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FOTON Institute

The FOTON Institute (Fonctions Optiques pour les Technologies de l'informatiON - UMR CNRS 6082) is a center of photonics for information technology.
FOTON Institute conducts research in photonics, which was primarily concerned with optical communications, and that is now covering applications as distinct as defense, life sciences, industry, or energy. This institute includes teams and staff from the University of Rennes 1, INSA Rennes, and the CNRS.


FOTON Institute director




FOTON / head of OHM team

Charles CORNET


FOTON Institute : UMR CNRS 6082 

The specificity of FOTON Institute is to gather three teams and three research platforms addressing a wide range of topics within the broad area of photonics, a Key-Enabling-Technology.

The research teams are:

  • Photonic systems (ENSSAT Lannion, University of Rennes 1)
  • Optoelectronics, Heteroepitaxy and Materials (“OHM”, INSA Rennes)
  • Laser Dynamics, micrOwave photonics, Polarimetry, terahertz, imaging (University of Rennes 1)



The OHM research team studies the elaboration, and the electro-optical/electronic properties of new materials, compounds and devices (mainly semiconductors) for photonics and photovoltaics. To this aim, the research team benefits from several facilities, spanning from molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) of nano- or heterostructures to clean room devices processing, and several skills by using modelling and the study of structural, optical, electrical, electro-optical or functional properties. Research activities then begin with the understanding of materials at the atomic level and ends with photonic or photovoltaic demonstrators. These activities correspond to four research axes of the FOTON institute. A brief description is given in the following:


Areas of research

Devices and functionalities for optical communications

The research team works on the development of laser sources with InP-based nanostructures (quantum wells, quantum wires or quantum dots). Both edge-emitting laser devices and surface emitting lasers (VCSELs) are being studied. Integration of both active and passive photonic III-V devices on silicon, via the GaP semiconductor, is also considered in order to use optical non-linearities on-chip, for optical interconnects or THz generation.

Innovative materials for photonics

The research team studies at the earliest stages the development of new materials and nanostructures for photonics and photovoltaics. Here, structural, electronic and optical properties of various materials are explored (e.g. hybrid perovskites, liquid crystals for photonics, carbon-based nanostructures, 2D or 3D materials, with or without quantum confinement). These studies allow assessing the potential of these materials toward their use in photonic and photovoltaic devices.

Tera-Hertz optics, optical sensors and coherent imaging

The OHM research team mainly develops here some vertical-emitting laser devices (being VCSELs or VECSELs) with InP-based quantum nanostructures for dual frequency lasing, frequency upscaling to the millimeter and THz domains, instrumentation or optical sensors. Middle infrared resonant microcavities are also fabricated for gas spectroscopy. Finally, in a prospective approach, GaP for THz generation is also studied.

Advanced concepts for Photovoltaics

The team works experimentally and theoretically for the development of new photovoltaic solar cells concepts. Especially, the very promising hybrid perovskites, a material of choice for tomorrow’s solar cells, are carefully studied within the research team. But other concepts such as III-V/Si solar cells or hot carriers solar cells, are also being developed experimentally and theoretically.

* In French