Photonics, 80,000 jobs and 18.6 billion in turnover in France, a technology that we use daily without knowing it

It is a promising sector with the possible creation of 5,000 jobs within three years in France. But this area remains unknown. Photonics is the science of light. The only photonics chair in France is at CentraleSupélec, in Metz, in Moselle.

Photonics is the science of light. We use it daily without even knowing it to watch television, with our smartphone and computer screens, but also to scan an item in a supermarket or even by using fiber optics. It is also found in intelligent vehicles that detect obstacles or in the military field, to guide missiles and in night cameras.

However, this discipline remains unknown. To CentraleSupelec, in Metz, in Moselle, is the only chair of photonics in France. For Marc Sciamanna, holder of this chair, if we know so little about this science, it is also the fault of the scientists themselves: ” We have to be able to touch people’s hearts. We have to inspire young people. I am in an engineering school. Young people talk a lot about artificial intelligence. Photonics is another way of thinking about technology. This is, however, the path to follow for the ecological environmental energy transition”.

Photonics also means 80,000 jobs in France, 18.6 billion in turnover, 5,000 job creations in the next three years, a document from the sector.

The Metz photonics chair has developed an educational binder with which all Moselle colleges are equipped. Its name: E-lumi, a magic box that contains dozens of experiments to do in class. Among those who have the most success: how to hide a secret message thanks to photonics? How to transmit music with light? How to make images on any screen invisible except to yourself with polarization.

We are working on guiding light

Marc Sciamanna, Holder of the Photonics Chair, Professor at CentraleSupélec in Metz

At the Metz Photonics Chair, researchers are working on avenues for the future: “this work concerns the guiding of light. The light, for you, it goes straight. We are working on a device which, without any electronic mechanical adjustment element, allows the light to learn its way all by itself. This is called all-optical information routing. It’s the future.” It can thus avoid or circumvent an obstacle. We can also mention the use of laser to reduce the life of waste radioactive. For Marc Sciamanna, it is also essential to achieve our objectives of reducing our energy consumption. : “it’s the best way to process information tomorrow while consuming less electrical energy.”

We can put information in the light

Lucas Oliviero, Nonlinear Photonics PhD Student

Transporting sound with light is already the case in our daily lives. Lucas Oliverio is in his second year of thesis at the Ecole Centrale Supelec in Metz, specializing in photonics. He explains to us:n this bench of practical work, light can become a carrier of information, in this case, here, sounds, it can be music. If you pass a sheet through the laser, it disturbs the beam and therefore the transmission of information and the sound is cut off. This is what we find in telecommunications networks, in miniaturized form, a laser with different optical effects. We can put information in the light. We say that we modulate light with information. In fiber optic networks, it is exactly this type of installation that is found in an optimized and miniaturized version.

The Metz photonics chair sees things on a grand scale now. She proposed a French photonics institute which will become a reality very soon with 3,000 m2 dedicated to photonics. Marc Sciamanna is impatient: “the idea is to make a space that everyone can appropriate to discover applications of photonics. We will move part of our laboratories there to make them more visible. We plan to become the first photonic training center in France. The Institute project has been validated. We are embarking on a signing phase for what will be one of the largest consortia, which includes four universities in the Grand Est region, support and innovation structures and around thirty companies. This consortium should be set up in 2023″.

The building should be completed in 2026. The Institute of Photonics will take the form of a unifying network of partners and sites (Metz Nancy-Troyes-Strasbourg-Mulhouse) linking the territory of the Grand Est. In Europe, there are currently two photonics institutes in Germany and one in Spain. The future French Institute will also be cross-border. Agreements have already been signed to this effect.

Leave a Comment