Yves Bréchet's scientific work, both in terms of research and education, focuses on materials science, and more specifically on metals and alloys. This deliberate choice he made immediately after graduating from the Ecole Polytechnique is consistent with his keen taste for interdisciplinary approaches (materials science at the crossroads between physics, chemistry and mechanics) and desire to bring together fundamental research with his vision as an engineer.
All of Yves Bréchet's research is guided by a common thread: to open the essential scientific locks for industrial issues requiring fundamental research to advance the development of increasingly efficient materials . This has guided his work on the genesis of controlled microstructures by mastering the development and transformation processes, the relationship between microstructure and mechanical properties, plastic instabilities and issues surrounding the optimal choice of materials. Most of his work focuses on modeling in close collaboration with experimentalists. In recent years, the shift towards "made-to-measure" materials has led him to develop research on "architectured" materials allowing more efficient multifunctional materials to be created, and on "biomimetics" that explore nature to find inspiration for new materials.
His positioning at the interface between academia and industry, in a discipline that irrigates all areas of engineering, has led him to work in sectors as diverse as aeronautics, automotive, energy production, as well as functional materials, microelectronics and biomedical materials. An engineer's designs require reliability and durability: this leads him to systematically assess the ageing of materials, particularly in sectors such as nuclear power. As a specialist of materials in nuclear environments, he was appointed a member of CNE, France's national review board in charge of evaluating research on waste storage.
Yves Bréchet sees his role as one of intermediation between industry and fundamental research and is therefore keen to closely combine research and education - engineering education and training researchers (75 PhD students), in the belief that solutions to complex technical problems faced by our modern societies can be found at least in part in the development of high-performance materials, and that such developments require a joint approach by engineers and scientists. This has led him, in parallel to his academic activity, to serve as a scientific consultant for both private companies (ArcelorMittal, Constellium, EDF) and public research institutions (CEA, ONERA).
In addition to authoring over 600 papers and three books, and co-authoring many expert reports including a recent Academies report on metallurgy, he has received numerous national and international awards and honors, including the PECHINEY Prize of the French Academy of Sciences (1990), the junior prize of the FEMS European prize for materials science and technology (1995), the Körber Foundation prize (1996), the SF2M Bastien Guillet prize (2000), the CNRS Silver Medal (2009), the Chinese Academy of Sciences Lee-Hsun Research Award (2010) and the Von Humboldt-Gay-Lussac Award (2010). He also received an honorary doctorate degree from McMaster University (2012).
He has always been deeply involved in the metallurgy community, serving as a member of the National Council of Universities (CNU) and CNRS Commission 9; he has coordinated numerous scientific projects, such as the "Aeronautical Alloys" Research Program Contract (CPR) (1996-1999), the "Ti Al Intermetallics" Research Group (GDR) (2000-2004), the MAPO project (2005-2009) and MANSART project (2009-2012), the CPR on architectured materials (2009-2012), the "Odyssey" CPR (on ODS alloys) (2011-...). He is currently Scientific Director of the CEMAM LABEX (Multifunctional Architectured Materials). He is very much committed to teaching, engineer training and scientific culture in secondary schools; he chairs the Board of the École de Chimie in Paris (2011-... ) and also chairs the Scientific Committee of the Foundation for scientific education in secondary schools (LAMAP Foundation of the Academy of Sciences) (2011-...).