For the love of science

VALENTINE'S Day was the perfect time for leading French researcher Dr Philippe Poulin to share his love of science with some of his peers at an international symposium in Wollongong.

Dr Poulin was one of 150 leading researchers who converged on the University of Wollongong's Innovation Campus this week for the eighth annual International Electromaterials Science Symposium.

The event, which concludes today, has included a range of lectures and discussions around research areas including artificial muscles, smart textiles and solar energy generation.

However, yesterday's Valentine's Day-themed poster session allowed the scientists to really get to the heart of their research projects.

Dr Poulin, the director of research at the National Centre of Scientific Research in Bordeaux, shared his passion for "smart materials".

"These are materials that change their shape in response to stimulus like heat - in particular I'm interested in what we call 'shape memory materials'," he said.

"These kinds of materials have existed for some time, but we are discovering new properties that can lead to materials of much greater strengths and more diverse applications."

Dr Poulin has collaborated with the University of Wollongong's Intelligent Polymer Research Institute on the development of these new materials.

He said in Europe, like Australia, there was a lack of young people pursuing a career in science.

"I would say to anyone thinking of a career in science that it is a labour of love ... a job that comes with the freedom to explore and investigate whatever it is you're interested in."

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