Biography of Prof. J.-M. Georges

Professor Jean-Marie GEORGES (1939 – 2015)

Jean-Marie was born in Chaumont (Haute-Marne) in 1939 and studied at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon, where he obtained his doctorate in 1964. His scientific career started in the French engineering industry at the Center for Hydromécanique et Frottement in Saint-Etienne, where he studied electro-chemical surface treatments to reduce surface wear, which was also the subject of his Ph.D. thesis. In 1968, Professor Georges left France to continue his research work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On his return to France Professor Georges took up an Academic appointment at the Ecole Centrale de Lyon and in 1970 established the Département de Technologie des Surfaces. In 1992, the laboratory was enlarged and renamed the Laboratoire de Tribologie et Dynamique des Systèmes (LTDS). The laboratory is now recognized as one of the leading tribology research groups worldwide. Throughout his career, he also maintained close international relations, especially with Japan and the University of Tohoku in Sendai.

Professor Georges’ research focused on understanding tribology mechanisms at the nanometer scale. To do this, he and his group designed and developed highly sensitive equipment capable of measuring and understanding lubricating film properties at the molecular level. These new capabilities initiated the study of boundary films, molecular friction, surface rheology, and lubricant additive mechanisms. Professor Georges is particularly known for his work on zinc dialkyl dithiophosphates which are an important class of lubricant antiwear additives. The research was reported in many significant papers published in international journals. One outstanding aspect of his work was the ability to communicate his research to a wider audience and to place the findings in an engineering context. The work did not exist in an academic vacuum but contributed to the benefit of industry and society. For this reason, Professor Georges participated in the program “la main à la pâte,” teaching at a secondary school, generating giant soap bubbles to the delight of the schoolchildren and their teachers. His studies are summarized in his book published in 2000: Frottement, usure et lubrification: La tribologie ou science des surfaces.

During his career, Professor Georges received many national and international awards recognizing the importance of his work. In 1993, he was elected senior member of the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF). Professor Georges also received the 1994 Tribology Trust Gold Medal from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers UK which is awarded each year to outstanding Tribologists on the world stage. The citation states the award is “In recognition of his outstanding contribution to tribology and in particular, to the development of techniques for the measurement and analysis of surface forces on the molecular or nanometric scale.”

Professor Georges was a great scientist, respected and admired by all, at ease amidst tribologists and physicists in France and worldwide. We are indebted to him and remember him as a great man, a great teacher, with an unlimited curiosity, a communicative enthusiasm, grand gestures, and an unforgettable laugh.

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