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Open to researchers and industry

The facilities in the Simulation program are outstanding achievements in terms of their technical capabilities and performance. In accordance with the policy approved by the French Ministry of Defense in 2002 and allowing access by outside users to resources, these facilities are made available to the scientific community during specific periods.

The LMJ and its PETAL laser line are unique tools for simulating phenomena that occur under conditions of extreme temperature, pressure and density, such as those that occur in the cores of stars and planets.

The installation of the LMJ at Cesta led to the development of the Laser Route project in 2002.

This ecosystem, which was officially designated as a competitiveness cluster in 2005, contributes to the development of the optical and industrial sectors for the laser, healthcare, instrumentation and energy application markets.

It is built around training, research, technology transfer and industrial activity in optics and lasers. 

This project was structured in stages:

Two units have been created by the CEA, the University of Bordeaux 1, the CNRS and the École Polytechnique:

  • For research: the creation, in 2003, of the Plasma and Laser Institute (ILP) to structure French research around high-power lasers, and the creation of the LAPHIA laboratory of excellence to bring together many laboratories in the Bordeaux area.

    Laser and Plasma Institute

    Le bâtiment de l’Institut Laser  Plasmas. Crédit CEA

    The Laser and Plasma Institute building. © CEA


    The mission of the ILP is to promote research on hot, dense plasmas and intense lasers. Combining 25 French laboratories, it is the point of entry for experiments on the LMJ. The first open experiments were conducted on the LIL in late 2005.


  • The creation, in 2004, of the Route des Lasers, a local public-private partnership that business with real-estate opportunities. Located in the commune of Le Barp, near the LMJ, the Laseris business areas bring together industries and research laboratories in the sector.
  • The creation, in 2005, of the PYLA platform for continuing education, and the expansion of formal education at the University of Bordeaux, which was completed in 2012 by the arrival of the Institut d’Optique Graduate School (formerly the Ecole nationale supérieure d’optique).
  • The creation, in 2007, of Alphanov, a technology transfer platform, to promote research and make its expertise and know-how available to industry.

The Center for High Intensity Lasers and their Applications (CELIA) was created by CEA, the University of Bordeaux 1, CNRS and the Ecole Polytechnique. Located next to the ILP, CELIA brings together some sixty researchers who openly collaborate with scientists from CEA, the University of Bordeaux and CNRS in research on hot, dense plasmas, optics and lasers.

PETAL: Petawatt Aquitaine Laser

Petal, Petawatt Aquitaine Laser. © CEA
Petal, Petawatt Aquitaine Laser. © CEA

Backing up the experimental programs carried out at the LIL and, in the future, at the LMJ, additional research facilities are available for work in the fields of laser and plasma physics. PETAL, the Petawatt Aquitaine Laser is one example of this.

Launched by the Aquitaine Regional Council in 2003, this project aims to create a major civilian research facility – the only one of its kind in Europe – dedicated to inertial confinement fusion studies, understanding of the universe and medical research.
The project was made official by the signature of a tripartite agreement by the French government, the Aquitaine Regional Council and CEA during a ceremony attended by all three partners on September 12, 2011. The Aquitaine Regional Council is the contracting authority and is contributing €22 million to the project, which is currently estimated at €54.3 million.
The PETAL project involves the construction of laser beamline in addition to the 176 beamlines already in place in the LMJ. This additional laser beamline will have an output of some ten megawatts (ultra-short pulses of one picosecond, or around one thousand times more powerful than an LMJ laser beamline but one thousand times shorter) when paired with the LMJ, a high-energy laser (long pulses of a few nanoseconds).
The first experiments are scheduled to take place in 2016.

For further details visit:

MàJ: 21/11/2014
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