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Emmanuel Macron visits Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems

30 May 2024

President of France joins German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier as research ties are strengthened.

Emmanuel Macron and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the presidents of France and Germany respectively, have seen optics and photonics in action as part of a state visit to Dresden’s Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS).

Arranged to coincide with the signing of a new memorandum of understanding intended to strengthen an existing collaboration between the Fraunhofer organization and France’s CEA-Leti, the visit also highlighted a political desire to enhance Europe's sovereignty in technological development.

Laser scanning microscope
According to a release from Fraunhofer, the two presidents were given demonstrations of cutting-edge research in the fields of microelectronics, medical engineering, and quantum technologies.

That was said to include the latest semiconductor components, as well as sensor rings used in mechanical engineering, and a laser scanning microscope being developed for real-time detection of cancer cells in the operating room.

The IPMS team has previously described its efforts within the “LSC-Onco” project, where a 488 nm-emitting blue laser is used to generate fluorescent light in target tissue, in a way that enables imaging of tumor cells beneath the surface.

The portable scanning device can be positioned next to the patient while they are in the operating theater, reported the team back in 2022 when they exhibited the technology at the LASER World of Photonics event in Munich.

However, the upgraded Franco-German collaboration seems largely geared towards strengthening Europe's competitiveness in the semiconductor industry, via the European Union’s “Chips Act” funding mechanism.

Quantum to battery technology
Under the leadership of the Research Fab Microelectronics Germany (FMD), the plan is to establish the most comprehensive and advanced pilot line for advanced heterogeneous system integration and advanced packaging over the coming years, with CEA-Leti - a world-leading center for silicon photonics research - a key partner.

“To further promote and enhance collaboration between the Fraunhofer and CEA institutes, François Jacq, President of the CEA, and Prof. Axel Müller-Groeling, Executive Vice President for Research Infrastructures and Digital Transformation at Fraunhofer, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during the visit,” announced Fraunhofer.

“The aim is to initiate closer collaboration and joint initiatives in the strategic areas of microelectronics, quantum technologies, solar and hydrogen technologies, the circular economy of CO2 and critical raw materials, as well as state-of-the-art battery technology.”

Müller-Groeling explained: “Collaboration across national borders helps to shape our future. Our close links with partners, such as the CEA on the one hand and industry on the other, enable us to work together to translate key technologies into practical applications and strengthen our position as a driver of innovation in European industry.

“Our applied research in particular is making a significant contribution to the technological sovereignty and competitiveness of Europe as a hub of industrial activity.”

Jacq added: “I am delighted that this agreement has been signed between the CEA and Fraunhofer, two leading research partners in Europe, at a time when it is necessary to join forces to address the challenges of a more sovereign, greener and more inclusive Europe.

“This agreement will allow us to develop and enhance collaboration in the strategic areas of microelectronics, quantum technologies, solar technology, hydrogen, circular economy, and critical raw materials.”

The signing of the MoU was followed by a panel discussion, featuring both Macron and Steinmeier, on the topic of artificial intelligence.

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