessions (2h/week) with a brief theoretical course before actual experiments given to 50 engineering students in their 1st year of master degree. T.A. also involved the correction and grading of lab reports. Topic : lab #1 (Deformation and fracture at the macro-scale - uniaxial tension test and stress-strain curves); lab #2 (Introduction to fracture and concept of toughness - Critical stress intensity factor (K1c) computation.

Monitoring exercises sessions (4h/week) of classes of 30 students in 1st year of bachelor in engineering. Topic : Atomic structure, intra- and inter-molecular bounds and associated properties; introduction to thermodynamics (concepts of enthalpy, heat, entropy, spontaneous and non-spontaneous processes); acid-base reactions.

Monitoring excercise and lab session (2h/week + 6h of lab) of classes of 20 students in 2nd year of bachelor in engineering. Topic : Perfect gases, kinetic theory of gases; 1st (closed and open systems) and 2nd principle of thermodynamics ; chemical equilibrium between gaseous and aqueous phases; applications to electro-chemistry and redox reactions.


Awards & Fellowships

Professional and community services

Professional social media

General audience media