Fabien Alibart, a researcher at the IEMN, has just obtained a grant from the prestigious European Research Council (ERC).
From materials to systems: following the path of a paradigm shift
Fabien Alibart defended his thesis in materials science at the Université de Picardie Jules Verne in 2008. After a post-doctorate at the Institute of Electronics, Microelectronics and Nanotechnology (IEMN) and the University of Santa Barbara, where he developed components and neuromorphic circuits (which were inspired by the human brain), he obtained a position at the CNRS in 2012 and joined IEMN. There he developed new systems for bio-inspired calculation. He has just joined the CNRS-LN2 laboratory at the University of Sherbrooke (Canada) as an associate professor.
Fabien had already applied to the European Research Council (ERC) 4 years ago on an ERC Starting Grant. His patience was rewarded and, at the end of 2017, he was chosen among the 329 selected laureates for a Consolidator Grant scholarship, a fitting reward for the team’s lengthy investment in the scientific project, but also for the considerable personal investment it required. According to Fabien, it is sometimes necessary to take a step back and adopt a long-term perspective with respect to one’s research. This approach is at odds with more usual calls for projects, which tend to expect short-term results involving limited risk.
“The ERC is really a special case, one which requires unique and intense focus.”
Using digital technologies to better understand the brain
Fabien’s ERC scholarship project aims to develop digital tools for better probing, stimulating and recording brain signals. Thanks to a bio-inspired approach, his work will notably enable the optimisation of electrical signal recording based on learning mechanisms for ‘intelligent’ data storage. Long-term applications range from the development of tools for better communication with biological systems to the optimization of prostheses. This interdisciplinary project brings together the IEMN, the Jean-Pierre Aubert Research Centre (JPArc) and the Nanotechnologies & Nanosystems Laboratory (LN2). The project, which creates a veritable link between health and digital technology, also raises ethical issues requiring the involvement of the humanities and social sciences. Embodying excellence and transdisciplinarity, there is no doubt that this project will find an echo in the ambitions expressed by the I-SITE ULNE initiative.