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[en]The Laboratory of the Future (LOF) is a joint team between CNRS, Rhodia and University of Bordeaux 1. It was created in October 2004, with the aim to develop high throughput tools and methodologies adapted to research in chemistry. From the industrial point of view, LOF’s objective is to have a significant impact on our productivity, through an increase of our capability to access basic data for processes as well as physico-chemical properties of complex systems. The academic project focuses on the study of soft condensed matter at a small scale, and the characterization of out of equilibrium systems.

The laboratory has actually provided the answer to this expressed necessity of an increase in productivity. Along the four years of the existence of the team, we have developed new tools and methodologies, based on a common and transversal approach : miniaturization and high throughput. The use of robotics and micro- or milli-fluidics has allowed us to develop more experiments at a time, with a better quality and reliability, at a much faster speed.

The transversal approach that we are using and the on-site cooperation of industrial and academic people have actually opened new battlefields for the research activities of both partners.

The Laboratory of the Future now represents a key asset for Rhodia to maintain its leadership on existing markets, as well as to be faster on new markets. Simultaneously, it has opened new areas for the academic scientists who have joined the laboratory, and significant advances have been made in the field of the use of fluidics. This has been materialized by numerous publications in highly ranked journals. Along with the development of new tools, comprehensive studies have permitted significant progress in areas of the understanding the generation of jets and droplets in microfluidics, the behavior of flows and co-flows and related rheological properties, or the generation of crystallization from homogeneous systems.

We do have now a very extensive and diversified tool box. In addition, the development of skills and competencies at the highest level allows us to develop new programs, with both academic and industrial stakes. They are related to three main scientific and technical domains at the milli-, micro- and/or nano-fluidic scales : the behavior of complex fluids, the study of chemical reactions, and the generation of new materials. In all cases, working at the lowest dimensions as possible will open new fields of possibilities, both fundamental and applied."

Patrick Maestro, director of the LOF.