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France, located in Western Europe, covers a total area of 643,801 km2. As of July 2012, it had a population of 65,630,692. It is a permanent member of the EU, NATO, the G-8, the G-20, the United Nations Security Council, and other multilateral organizations. Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Mayotte, Martinique, and Reunion are overseas entities of France.
The 2011 GDP of France was $2.214 trillion. Based on its nominal GDP, the country is ranked as Europe’s second-largest and the world’s fifth-largest economy. The French government has fully or partially privatized several large companies and banks.
France has a wide range of industrial sectors that manufacture products as diverse as automobiles, perfume, electronics, and consumables. The country also exports items like transportation equipment and machinery, plastics, aircraft, pharmaceutical products, chemicals, iron and steel, high-end fashion, nuclear technology, and beverages.
France has several organizations and networks dedicated to promoting and exploring nanoscience. Mentioned below is a brief introduction to the top nanotechnology-related organizations in France:
Minatec Innovation Center—MINATEC offers nanotechnology research opportunities to almost 1,200 students, 2,400 researchers, and 600 business and technology transfer experts on its 20-hectare high-tech campus with 10,000 m2 of cleanroom space. The center has a yearly operating budget of €300 million and offers an exclusive innovation ecosystem with the shared technology platforms and expertise responsible for driving the collaborative projects that will promote future technological inventions.
National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CNRS)—This government-funded research organization is under the administrative authority of France’s Ministry of Research. It encourages partnership between specialists from varied disciplines with the university in order to make way for new fields of inquiry that will help fulfill economic and social needs. Interdisciplinary research is carried out in the following areas: Information, communication, and knowledge; Life and its social implications; Environment, energy, and sustainable development; Astroparticles; and Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, and materials.
C’Nano IdF—Operating as the Center of Competences in NanoSciences for the Ile-de-France region, C’Nano IdF synergizes 279 research teams working in more than 114 laboratories in Ile-de-France. Additionally, it benefits from the wealth of knowledge generated in the 27 wards of its teams.
Nanosciences—This is a Franco-American collaborative development established by the Office of Science and Technology. The nano-based programs developed in France and the United States are made available through this research facility. Areas of focus include nanotechnology and medicine, nanotechnology in society, and nanoelectronics.
Being a multipurpose field, nanotechnology finds applications in a wide range of industries. The top nanotechnology companies in France are mentioned below accompanied by a brief introduction to each of them:
Ademtech SA—Established in 2000, the company is located in Pessac (Gironde). With an initial wider knowledge in emulsion technology, Ademtech has developed and manufactured superparamagnetic nanoparticles for in vitro diagnostic and life sciences. The combination of complementary skills like polymer chemistry, immunology, physicochemistry, molecular biology, cellular biology, and virology leads to the development of unique nano-objects with exceptional characteristics. Ademtech offers its core expertise to customized coupling services based on the nanoparticles to create specialized purification tools.
Arkema—The Arkema Group was launched in October 2004 from the reorganization of Total’s chemicals branch. The three business segments of the company include High-Performance Materials, Coating Solutions, and Industrial Specialties. Arkema specializes in carbon nanotube production, among several other products.
ASELTA Nanographics—ASELTA manufactures ICs and delivers innovative software solutions for mask and wafer patterning based on e-Beam technology. The company facilitates the use of e-Beam lithography equipment for all advanced technology nodes such as 28 nm and above. Arkema specializes in developing new VSB Vistec machines and Gaussian machines such as IMSnano, Mapper, NuFlare, and Jeol.
AUREA Technology—Delivers “best in class” Near-Infrared Single Photon Counting Module SPD_A capable of high quantum efficiency, very low timing jitter, and extremely low dark count. The company also offers high-quality, innovative optical instruments that enable engineers and scientists to attain exceptional results and continue to stay at the cutting edge of their field. Auréa works closely with its partners and from all over the globe in order to meet the existing and future challenges in the life sciences, nanotechnology, biomedical, and optical communications industries.
Axialys Innovation—Axialys, a science company, leverages nanotechnology-based delivery systems to design high-performance products for the beauty and health industries. Supported by meticulous scientific research, nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems provide unbelievable benefits over current solutions—such as improved efficacy and absorption rates, reduced treatment costs, and lower toxicity levels. The company follows an efficacy-driven strategy that focuses on delivering groundbreaking solutions for the beauty and health industries. AXIALYS’ main nanotechnologies are developed around the properties of two types of material—Cyclodextrines: CycloXome™; and Phospholipids: Lipolink™, NanoXome™, ADS®, and StabiliSun™.
Baikowski—A prominent industrial company, Baikowski specializes in the synthesis of high-purity alumina powders and formulations, including specialty powders of spinel, zirconia, nanophosphors, YAG, and others. Such superior-quality materials are designed to cater to a broad array of markets, including watches and jewelry, lighting, plasma TV, microelectronics, and health and medicine, to name a few. Baikowski delivers innovation to high-tech customers via close technical cooperation and exchange.
FOGALE Nanotech—Established in 1983, the engineering company is now a global reference in the field of high-accuracy dimensional metrology. The company’s multidisciplinary team with proficiency in inductive, optical, capacitive, and ultrasonic metrology, as well as its strong scientific background, enables offering customized and standard systems based on the client’s implementation and utilization constraints. FOGALE nanotech’s engineering know-how and standard products are acknowledged in the most challenging fields of industry and laboratories (for example, defense, aeronautics, automotive, nuclear industry) in Europe, Asia, and the United States.
Nanobiotix—An oncology-focused nanomedicine company, Nanobiotix creates innovative nanoparticle technology and develops new tools for cancer that use a physical mode of action at the cellular level of the cancer cell. This disruptive method could reshape future treatment opportunities. The NanoXray technology includes three products that have the capability to cause an exemplar shift in cancer therapy. Specifically, NanoXray products may be able to overcome the existing restrictions of standard care in local therapy. These products are designed to selectively enhance the efficacy of radiotherapy in the tumor cell.
Nanoe—Nanoe focuses on bringing the complete potential of nanotechnology to innovative ceramics manufacturers. This is the reason why the company has strived hard to deliver ready-to-sinter nanopowders on an industrial scale at a reasonable price. The classification of chemical elements is challenged by nanotechnology. Even though macro-objects and nano-objects share the same composition, properties of nano-objects are considered to be much better. The introduction of nanomaterials will lead to groundbreaking innovations in the ceramic industry. In fact, nano-scale ceramics will not just improve the properties of existing products but also enable the marketing of innovative products including top clean technologies such as supercondensers and solid oxide fuel cells.
Nanolane—Nanolane specializes in developing and commercializing optical solutions for characterizing systems at the nanoscale. The company specifically focuses on commercializing an innovative optical materials characterization tool known as SARFUS. The tool is capable of extending the applicability of optical microscopy to the growing and booming field of nanotechnologies. SARFUS’ exceptional capabilities result from the application of the patented Surface-Enhanced Ellipsometric Contrast (SEEC) optical method.
Surfactis Technologies—Established in August 2004 as a spin-off from INSERM unit 646, the company offers industrial partners groundbreaking solutions for surface functionalization. Surfactis Technologies is based in the biotech park of Angers and has an agreement with the University of Angers to use scientific apparatus such as mass spectrometry, microscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry. The company’s nanocoatings are ultra-thin monolayers that are chiefly composed of bisphosphonates (BP).
L’Oréal Group—The Paris-based L’Oréal Group is the world’s largest beauty and cosmetics company and is the leading nanotechnology patent-holder in the United States.
Nanotechnology Research and Education
France is home to several universities that offer research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Listed below are some of the universities in France and the research opportunities or academic courses offered by them in nanotechnology.
Université de Lyon—It is a center for higher education and research, which includes 16 institutions of higher education. The center offers a Master’s degree in Nanoscale Engineering having a two-year curriculum offering both theoretical and practical expertise in all fields related to characterization, fabrication, and design of nanoscale structures and systems.
Master Nanotech—Offers a Master’s program in Micro and Nano Technologies for Integrated Systems, where students get the chance to do their semesters at Grenoble, at Grenoble INP—Phelma, France; Torino, at the Politecnico di Torino, Italy; and at Lausanne, at the EPFL, Switzerland.
The University of Bourgogne—Offers a Master’s degree in Nanotechnology and Mixed Nanobiosciences.
Université Joseph Fourier—Offers a Master’s program in Nanosciences/Nanotechnology and is located in the city of Grenoble. It specializes in the fields of technologies, sciences, and health.
University of Strasbourg—The university promotes the following:
- Institute of Physics and Chemistry of Materials of Strasbourg (IPCMS)—IPCMS is a multifield research center that specializes in developing and studying nanostructured materials or nano-objects at the forefront of societal concerns such as energy, communication technologies, and health.
Institut de Science et d’Ingénierie Supramoléculaires—ISIS is a mixed research unit that is shared by the University of Strasbourg and the French National Center of Research (CNRS). It focuses on supporting top-level scientific research at the interface between chemistry, physics, and biology. It includes two nano-based labs—Nanochemistry Laboratory and Nanostructures Laboratory.
Université Pierre et Marie Curie—Offers a Master’s degree in materials science and nano-objects specialization.
Ecole Normale Supérieure—Has joint affiliations to the Université de Pièrre-Marie Curie and the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. ENS supports the Microfluidics, Chemical Organization, and Nanotechnology Group, which focuses on developing interdisciplinary approaches at the interfaces between chemistry, biology, physics, and advanced nanotechnologies.
In October 2012, French scientists successfully developed nano-machines capable of mimicking human muscles by making coordinated contraction movements. Nicolas Giuseppone, professor at the Université de Strasbourg, headed the research team from the Laboratoire de Matière et Systèmes Complexes. This invention has the potential to open the door for several other new applications in the field of nanotechnology.
In August 2012, scientists from the California Institute of Technology and CEA–Leti, a government-funded research organization in Grenoble, France, successfully developed a scale weighing single objects that are even lighter than a megadalton, such as human antibody molecules and nanoparticles.
This device is considered as the first of its kind and will help in defining the masses of nanoparticles and individual molecules in real time. The key component in this device is a nanoelectromechanical resonator, which is an extremely small beam of silicon vibrating at two tones at the same time.
Recently, there was a huge boost to the commercial applications of MEMS devices with a research group from Laboratoire national de métrologie et d’essais (LNE) developing a technique for precisely measuring the power outputs of future and existing devices.
France has a dynamic nanotechnology sector. Several research groups work together with research groups from other organizations, both in France and overseas. Undoubtedly, this will have a positive effect, as it will help introduce new ideas and provide access to more equipment and infrastructure. This will enable France to maintain a high profile in the development of nanoscience and nanotechnology.