The Bordeaux Region is one of the major hubs of the laser/optics industry in Europe.
With the best facilities and the brightest profiles in the photonics field, Bordeaux expects to be an important player on the world stage in the science of light.
For nearly 15 years, the region has put all its effort into attracting researchers, investors, start-up companies and manufacturers.
The Bordeaux Region, a major player in Lasers and Optics
Laser Megajoule, Institut d’optique, Alphanov, PetaWatt…. Aquitaine is today the region in Europe that has most invested in the development of the laser and optics industry.
Investments for the construction of the Laser Megajoule, the ambition of public authorities to maximise the scientific and economic impact of this significant facility, the creation of three industrial parks dedicated to the industry and the strength of the historical academic research in photonics in Aquitaine have all made the Bordeaux region one of the major hubs of the laser and optics industry
Lasers: expertise, applications and markets at the cutting edge of technology
Over the years and built around the Mégajoule project, the laser/optics industry in the Bordeaux Metropolitan Area has become structured and has managed to develop and enhance its innovative know-how in the field of photonics:
- Laser components
- Laser processes
- Medical equipment
- Virtual and augmented reality
- Optical materials
- Measurement and characterisation
There are multiple applications covering many markets:
- Healthcare and biology: biotechnologies, neuroscience, cardiology, ophthalmology, oncology, dentistry, biomedical, medical imaging, dermatology, 3D printing of living tissues…
- Scientific instrumentation and industrial equipment: document scanning, industrial control, aerospace, wood, wine, agriculture, textiles, clocks, mechanics and engineering, electronics and microelectronics, IT, packaging, robotics…
- Energy sources of the future and sustainable development: photovoltaic, thermodynamic, intelligent lighting, LED/OLED, materials and chemistry, measurement…
“The laser/optics industry will be to the 21st century what electronics was to the 20th”… The European Union has even identified photonics as one of the six key technologies of the future.
Route des Lasers: a dedicated national competitiveness cluster
At the heart of the development strategy of the photonics industry in Aquitaine, the national competitiveness cluster “La Route des Lasers” brings together all players in the laser-optics industry and has 110 members, including 85 companies.
Around the Mégajoule site, the “Route des Lasers” has developed and 3 science and technology parks have been set up to host researchers and manufacturing firms: Laseris 1 and 2 and the Cité de la Photonique, as well as the science and technology park near Bordeaux.
Today the competitiveness cluster aims to become the global benchmark for innovation, training of players and industrial development in the field of intense lasers.
The dynamism of the Bordeaux region: scientific excellence, technology transfer and skills pool
Academic research is working to support the entire industry, focusing on innovative developments and applications of photonics.
The University of Bordeaux in particular is recognised and branded for its excellence and includes:
- a Labex (Laboratory of Excellence that brings together teams from the main Bordeaux laboratories: LAPhIA
- and two Equipex (equipment of Excellence: PETAL+ and MIGA, Institut d’Optique)
The Bordeaux laboratories, in which CELIA, LOMA, ILP , and LP2N, have developed laser sources and techniques which are unique in the world. They work closely with the University of Bordeaux, CNRS, CEA and private companies.
Finally, driven and funded by the Aquitaine Region, the Institut d’Optique d’Aquitaine is a training, research and company creation continuum which is unrivalled in France. This technology hub relies on:
- The Institut d’Optique Graduate School (IOGS): 250 people involved in teaching and research who train researchers and engineers for careers in optics, computer science, nanosciences and complex systems;
- ALPhANOV, the Aquitaine centre of laser technology transfer between laboratories and companies. ALPhANOV also hosts start-up companies in incubation;
- Initial and ongoing training at the University of Bordeaux – PYLA, the national benchmark for training on intense lasers;
- And of course the “Route des Lasers” competitiveness cluster which brings together all the players, skills and resources of the sector in Aquitaine.
Focus on the Megajoule projet
The Megajoule Laser has been a work in progress for nearly 15 years, involving 3 billion euros of investment (70% to industry), a 300-metre-long building and 500 people working on the site. Ultimately, the Megajoule Laser will be one of the two most powerful lasers in the world.
With the backing of technological research organisation Atomic and Alternative Energies Commissariat (CEA), the simulation tool for nuclear tests in the military application also provides critical support to basic research and the development of lasers, photonics and plasmas. It could also, in the long term, pave the way for the production of energy for civilian use.
In parallel, the PETAL+ laser, labelled EquipEx (equipment of excellence) is a scientific research tool for civil experiments.