iXblue, a high-tech company in the fields of navigation, photonics and space, and maritime autonomy, will benefit from the French nuclear recovery plan, which aims to support investment and strengthen the capabilities of the French nuclear industry.

In this context, the Specialty Optical Fibers Division based in Lannion is participating in the 3F2E collaborative project, along with industrial partners SEDI-ATI, TechnicAtome, and EDF, as well as with the technology platform Photonics Bretagne. The project seeks to develop a metal and/or carbon coating on special optical fibers, which will allow the use of sensors in nuclear environments.

iXblue is a world leader in the manufacturing of special optical fibers with a very specific expertise in fibers resistant to severe environments (nuclear, space...). The special radhard fibers for extreme environments manufactured at the Lannion site in Brittany are today integrated in many systems exposed to radiation, including the space gyroscopes designed by iXblue or the Mega Joule Laser operated by the CEA near Bordeaux. The company has also been collaborating since 2006 with the Hubert Curien laboratory of the Jean-Monnet University of Saint-Etienne, with which a joint laboratory was created in 2019, the LabH6, to study the behavior of optical fibers in severe environments. The company is also taking part in an experience as part of the ESA's Alpha mission with CNES in the International Space Station with a fiber-optic dosimeter to measure radiation levels on board the station.

“We work very closely with the nuclear industry on a growing variety of sensor types in radiative environments," said Thierry Robin, R&D Director of iXblue's fiber optics division. It was therefore only natural to take part in the 3F2E project. We are delighted that the project has been selected by the French government as part of the recovery plan and that it supports technologies in this field of excellence. This support is essential and will enable us to accelerate our research and development to become autonomous in the design and qualification of coatings adapted to rad hard fibers for nuclear environments, and to promote this work for other harsh environments (space, power laser...)".

This project, supported by the major contractors and agencies in the nuclear industry, will set up an integrated French supply chain and guarantee national sovereignty over this strategic technology.