Photonics and Microwaves Competitiveness Cluster in Nouvelle-Aquitaine
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Photonics, a key technology for the 21st century

An ‘enabling’ technology

The term ‘photonics’ is used to refer to all technologies that make use of photons, particles that carry light. The discipline has profoundly changed science, the economy and our day-to-day life. Photonics is used in complex innovative products, and will be a key part of the innovations of the future. Optics and photonics are responsible for the revolution in telecommunications, the increase in data storage capacity and the miniaturization of photography and filming equipment. Progress in imaging and vision instrumentation has had a profound influence on many industries, from medicine to space, defense and surveillance. Finally, the development of light-emitting diodes, particularly organic LEDs, has resulted in the emergence of a new generation of light sources and screens.

A field that is constantly evolving

All of these changes will further accelerate in the years ahead, with the arrival of new technologies such as micro- and nano-technologies that will pave the way for new functionalities, while at the same time offering unprecedented opportunities for miniaturization.

Structural qualities

Optics and photonics lie at the heart of innovation and are associated with other fields including mechanical engineering, electronics, digital technologies and materials science. Photonics often offers innovative, elegant solutions based on its structural qualities – its capacity for integration, speed of intervention, contactless and remote operation and its ability to function in hostile environments.

Fast-growing markets

Long confined to the defense sector and its captive markets, optics and photonics are now primarily present on civil, often global markets. This profound shift and the speed at which technologies are developing are forcing businesses to be ever more reactive and to invest more heavily in research and development.

Microwaves, a constantly-evolving key technological field

An ‘enabling’ technology

At the heart of all telecommunications systems, microwaves involve the wireless or wired transmission of data at high frequencies. This technology occurs in many fields as well as in our day-to-day lives. It is used in telecommunications, radio broadcasting, radiotelevision, for television via satellite and for mobile phones. It has enabled very fast expansion of wireless communication systems (smartphones, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, contactless communication systems, GPS). It has long been used in radar sensing and navigation systems for military and aeronautical applications, and more recently, in the automobile industry.

A field that is constantly evolving

With the ever-growing need to transmit an ever-increasing amount of information via mobile, the capacity and speed of transmission channels must also be increased. Mobile phones are a perfect example of evolution, with 2G, 3G, 4G and soon 5G, as are the aeronautics and defense fields, which are constantly striving to improve performances.

Fast-growing markets

The two major drivers of growth in the coming decade are the Internet of Things and the automobile industry (self-driving cars). The health sector is another high-potential field.

A photonics and microwaves competitiveness cluster that is unique in France 

The ALPHA-RLH cluster’s expertise in these two cutting-edge technologies give it a major competitive advantage, and enables it to support the growth and structuring of the photonics and microwaves fields, both on a regional and national level.

Its Nouvelle-Aquitaine-based members develop laser sources laser, high-power lasers, next-generation fiber optics, highly-specialized microwave components (MEMS, power amplifiers, antennae, filters), and full systems (radars, radio navigation).

With its skills, knowledge, and technological expertise that is unrivalled in France, ALPHA-RHL is set to become the reference in photonics and microwaves clusters in France.