Aquitaine, a sunny paradise in the South West of France, is well-known for its splendid landscapes surrounding the Arcachon Bay, its rich history including early contributions to building Europe through Aliénor and Henry II of England, and its exceptional wines unrivaled worldwide.
Aquitaine attracts the light and its capital, Bordeaux, creates a vibrant and outstanding place for optical sciences.
Recently, the laser named “PETAL”, the first facility capable of delivering 1.2 Petawatt power in less than one picosecond (1 ps = 10-12 sec.), was inaugurated by the regional representatives in the fall of 2015 (see e-EPS Newsletters of October 2015). Not too far from PETAL, the campus of Talence, hosting the scientific departments of the University of Bordeaux, has been developing for the past two decades the most modern prototypes of ultrafast and energetic laser systems, and it is currently involved in exciting research in photonics and plasma physics. At the Centre for Intense Lasers and Applications (CELIA), five teams are taking the lead in the physics of high-power lasers, ultrafast processes, laser-matter interactions in extreme conditions, laser-driven secondary sources and microprocessing with light. This laboratory devotes its activities to research and developments on fiber lasers, high-order harmonic generation (HHG) and ultrafast molecular spectroscopy, laser-solid interaction, warm dense matter and high energy density physics, as well as laser-driven X rays for probing plasmas and the densest states of matter. Experimental work is supported by eminent theorists hunting for the solutions to incredibly complex equations by means of massively-parallel numerical codes. CELIA achieved breakthrough results in HHG at high laser repetition rate, mid-infrared optical sources, laser writing of nanoparticles, time-resolved X-ray absorption spectroscopy and in the generation of ultrastrong electromagnetic fields. CELIA also strongly interacts with local industry devoted to optical technologies and develops fruitful collaborations with the French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). Value-added activities funded by the Aquitaine Region will soon be led on the development of future highly energetic lasers and towards the medical sector through novel imagery techniques for cancer treatments.
In addition to CELIA, the University of Bordeaux houses two highly respected laboratories involved with the science of light, namely, the Laboratory for Optics and Matter in Aquitaine (LOMA) and the Laboratory on Photonics, Numerics and Nanosciences (LP2N). The first one exploits ultrashort light pulses to probe matter by ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy. LOMA also develops intense activities in nanooptics and optofluidics. The second laboratory belongs to the Aquitaine’s Institute of Optics, the regional branch of the French ‘Institut d’Optique Graduate School’, which educates engineers in optics at the highest academic level. LP2N conducts research in nanosystems, quantum optics, bio- and numerical optics, instrumentation and augmented reality.
All these numerous activities cover the whole range of the most promising topic areas in modern photonics and laser-matter interaction. Day after day they are transforming Aquitaine into a figurehead of the French scientific landscape in optics.
Chair of the Quantum Electronics & Optics Division of EPS