University of Bordeaux at the heart of quantum science

Launched last January, the national quantum program aims to boost the French quantum technology ecosystem. Innovation, training and research: an overview of Bordeaux-based projects exploring the world of the infinitely small with its surprising and promising properties.

  • 05/02/2021

© Alphanov © Alphanov

On the 21st January, 2021, the French President announced a €1.8 billion investment over 5 years in the framework of the ‘quantum program’, with the aim of positioning France as a key player in quantum technologies.

By uncovering the often surprising workings of the infinitely small, quantum physics anticipates that a material particle can also simultaneously be a wave. It also predicts that an atom can be found in several places at once, or that we cannot accurately determine the movement of a microscopic object, but simply estimate the probability of it moving in a particular direction.

100 years ago, fundamental research opened the way to a first quantum revolution which changed present-day society on a profound level, with transistors, lasers, superconductors and ultra-powerful microscopes. Today, researchers and industrialists are working towards a second revolution.

Increasingly powerful computers, safer communication systems and measuring devices that are gaining in accuracy could change transport, medicine, or the exploration and observation of planet Earth enormously; there is a vast potential for applications. The recent roll-out of the quantum program consolidates the strategy developed among French scientific communities, including the University of Bordeaux, which aims to rise to the challenge and play a leading role in this new technological revolution.

Innovation – Naquidis Center

The University of Bordeaux, the Institut d’Optique Graduate School (IOGS), the CNRS and Limoges University, alongside the Alpha-RLH competitiveness cluster and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, have launched the creation of the NaQuiDisinnovation center. In this new quantum technologies hub, joint projects of the highest level will be carried out in research, innovative application development and technological solutions around three core themes: quantum sensors, a field that can rely on an already well-established ecosystem, including a pooled navigation laboratory and the start-up Muquans; the quantum supply chain, which draws more specifically on the region’s excellence in the field of photonics; and quantum communication and IT, which brings together photonics, IT and mathematics. This center is also involved in other initiatives, such as the Graduate Program in Light Sciences & Technologies, the LaPhia excellence cluster (Laser and Photonics in Aquitaine), the future major research program, LIGHT, or the Quantum Matter Bordeaux program.

The project is being led by Philippe Bouyer, CNRS researcher and Deputy Director of IOGS in Bordeaux. Bordeaux-based laboratories involved in the project are the Photonics, Numerical and Nanosciences Laboratory – (LP2N – CNRS, IOGS and University of Bordeaux), the Laboratory Waves & Matter of Aquitaine (LOMA – CNRS and University of Bordeaux), the Center for Intense Lasers and Applications (CELIA – CNRS, CEA and University of Bordeaux), the Bordeaux Mathematics Institute (IMB - CNRS, Bordeaux INP, INRIA and University of Bordeaux) and the Integration: From Material to Systems Laboratory (IMS – CNRS, Bordeaux INP and University of Bordeaux.).

Training – Graduate Program in Light Sciences & Technologies

The Graduate Program in Light Sciences & Technologies at the University of Bordeaux offers an integrated master’s-doctorate program in several fields of scientific excellence: light generation, manipulation and detection; extreme light systems, and light in quantum and bio-photonic technologies. Transdisciplinary teaching is focused on research, with intensive work placement periods in the campus laboratories or in company R&D departments. This program provides training in innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of photonics and is open to international mobility (partnerships with INRS Quebec and ABS Jena in Germany, among others). Some 20 doctoral and 70 master’s students are enrolled per year, including ten student-engineers taking the dual syllabus organized with the Institut d’Optique Graduate School (IOGS). Since its creation 2 years ago, 60% of existing training hours have been adapted to the latest scientific and technical innovations, in order to expand training in English and the manipulation of research tools. The program takes place at the Institut d’Optique d’Aquitaine, a unique site which is home to teaching, research activities and start-ups. Brahim Lounis, Professor at the University of Bordeaux and who is leading his research in the LP2N laboratory, is the director of the program.

Research – Quantum Matter Bordeaux

A community of some one hundred researchers, Quantum Matter Bordeaux is internationally renowned with members in 120 overseas institutions (50% in Europe, 25% in the USA and Canada). The project brings together chemists, physicists and theoreticians in a synergy which manages the complexity of current challenges. This community is contributing to the new impetus of French exploratory chemistry, with the next generation of superconductors and high-temperature molecular magnets that are more environmentally-friendly (less toxic and more sustainable), in addition to multi-purpose materials. By unlocking crucial technological keys, it forms the bridge between ultra-cold gas atom scales on networks (500nm) and that of quantum matter (0.1nm). These experimental developments on the study of topological, magnetic and opto-mechanical systems on nanometric scales are bolstered by a sound theoretical investment in analytics, digital science and AI. This research paves the way for numerous potential applications in the fields of spintronics, electronics and quantum simulation, in addition to highly-sensitive sensors or the control of chemical reactions.

The project is led by Ludovic Jaubert, CNRS researcher at LOMA. The laboratories involved in the project are: LOMA, the  Paul Pascal Research Center (CRPP – CNRS and University of Bordeaux), the Institute of Condensed Matter Chemistry of Bordeaux (ICMCB – CNRS, Bordeaux INP and University of Bordeaux), the Institute of Molecular Science (ISM - CNRS, Bordeaux INP and University of Bordeaux), and the LP2N.

Scientific contacts

Philippe Bouyer
Head of the Naquidis Center project

Brahim Lounis
Director of the Light Sciences & Technologies program

Ludovic Jaubert
Head of the Quantum Matter Bordeaux project