Axis 1: Nano-optics and quantum systems

The axis “Nano-optics and quantum systems” encompasses the studies of optical and quantum phenomena at microscopic scales through the study of nanosystems, cold atoms and hybrid systems.

The study of the properties of nanosystems focusing on the investigation of charge complexes both in nanocrystals and in carbon nanotubes can lead to new advances in quantum computation and quantum information. For instance, nanocrystals with an excess charge can constitute model systems for solid-state quantum optics, offering possibilities of spin-photon entanglement, optical read-out of a charge spin as well as coherent optical spin rotation. Cold atoms can also be used as a “quantum optics” tool, where studies on quantum nondemolition (QND) measurements can be used to phase lock the local oscillator to an atomic superposition state or prepare atomic states with sensitivities beyond the classical limit by using non-classical input states in an atom interferometer.

Important efforts in this axis are also put onto quantum physics at low temperature, in particular to gain deeper understanding into superconductivity and superfluidity, following various approaches. For instance, while the charge distributions of vortices may be determined using single fluorescent molecules used as ultra-sensitive nanoprobes, ultra-cold fermions provide the possibility to simulate the quantum properties of solids by replacing the solid matrix with light and the electron gas with atoms.

Finally, this axis promotes the development of experiments studying the coupling between “classical” and quantum objects, such as optomechanical cooling.


Axis 2: Light and matter waves in artificial media

The axis “Light and matter waves in artificial media” focuses on the collective properties of wave (either matter or electromagnetic) in the presence of nanostructured media.

In optics, the current understanding of the properties of periodic structures have reached a good degree of maturity, thanks to the initial works on grating diffraction, photonic crystals and metamaterials. In sharp contrast, model or design recipes to tailor the optical properties of complex (e.g. quasi-ordered, disordered) and hybrid media are still in their infancy. The development of new theoretical and numerical tools able to cope with such complex systems is a central subject of the axis.

In parallel, important efforts are being put onto integrating nanophotonics and atomic physics, with possibilities to provide new routes for quantum networks and enable exploration of quantum many-body physics with engineered atom-photon interaction.

Finally, coherent phenomena involving electrons or photons in the optical interaction with metal nanostructures are investigated, which may enable important advances in optical information processing at deep subwavelength scales.


Axis 3: Innovative imaging and quantitative biology

Biology has continuously benefited from new tools offered by related sciences, such as chemistry, physics and computer science. The contribution of optical imaging has always been considerable and the recent development of nanotechnology, especially in the field of photonics, offers new perspectives for basic research in biology as well as for diagnostic assistance or new therapy discoveries. The ability to image, quantify, analyze and manipulate bio-assemblies at molecular, cellular or tissue level, in a non-invasive manner has become essential to a better understanding of the mechanisms governing living organisms health. These developments are now considered as key to advance biological discoveries and biomedical applications.

The axis “Innovative imaging and quantitative biology” intrinsically covers these aims with the study of basic biological processes as well as medical issues through the development and application of innovative imaging methods and quantitative analysis derived from advanced physical approaches. These methods include, for instance, single molecule detection, super-resolution imaging, single nanoparticle tracking, optofluidics, cellular spheroids and find applications in cell biology, neurosciences and cancerology.

Axis 4: Computational and optical systems, mixed reality

The axis “Computational and optical systems, mixed reality” tackles new concepts in terms of virtual reality, smart sensors and display systems. Two essential notions are guiding our studies: realism and interactivity. Both depend on the chosen quality and the variety of the data that can be captured from the real world and that can be displayed. To reach sufficient realism, image synthesis relies on the richness of simulable and measurable physical phenomena targeted for a given application. To reach interactivity, the main requirement is to elaborate efficient algorithms and numerical methods. To offer new perspectives to existing systems, it is therefore necessary (i) to investigate new algorithms to simulate always more phenomena with always higher quality, (ii) to acquire and display these phenomena with a high fidelity, (iii) to keep a computational time compatible with the real-time constraints of applications.

The studies performed in this research axis propose to tackle the problem under the optical, numerical and computational viewpoints. Optical for the design of the measurement and display systems, but also for the validation of the modeled phenomena. Numerical and computational for their ability to deal with, analyze and generate data. Taking into account these three components in hybrid systems will lead to the convergence between the real and virtual worlds by limiting the transition and conversion steps, the ideal situation being that a unique information travels from the sensors to the display through the numerical system.

Axis 5: Industrial partnership, metrology and photonic systems

Innovative research often relies on instrumental development and upstream research. The “Industrial partnership, metrology and photonic systems” axis aims at establishing a fertile research environment at the crossroad between photonics, electronics and high precision instrumentation as well as advanced optical systems for scientific and industrial applications. The availability of photonic systems with high metrological performances or novel functionalities, such as smart sensors, laser systems for the manipulation of nano-objects or new projection systems, can undoubtedly be beneficial for several fields of modern physics. This axis capitalizes on the rich industrial and academic environment on laser development and computer science in Bordeaux, and relies partly on the concept of shared laboratories where academic staff and industrial partners join their effort to develop innovative concepts, create new tools and tackle fundamental scientific questions.