Future and Emerging Technologies, the European success of the University of Bordeaux

3D neuron networks for simultaneous translation, artificial intelligence for 6G, nano-synapses to detect cancer – three European projects from the University of Bordeaux have been awarded funding by the Horizon 2020 FET (Future & Emerging Technologies) program.

  • 18/02/2021

Left to right: François Rivet, Cristell Maneux, Sylvain Saighi Left to right: François Rivet, Cristell Maneux, Sylvain Saighi

These projects concern research into high-potential disruptive technologies for Europe and are piloted by researchers Cristell Maneux, François Rivet and Sylvain Saighi, all from the same laboratory, the IMS (Integration: from Material to Systems) laboratory.

Three high-potential, disruptive projects for Europe

Under the Horizon 2020 banner, the FET program funds collaborative research projects exploring new high-risk fields resulting in disruptive technologies with significant potential for Europe.

These three FET program successes will contribute to strengthening the work carried out in Bordeaux on material artificial intelligence and electronic components serving 6G. European funding for the laboratory (around €2.5m in total for the 3 projects) will enable the recruitment of doctoral and post-doctoral candidates in addition to research engineers to develop the technology of the future. 

Outside of the laboratory, the three projects have raised €12m and brought together several outstanding stakeholders in France (CNRS, Thales, Ecole Centrale de Lyon and CEA) and Europe (Namlab, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, KU Leuven, Silicon Austria Lab, Intracom, UBT Tech and INL, etc.).

Focus on the projects

FVLLMONTI, led by Cristell Maneux, aims to design a vertical transistor technology capable of acting as a memory element and which can be naturally stacked to form 3D neuron networks, similar to a set of LEGO bricks. To fully demonstrate the power of this new architecture, the project team decided to integrate it into an autonomous earpiece capable of translating in real time while reading the speaker’s emotion (irony, joy, anger, etc.). In 4 years, the first demonstrations will focus on translating French, English or German, before exploring non-European languages such as Japanese or Hindi.

While machine translation and natural language processing have greatly improved, an embedded lightweight energy-efficient hardware remains elusive. FVLLMONTI proposes a close integration of software and hardware solutions to enable low-cost and low-power speech recognition and translation systems.

C. Maneux —

HERMES, led by François Rivet, aims at creating circuits and methodologies to make 6G possible, by putting artificial intelligence into radio and exploring extremely high frequencies around 200GHz. The objective is to radically increase the speed of wireless communication, which will not be limited in the future to the connection of people or objects, but will also connect intelligent robots to work collectively without any human intervention.

Our project is a total breakthrough as it uses frequency conversion instead of time conversion. In addition, we add artificial intelligence to release all the potential of advanced technologies that are hard to combine with radio-frequency purpose.

F. Rivet —

RadioSpin, led by Sylvain Saighi, aims to design and produce a demonstrator capable of processing and storing information using neuronal dynamics, similar to the brain, but which learns and operates faster by seven orders of magnitude. The RadioSpin project will use nanosynapses, based on spintronic technology, and neuromorphic architectures to draw on the rich and reconfigurable dynamics of neuron networks. Algorithms inspired by the brain will explore the synchronization of oscillators and behavior in the approach to chaos. The exploratory results of RadioSpin will be applied, in collaboration with two industrial players, to the recognition of cancerous breast tumors and the identification of radio frequency footprints in radar signals.

Next steps

Looking ahead to the immediate next steps, the three projects will be focused on the recruitment of doctoral and post-doctoral students, the purchase of equipment, the administrative implementation of budgets, the creation of private collaborative and public websites, the implementation of interaction procedures for research teams scattered across Europe, etc.

Beyond these initial stages, the scientific project leaders are also planning for the long-term: in 4 years they hope to benefit from the ecosystem created by the EIC (European Innovation Council) ‘to boost Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)’. They plan, for example, to apply for EIC Transition to move closer to the market through testing and validation of their research in its pre-industrial phase. And, why not, in the long term, consider creating a start-up?!