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“ Oysters

and the basin of Arcachon from every angle � Ocean Environnement and Paleoenvironnement UMR


The year 2007 saw the creation of a national consortium bringing together 150 researchers, focusing its work on the study of oysters and their natural environment. Around this work, the creation in Aquitaine of a multidisciplinary oceanographic centre in Arcachon itself is taking shape. Platform for teaching and experimental research, it will lead to an integrated approach to sea ecosystems.

ysters are sometimes disconcerting. In the basin of Arcachon, one could be led to believe that land related forms of pollution as well as those linked to water sports are the roots of most of the evils striking the bivalve mollusc. However, this generally accepted idea is regularly contradicted by ecotoxicologic tests, with results pointing out that oysters found inside the channels next to the Arguin Bank, not those grown in the basin, are the most prone to various forms of contamination. This state of affairs has led biologists and hydrologists, approached by the Regional Council on this issue, to focus their attention on a new assumption: contamination would be the work of microscopic organisms whose

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specificity is to proliferate in complex hydrodynamic structures featuring a little known biologic structure. Data collected in the Gulf of Gascony, along with modelling work, have already led to the assumption that said microorganisms could move from the Basque Country up to the mouth of the basin due to the Adour river plume. How do they get there and how do they propagate in the basin? These are the questions that scientists are now attempting to answer by using the Dinophysis microalgae, one of the toxic microorganisms best known by oyster farmers, as biological model. This promising work is one of the five stages in the study carried out by the consortium of researchers.

Ocean Environnement and Paleoenvironnement UMR [ EPOC ]

Existence of reference points The research consortium coordinated by Bordeaux 1 is also on a mission to further pinpoint the interaction between oysters and their environment, paint a full picture of contamination levels in the basin of Arcachon (by notably developing new sensors), and follow its long term evolution with regard to global warming. Initiative and financial support The Aquitaine Region finances 35 % of the 2.5 million euros needed for the research programme, including 468 000 € for equipement. The remainder comes courtesy of national and international programmes.It also helps finance the soon to come oceanographic centre by contributing 8 million euros part and parcel of the State Region Project Contract (Contrat de Projet État Région) 2007- 2013.

The Aquitaine oceanographic centre The purpose behind the project of an oceanographic centre in Arcachon itself is to transform the current Sea Resort, with its knowhow centred around biology, into an interdisciplinary centre of international stature bringing together biologists, physicists, chemists or biogeochimists currently scattered around Arcachon, Talence and Pau.

Ocean Environnements and Paleoenvironnements UMR Aquitaine Science and Universe Observatory University Bordeaux 1 Science and Technology CNRS Arcachon - ✆ 05 56 22 39 01 www.epoc.u-bordeaux.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

The Arcachon Sea Resort under extensive changes


“ Alzheimer

:

raising awareness on the pandemy � Epidemiology and Development Public Health Institute


Doctor, researcher in the field of neurology and professor in public health issues, Jean-François Dartigues, along with the teams he co-ordinates, brings his know-how towards finding a solution for Alzheimer’s disease. The ageing process pathology which he describes as a family disease, since its effects are disconcerting for the families and close friends of patients. n France, 850 000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, with 220 000 new cases every year. When published in 2005 by epidemiologists in Aquitaine, both these figures came as a shock, leading to the creation of the 2008 Alzheimer plan. The first figure, over twice as high as the number of cases collected by public health official sources, indicates that the disease is highly under-diagnosed, whereas the second, coupled with the increase in life expectancy, shows that people at risk will be on the up. These results were obtained by extrapolating from the PAQUID* survey carried out in Gironde and Dordogne on a population of 4 134 persons aged 65 in 1988 whose cerebral ageing has been meticulouly observed since that very year. In 2008, data collected

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by way of this study also enabled a team of neuropsychologists, clinicians, epidemiologists and biostatisticians, headed by Hélène Amiéva to draw up a chronology on the appearance of symptoms related to the patient’s perception and that of his or her circle of friends and family. Such work, never ever carried out anywhere in the world, and published in the prestigious journal the Annals of Neurology, should lead to improved prevention methods, more effective early detection but also identifying the disease’s evolution, and the most favourable stage to start treatment, notably the one during which the patient is aware of risks at stake whilst still being able to feel his or her condition is improving. *PAQUID : Personnes Âgées QUID ?

Epidemiology and Development Public Health Institute [ ISPED ] In search of a vaccine Two proteins present inside the brain are responsible for this disease: Tau proteins present in neurons and Beta amyloid proteins existing in their peripheral tissues. Destroyed and then poorly re-synthesized by the body, they cause the death of neurons. In its quest for a vaccine, the team headed by professor Dartigues has decided to focus its research work on the latter, “amyloid cascade” proteins. Inter-regional awareness raising In order to help the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, the Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées Regions are working on the development of a common centre regrouping the strong points specific to each region : neuroscience and epidemiology for the former, geriatrics and lage-scale clinical tests for the latter.

A 20-year support Very committed since launching PAQUID (The Elderly QUID ?), twenty years ago, the Region has invested approximately 1.5 million euros in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Fundamental and clinical research is one of the mainstays of the much anticipated Neurocampus.

Epidemiology and Development Public Health Institute Victor-Segalen University Bordeaux 2 Bordeaux - ✆ 05 57 57 13 93 www.isped.u-bordeaux2.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

From epidemiology to neurology


Any

life in our Galaxy? ” Bordeaux Astrophysics Laboratory


Bordeaux Astrophysics Laboratory [LAB]

Since 1995, approximately 300 planets have been discovered beyond the solar system. Astrophysicist Franck Selsis had anticipated this leap in scientific knowledge and had started to develop analysis tools combining the study of the atmosphere of exoplanets and that of Earth itself. The E3ARTHS* European programme should enable him to keep his lead.

Guiding telescopes Modelling the atmosphere of habitable planets, the work carried out by Franck Selsis is, among other things, used to, identify observation criteria to be taken into account for the development of telescopes such as the JWST, due to replace Hubble in 2013.

Researchers working on the E3ARTHS programme are studying this assumption by attempting to determine esential atmospheric and climatic conditions. To do so, Franck Selsis relies heavily on the discovery and study of newly discovered planets in other solar systems. On Earth, life process and plate tectonics have erased all traces of this long gone past and it may be easier to find elements for answers elsewhere in the galaxy. This is why the search for observation criteria for so-called habitable planets (with a mass and distance with regard to the star leading to the presence of surface water and consequently, the emergence of a life form) in the galaxy’s other solar systems is also a matter of priority for the E3ARTHS programme.

First surprises The first observations of exoplanets have brought their share of surprises, beginning with the existence of huge gaseous planets lying very close to their star. This configuration which was believed to be impossible has helped clear up the mystery around Jupiter’s formation, a distant planet which would have gradually moved closer to the sun.

or a long time, it was believed that Earth had remained uninhabitable due to lengthy meteor bombing the intensity of which would have diminished until the appearance of the first traces of life known to man, some 3.8 billion years ago. It is now believed that this cataclysm was a one-off and took place a long time after Earth’s formation, some 4.5 billion years ago, and that it could have been preceded by a period of peace and quiet covering over 500 million years during the course of which life was born. A species surviving those meteor attacks, and which could be one of these organisms discovered at the bottom of oceans and able to live in extreme conditions, would cconsequently represent the common root of our evolutionary tree.

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*E3ARTHS : Exoplanets and Early Earth Atmospheric Research : THeories & Simulation

A reactive approach The Region wasted no time in heping research work carried by Franck Selsis. As soon as he arrived in Bordeaux in 2008, the Region contributed 45 000 € towards a post doctorate position, which enabled this prize-winning scientist, courtesy of the Institut de France (Institute of France), to begin his work even before his project, highly rated by the European Research Council, was granted its initial European funds.

Bordeaux Astrophysics Laboratory Aquitaine Science and Universe Observatory CNRS University Bordeaux 1 Science and Technology Floirac - ✆ 05 57 77 61 00 www.obs.u-bordeaux1.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

Searching for exoplanets with a view to a better understanding of the origins of life on Earth


“ Diabetes:

faith in nanomedicine ”

Haut-Lévêque Hospital - Endocrinology and Diabetology Department


At a time when the number of people suffering from diabetes all around the world is regularly increasing, injecting insulin remains a highly restricting form of treament. Fully aware of this issue, the interdisciplinary team co-ordinated by professor Bogdan Catargi has focused its attention on two original leads to be followed.

ix times a day, before and after each meal, a patient suffering from diabetes must be informed of his or her sugar level by pricking the tip of his or her fingers. Moreover, four times a day, the same patient, suffering from type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent), must have insulin injections, the hormone which his or her pancreas no longer releases and is essential to the assimilation of sugar in the body. Since the day this disease was discovered, just over a century ago, insulin treatment is still carried out by way of injections. Several research programmes however lead us to believe in the discovery of less exacting treatment methods. Since 2007, the DELIVRER* programme, supported by the European authorities and co-ordinated by professor Bogdan Catargi, focuses its efforts on two major leads to be followed

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and underlying a shared idea: associating fine glycaemia assimilation with insulin controlled release. The first lead to be followed is the development of a nanogel made up of nanometricsized capsules able to contain insulin molecules and open - or shut - according to variations in blood sugar level. Once injected inside the body, the nanogel would be effective for over a week, thus bringing an end to multiple injections on a daily basis. The second lead to be followed, with the help of pancreatic cells, aims to develop a bio electronic sensor sensitive enough to act as a substitute for the use of injections in glycaemia control. In the end, the sensor could be coupled with a micro-electronic device controlling insulin release in the bloodstream. * DELivrance d’Insuline in Vivo Régulée et Rétrocontrôlée

Haut-Lévêque Hospital Endocrinology and Diabetology Department The key to interdisciplinarity It was the desire to assemble research teams who were never in contact with one another which led to the trails considered by the DELIVRER project. The project featuring biosensors has thus brought together bioelectronics specialists from the IMS, pancreas cell specialists from IECB, and researchers from the pharmacocinetics and clinical pharmaceutics Laboratory. In all, 7 partners (5 laboratories, a platform for biomedical innovation and a head of industry) have taken part in this project. A closely supported project Very much involved since the project started in 2005, the Region continued its support in 2007 by financing 87 000 €, towards the purchase of scientific equipement, including doctorate work for three years and post- doctorate work for two years, for 82 000 € and 90 000 € respectively. The FEDER funds amount to 260 000.

First results Are the nanocapsules that make up nanogels effective when confronted to the different physical and chemical parameters present in the human body ? Are they sufficiently “hermetic” when sugar level is normal? Since a year the project started, the long and meticulous work carried out by chemical engineers from the ENSCPB, has already brought promising answers, and has the been the subject of two international publications.

Haut-Lévêque Hospital Endocrinology and Diabetology Department Pessac - ✆ 05 57 65 68 40 www.chu-bordeaux.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

Two original leads to be followed for the treatment of diabetics


Improving medical treatment by mapping

heart cells ”

Haut-Lévêque Hospital - Electrophysiology And cardiac Simulation Département


Twenty years of detailed observation have enabled the international team headed by professor Haissaguerre to underline the electric sources – of an extremely localized nature – of atrial fibrillation, which is to say heart trouble linked to the chaotic acceleration of heart auricles or ventricles and find new therapeutic solutions for them.

n the monitor screen, three minute tubes move around inside a slightly snowy grey area, corresponding to he heart of a patient lying on the operating table. These are in fact three catheters controlled by the expert hand of the surgeon, one Pierre Jaïs. One by one, they will burn the cells responsible for the patient’s serious heart trouble. The latter has come over specially from Canada to undergo treatment at the Haut-Lévêque hospital in Pessac. He suffers from ventricular fibrillation, a bolting of ventricles, these two heart chambers essential to blood circulation inside the body. This malfunctioning is lethal if electric shock therapy is not applied to the heart in the three minutes following the onset of an attack.

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Most subjets suffering from ventricular fibrillation are struck from attacks far distant in time whereas others are struck by frequent attacks. As far as the former are concerned, implanting a pacemaker/defibrillator unit is often the solution. As far as the latter are concerned, their chances of survival were slim prior to the discovery by electrophysiologists in Pessac of the implication of Purkinje cells in the electric disorder leading to attacks, as well as a curative method leading to the identification and destruction of affected cells. A tailor-made operation, since localizing these cells may considerably vary from one patient to the next. So-called incurable patients may thus go back to a normal life.

Haut-Lévêque Hospital Electrophysiology and cardiac Simulation Département Providing an explanation for unexplained sudden death Preferably striking men in their mid-30’s, unexplained sudden death strikes 40 000 people in Europe every year. In 2008, a full study of electrocardiograms of people having survived unexplained sudden death has enabled the team headed by Michel Haissaguerre to solve part of the mystery by identifying a specific signal opening prospects for early detection and treatment. Support from Aquitaine The Aquitaine Region supports both the development and technology transfer of cardio-vascular imaging at the Xavier Arnozan Biomedical Innovation Technology Platform in the CPER 2000-2006 and 2007-2013. Its help will be asked in the creation of the fundamental electrophysiology laboratory, which will notably equiped with very high resolution “optical mapping” systems.

A laboratory to the rescue The “Heart Lungs Vessels Thrombosis” scientific community regrouped at the heart of the IFR 4 will, in 2009, be complete with the opening of a fundamental electrophysiology laboratory at Bordeaux 2 university. It will have a direct link with the clinical eletrophysiology department, enabling it to extend the scope of the discipline’s field of investigation and further improve the team’s international influence – the team itself is made up of researchers from many nationalities – at the Haut Lévêque hospital.

Haut-Lévêque Hospital Electrophysiology and cardiac Simulation Département Pessac - ✆ 05 57 65 65 65 www.chu-bordeaux.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

Electrophysiology at the heart of cardiology


“

Maths to the rescue in the fight against cancer � The French National Institut for Research in Computer Science and Control


The French Natioanl Institut for Research in Computer Science and Control [ INRIA ]

The MC2* team, featuring researchers from the Bordeaux South West Research Centre, is developing a platform featuring tools used in mathematics and computing, aimed at modelling the behaviour of all sorts of fluids in a quick and reliable way. Institut of Mathematics of Bordeaux (IMB) know-how brings the prospect of innovatory applications, notably in the field of medicine.

Modelling tumours Working with cancer specialists from the Bergonié Institute, researchers from the MC2 team have modelled tumour development. The model is due for approval and doctors are already dreaming of inserting their patients’ tests in oder to obtain real time evolution forecasts.

n the same way a landscape artist sums up what he or she sees with a touch of brushwork, researchers from the MC2 team use equations and algorithms to describe the discharge of simple fluids like air and water or so-called “complex” fluids like blood and other biological fluids and liquid products used in the agribusiness or chemical industry. The “complexity” of these types of fluids comes from the fact that they are loaded with micro-elements, such as red corpsuscles, cells or polymers of a less than one millimetre size which keep on interacting on a chemical, biological and mechanical level. This vitality makes their behaviour difficult to forecast. Since each fluid is different, all modelling work calls for the understanding

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and transfer into equations of specific forms of interaction which may however be common to different categories of fluids. Hence the idea of developing a platform handling the major laws of physics as well as previously distinguised forms of interaction leading to an always quicker and more reliable analysis of new fluids. And in the end, with modelling work tried and tested on common situations, the chance of anticipating the system’s development by varying chosen parameters. A prospect which medical research has not left aside, since it is very difficult for the latter to carry out experiments on man and is also aware of the limits of in vitro observation. * MC2 : Modélisation, contrôle et calcul

The basic tool Partial derived equations are the basic tools for modelling forms of interaction observed in complex fluids, simple fluids featuring obstacles, or between fluids themselves.

120 processors The platform developed by IMB and INRIA will feature a new calculating machine equiped with 120 processors, with a 180 000 € cost, partly financed by the Aquitaine Region.

The French National Institut for Research in Computer Science and Control Research Center Bordeaux - South-West Équipe MC2 (IMB, University Bordeaux 1 Science and Technology) Talence - ✆ 05 24 57 40 30 www.inria.fr/bordeaux

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

A platform for the analysis of fluids


“ Moroccan mandible

Progress for prehistory thanks to

the

�

From Prehistory to Today: Culture, Environment and Anthropology UMR


With the coming of the first hominids, 7 million years ago and that of Homo sapiens some 200 000 years ago, the prehistoric age is so long and the traces of this period so rare that each discovery brings its share of revelations and theories. The Homo erectus mandible excavated in Casablanca by a Franco-Moroccan team is no exception to the rule. iscoveries may all be a case of hit or miss. Since May 2008, tired of chipping away at rocks and stones with their chisels on a very tough surface they had been working on for several years, workmen at the Thomas quarry, located in the suburbs of Casablanca, asked if they could move on to another geological level. Jean-Paul Raynal, co-ordinator for the “Origins” programme, had first agreed, but then changed his mind. A few days later, a mandible belonging to a Homo erectus was discovered. Since the start of excavation work in 1988 and the discovery of half a mandible twenty years earlier when the location used to be a quarry, only four approximately 500 000 year old human teeth had been discovered. The discovery of this mandible led to drawing

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up the morphologic diversity of the Homo erectus group that lived in the far north-west of Africa, Homo mauritanicus, defined in 1954 following remains discovered in Algeria. Even better, the mandible discovered on the Thomas quarry was similar to the one discovered in Atapuerca, in the north of Spain. This opens a new theoretical outlook on the populating of the Iberian Peninsula. Does the European Homo erectus come from Asia as certain people claim, or from Africa via the Middle East, or else did he find a shorter way via North Africa? Excavation work carried out in Auvergne, Ethiopia or Bulgaria on geological stratums dating back to the same period will probably enable Jean-Paul Raynal to bring other elements to this answer.

From Prehistory to Today: Culture, Environment and Anthropology UMR [ PACEA ] Achulean The teams working on the “Origins” programme give priority to the exploration of strata dating back to 1.6 and 0.2 million years, Which is to say the period in Africa during which a form of technical culture appeared, characte rized by the use of large chips of sharp rocks and stones (“cleavers” and “bifaces”). A worldbeater for Morocco Moroccan prehistory specialists from the National Institute of Science, Archeology and Heritage shared their excitement at the discovery of the finest ancient human fossil discovered thanks to rigorous excavation work carried out in their homeland. As a result, the Thomas quarry has become one of the major prehistoric sites in the Maghreb countries.

A winning campaign Exploring the most ancient periods in the history of man calls for financial means and time. Support by the Aquitaine Region to the excavation work carried out in the Thomas quarry contributed to this discovery. Origine, the initial project, carried out between 2004 and 2007, was thus granted a financial help of 269 000 €. As for the Origi ne II project, in 2008, it was granted a financial help of 100 000 €, completed by research allowances (thesis and post-doctorate).

From Prehistory to Today: Culture, Environment and Anthropology UMR CNRS - University Bordeaux 1 Science and Technology Équipe IPGQ Talence - ✆ 05 40 00 88 91 www.pacea.u-bordeaux1.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

Science and patience: the keys to a discovery


“ neuroscience

Foreign scientists attracted by the

vitality of

in Aquitaine ”

François-Magendie Neurocentre


She is an Italian doctor interested in the hypothalamus in order to understand the causes of obesity. He is a German biologist studying the fragile X syndrome in order to understand how neuronal wiring operates inside the neocortex. They have both decided to set up their laboratory inside Inserm’s François Magendie neurocentre. oung and talented researchers, Daniela Cota and Andreas Frick both used to live in the United States not so long ago. Ready to open a laboratory, they were both looking for an opportunity to return to Europe. The prerequisite for their return was obtaining a budget, equipement and sufficient qualified staff needed to continue their groundbreaking work. Among proposals coming from Italy, Germany, England or France, they finally opted for the one emanating from the Magendie Neuro centre which won them over both because of the financial means at disposal and the options of an interdisciplinary nature on offer. As a woman doctor who unintentionnaly ventured into the field of research work, Daniela Cota works on how brain cells are involved in the existence of obesity and the various examples

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of pathology that go with it: type 2 diabetes and cardio-vascular diseases. Amongst the opportunities offered by the Institute, she particularly appreciated the interface contract (quest for therapeutic applications with regard to fundamental research) enabling her to share hypotheses and data with a group of doctors from the Bordeaux hospitals. The biologist Andreas Frick, who has made considerable headway on the study of neuronal wiring inside the neocortex, the outer layer of the cerebral hemispheres involved in the perception of language or memory, notably works on the way how dendrites, the branched projections at the extremity of neurons – not just synapses any more, are able to modify their contact points. Andréas, for one, was highly impressed by the vitality of the Institute and its researchers.

François-Magendie Neurocentre

The fragile X syndrome This refers to the Fmrl, a gene found in chromosome X, with a form of malfunction notably leading to cognitive and hypersensitivity disorder as well as autism. This gene is however involved in exchange regulation between neurons and its dendrites. An dreas Frick hopes that his work will both lead to a better understanding of a normal operating model and therapeutic solutions. Looking ahead to Neurocampus Initiated by the Regional Council, with Bordeaux 2 University, Inserm and the CHU as partners, the Neurocampus project aims to equip the Aquitaine region with a scientific and residential estate dedicated to neuroscience, relying on the international impact of the scientific community. It will bring together three new research centres, one of which will be dedicated to treatment

research for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease. Ultra-specific equipment The Aquitaine Region intends to encourage a promising start for research work carried out by talented young researchers recently new to the region, among them Daniela and Andreas. In this respect, it contributes to the purchase of highly sophisticated equipment (a 400000€contribution in 2008) and also lends a hand to the organization and running of research teams (a 200 000 € contribution).

François-Magendie Neurocentre INSERM Bordeaux - ✆ 05 57 57 36 00 http://mcst.free.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

Financial means and an attractive scientific environment


“

Learning how to

talk to molecules � Molecular Science Institute


If the 20th century belonged to the electron and electronics, the 21st century may belong to the photon. Nathan McClenaghan, host of the COMMOTION* European project at the heart of Molecular Science Institut’s Néo team casts no doubt on this: thanks to stimulation by light, nanoscopic-sized molecules will be used to convey information. he idea developed by COMMOTION is part of the acknowledgement that in certain parts of the human body, such as the eye, a stimulus by light may give rise to a transfer of information to the brain thanks to communication between molecular systems. It is a known fact that conveying information between molecules, by electron transfer or electro-magnetic coupling can today be achieved. Yet these methods seem to have reached their limit. In the case of electrons one can, for example, witness an energy loss leading to a rapid weakening of signals. Researchers from the Néo team have borrowed the concept of stimulus by light from nature and developed strategies for the transport of information: a luminous

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signal aimed at a specific molecule leads to the ejection of an ion travelling from one molecule to the next. The ion acts as messenger and its transmission does not lead to considerable energy loss. This trick used by the human body, as is the case with large molecules, may be incredibly miniaturized thanks to the headway made by chemical engineering and its inventory of polymers, nanocapsules and nanotubes. Thanks also to laser performance which may now illuminate minute-sized bodies. Beyond mere data transport, researchers strive to create interactive networks similar to basic microprocessors, whilst being able to operate in biological circles.

*COMMOTION : Communication Between Functional Molecules Using Photocontrolled Ions

Molecular Science Institute [ ISM ]

The therapeutic path The COMMOTION programme also wishes to explore the interactive possibilities of its information system with the biological process in order to bring reliable and quick medical diagnoses but also lead to in vivo treatment – by, for example, controlling the behaviour of a cellular membrane with light. Light and its assets The properties of light enable it to envisage highly efficient information systems. On the one hand, with the help of today’s lasers, signal emission lasting several million nanoseconds has now been achieved for some years, and on the other hand the breakdown of its spectrum into multiple wavelengths enables the simultaneous transfer of several messages.

From head to toe In order to be fully operational, the COMMOTION programme, held in high esteem by the European Research Council, is dependent on extremely fine photophysics tools used, for example, to measure the fading of fluorescence in the surrounding infrared. The Aquitaine Region has contributed 390 000 € towards the purchase of such equipement as well as a thesis grant (95000 € over a 3-year period).

Molecular Science Institute CNRS - University Bordeaux 1 Science and Technology Talence - ✆ 05 40 00 33 21 www.ism.u-bordeaux1.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

A language stimulated by light


“ 7 million billion watts

for controlled nuclear fusion �

Atomic energy commissionership - Aquitaine scientific and technical research centre


In 2012, when the CEA (Atomic Energy Commissionership) will have completed the PETAL mono laser beam (PETawatt Aquitaine Laser) the latter will be able to focus on a micron-size target with sevenpetawatts of power, which is to say seven million billion high energy watts. Seven times more than today’s most high-performance tool !

metres long and plunged in a controlled environment, the building hosting the soon to come PETAL laser is already with us: it today hosts the Laser Integration Line (Ligne d’Intégration Laser) also known as LIL (an eight luminous beam laser, prototype of a 240 intense energy laser beam, the Megajoule laser). Nothing is wasted when it comes to lasers. Be it field experience, or equip ment. The PETAL, featuring just one beam, will be set up next to the LIL and with its spatial, spectral and temporal specifications finally set, will benefit from the same line of optical equipment destined to load the luminous signal with energy and then focus on a target confined inside a microsphere of the size a fraction of millimetres. The specificity

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of the PETAL laser is its luminous impulse, 10 000 times shorter than that of LIL, increasing its power in the same ratio and calling for specific equipement upstream and downstream of the laser amplification chain – which, would otherwise be destroyed. The impulse is thus artificially stretched out and, just before hitting its target, is compressed once again. The major avantage of being close to the LIL is that the nine beams will operate simultaneously in order to create extreme pressure and temperature conditions similar to those needed to activate controlled nuclear fusion. Beyond this energy Graal, models used in astrophysics, geophysics and fundamental physics will be tested by researchers.

Atomic energy commissionership [ CEA - Cesta ]

Inertial confinement fusion The LIL’s experiment chamber resembles a Sputnik: a big metal ball covered with knobs looking like windows. Inside it, a 500 micron plastic shell on which the laser will release enough energy to vaporize it. Vaporization is used to generate substantial pressure on the container, light atoms for fusion purposes. The HiPER project Aquitaine’s Petawatt laser is part of the HiPER European project, with the objective of achieving controlled nuclear fusion through inertial confinement (destined to produce energy without emitting long lasting radioactive waste) by using an association similar to that of the LIL and PETAL, the power of the latter acting as a match starting fusion mechanisms. Experiments carried out on PETAL will lead to sizing of HiPER equipment, due for completion around the year 2020.

Project management As project contracting manager, the Aquitaine Region has committed itself support the PETAL towards a global operating budget costing 50 million euros. The opening phase was successfully completed in 2008, and the project will be operational around the year 2012.

Atomic energy commissionership Aquitaine scientific and technical research centre F-33114 Le Barp www.cea.fr

MADE IN Aquitaine research 10 portraits of research - Édition 2008

Cap Sciences publication - Editing: Donatien Garnier - Translation: Emmanuel Potts - Photos: Frédéric Desmesure - Graphic design and réalisation: Lisa Morand

The most powerful high energy laser beam in the world


made in aquitaine (2008) - english version