iXblue Photonics inaugurates new site in Besançon


To always get the most out of light and stay ahead of the competition by proposing high-performance, innovative and reliable photonic solutions, iXblue has equipped its photonic business with a brand new 25,000 sq. ft. building in Besançon’s TEMIS Technopole, designed specifically for the development and manufacture of optronic components.

iXblue Photonics, the watchmakers of the Photon

Photline Technologies, incorporated into iXblue’s photonics business division in 2015, was founded in September 2000 on the basis of a technology transfer from the department of optics of FEMTO-ST, a research institute backed by Université de Franche Comté and the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research).

iXblue Photonics, which also has an industrial site based in Lannion, is one of the world leaders in ultra-high frequency optical modulation solutions and special optical fibers.  iXblue’s photonics business develops and produces solutions for markets ranging from fiber optic communications to fiber lasers and optical amplifiers, and from photonic sensors through to scientific and space research.

Photonics represents an emblematic activity for iXblue, which has opted for complete control over its value chain by developing and producing strategic proprietary optronic components which it integrates into its inertial systems.

By way of example, iXblue’s optronic components are present in the navigation systems installed on more than fifteen satellites orbiting the earth.


A brand new building to meet the most demanding technological requirements
“To keep our development moving and push on with new innovations, we wanted a new building that would match up to all the scientific, technological and ecological requirements we set ourselves. It is important for our employees to be able to imagine the photonics of tomorrow in a setting that has been thought out to project us into the future.” explains Henri Porte, Director of the iXblue photonics industrial center in Besançon.

The iXblue Photonics site in Besançon specializes in the manufacture of lithium niobate optical modulators for fiber optic systems. Its properties make it possible to transform an electric field into a light pulse attaining very high speeds, measured in picoseconds. Applications include ultra-fast optical telecommunications and digital data transmission, photonic sensors, and ultra-short optical pulse generation.

To ensure the optimal production cycle for these photonic microcomponents and their assembly in modulators, the dedicated new building implemented by iXblue had to meet very strict regulatory constraints. It comprises a 3,500 sq. ft. clean room (class 1,000, ISO 6 and 7) on the ground floor, as well as an ISO 8 production area over 4,000 sq. ft. of floor space.

All the construction technologies used are designed to ensure very low levels of energy consumption. The choice of a concrete envelope allows good insulation and maximum thermal inertia. Extremely fine regulation of the heating makes it possible to adapt the energy inputs according to the occupancy of the premises and their exposure. The double flow system ensures the recovery of 83% of the calories conveyed by the extracted air.

The latest innovations from iXblue Photonics in Besançon

Mastering all the basic bricks of a powerful modulation system, iXblue Photonics has for several years been able to offer a range of complex optoelectronic instruments called ModBox. This integrates modulators, amplifiers, Modulator Bias Controllers – MBCs, photo-detectors, signal generators and optical amplifiers into a single laser device. The assembly can be controlled by an especially adapted and reconfigurable human-machine interface.

Some examples of recent innovations from iXblue Photonics:

iXblue Photonics in figures:

  • € 10 million in sales in 2016.
  • 20% annual growth in revenue
  • 42 people employed in 2016 (versus 14 in 2006) at the Besançon site
  •  12 patents filed
  • 75% export sales