IRT Saint Exupéry pursues a series of portraits devoted to the men and women who best represent the institute: its researchers. Their high-level skills and wealth of experience contribute hugely to IRT Saint Exupéry’s performance and unique position, which is so crucial for its members and partners.
Can you tell us about your career?
I’m originally from the Paris region. My higher education began at the Pierre and Marie Curie University, where I majored in plasma physics and astronomy/astrophysics. During an internship at the Paris Observatory, I realized that astrophysics work focuses more on processing figures—a far cry from the beautiful images that had fascinated me since childhood. During my master, I discovered electric discharges. The visual aspect, and even the auditory aspect, immediately appealed to me. So I chose a topic having to do with electric arcs for my PhD thesis, which I defended in 2008, and I’ve been faithful to them ever since. I’ve dealt with electric arcs in several domains: in aeronautics, for my PhD thesis at ONERA in Palaiseau; in the railroad sector for my post-doc at the Technological Transfer Centre at the ESIEE engineering school in Amiens; and in metallurgy when working on my second post-doc at the Jean Lamour Institute in Nancy.
What was your role in the FIABILITE project of IRT Saint Exupéry?
I arrived mid-way through the FIABILITE project. Zodiac Aerospace wanted to study dielectric breakdowns in air. These electric discharges occur when there is a high potential difference level between two conductors. An insulators (or dielectrics) breakdown – air in this case –takes place. The voltage level required to produce it varies according to numerous parameters, such as the medium in which is it created, or the shape or material of the electrodes. My role was to test these voltage levels for different values of these parameters.
This word, composed of the prefix dia (δια) which means “through”, most often refers to an electric insulator. A material is dielectric if it is free of electrical charges that can move macroscopically. Therefore, it cannot conduct electric current.
Tell us some more about IRT Saint Exupéry’s HIGHVOLT project and your role in it
I am currently in charge of the electric arc lot. The initial phase of gathering requirements was complicated due to the large number of partners and the diversity of demands. After this stage, which consumed a lot of energy, I am going to get back to what interests me most–the technical aspect!
I also participate in the HYBELEC project, which aims to build up the same level of knowledge to optimize the mass of cable components. Very powerful cables are necessary to satisfy the aeronautics applications of future electric or hybrid propulsion. My role concerns the surface treatment of electric contacts, which is complementary to problems of electric arcs in electronic connectors or switches.
What results has the HIGHVOLT project yielded?
On the sidelines of the projects, the arc platform offers services managed by Nicolas Chadourne, in charge of the More Electrical Aircraft platforms. Our platform is constantly being expanded to satisfy different aeronautics constraints such as current and future voltage levels, high power, and environmental constraints (low pressure to simulate a plane in flight). To this end, equipment must be specified with the highest possible level of representativeness. This is very ambitious, if not impossible, given the diversity of types of airplanes and architectures with equipment powered by different means. It calls for a huge amount of teamwork.
Both projects – FIABILITE and HIGHVOLT – have generated many publications, and we will be presenting our research regularly at scientific conferences.
What do you like most about your work at IRT Saint Exupéry?
Do you have a small story to share with us?
 École supérieure d’ingénieurs en électronique et électrotechnique, a graduate school in electronic and electrical engineering
 Laboratory on plasma and conversion of energy (CNRS/INP Toulouse/UT3 Paul Sabatier)
 Grenoble Génie Electrique (CNRS/ Grenoble INP/Univ. Grenoble Alpes)
 Laboratoire Systèmes Electrotechniques et Environnement (Univ. D’Artois)