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Sofradir switches HQ to Palaiseau

05 Nov 2013

Infrared detector manufacturer shifts headquarters from Chatenay-Malabry to Palaiseau*.

Sofradir, the French company with expertise across the full range of infrared detector technologies, is to move its head office to the Palaiseau hi-tech region near Paris.

The move follows Sofradir’s recent addition of infrared expertise belonging to parent companies Sagem and Thales – and should see the manufacturing and R&D facilities relating to three of its four key infrared technologies housed under a single roof by spring next year.

Hi-tech region
Located to the south of the French capital, Palaiseau is an established base for materials and optics research. The region also hosts the Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquée (LOA) at the Ecole Polytechnique and the CNRS Laboratory of Photonics and Nanostructures, as well as local companies including Imagine Optic, Quantel and 3S Photonics.

And just a month ago Sofradir signed a new five-year development agreement with the government-owned aerospace research center Onera, whose applied optics and sensing departments are also located in Palaiseau.

Sofradir says that the relocation results from a need to expand and increase production. Since the Sagem and Thales transfers it now offers high-speed, mid-IR indium antimonide (InSb), indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) and quantum well infrared photodetector (QWIP) technologies - as well as the more conventional mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) devices that it originally provided.

The new 4,000 square meter site in Palaiseau is to host Sofradir’s second technological center, focused on advanced infrared imaging technologies.

“At the new Palaiseau headquarters, Sofradir will be looking to achieve technological leadership across [the] whole arsenal of infrared technologies,” said Philippe Bensussan, the company’s CEO.

“We aim to replicate the environment in Grenoble, with the close relationships between industry, universities and research centers that have been key to the successful innovations we’ve accomplished using the single high-performance infrared detector technology we have owned for the last 25 years. I am proud that we will take an active part in the expansion of the science and technology cluster in Palaiseau.”

Export market
Sofradir says that it now exports 80 per cent of its infrared products for use in military equipment like thermal imagers, missile seekers, surveillance systems, targeting systems or observation satellites.

It has already produced some 6,000 detectors based on its flagship MCT technology, claimed to be the highest unit volume produced in this category.

But as infrared technology becomes cheaper and military spending weakens, reports now suggest that commercial applications will provide the primary momentum behind the future growth of the infrared technology market, through applications such as machine vision.

“The performance and price of infrared detectors are key to the competitiveness of optronics systems,” added Bensussan. “Giving our customers this competitive edge has always been the main driver of our technological developments. The powerful combination of infrared technologies puts us in a far stronger position than ever. We’ll be able to offer customers the widest choice of product for any application across the whole spectrum from visible to very far infrared.”

* update (November 12): This article was updated on November 12. To clarify: Sofradir's headquarters is moving from Chatenay-Malabry to Palaiseau, both located near Paris. Sofradir's existing manufacturing base is located in Grenoble.

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