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“There are many challenges in society that photonics can solve. This is the fascinating part of our job, always renewing with new challenges coming on”.

Yves Hernandez
Multitel

Please, tell us about your professional background and your present job.

I am a researcher at MULTITEL, in charge of the Applied Photonics Department, and currently working for MULTITEL since 2003 now. I was first in charge of the development of the fibre laser activity and developed a specific research group in the center on this topic. Then I took the responsibility of the whole department covering the fibre laser, fibre sensors, bio-sensors, micro machining and terahertz activities. 

Before joining MULTITEL I worked for Alcatel Optronics in Paris, on the field of reliability of semiconductor indium phosphide laser diodes. I was in charge of a team of technicians carrying on long term reliability tests on new designs of laser diodes. 

The reason why I was recruited by Alcatel was because I completed a PhD thesis on indium-phosphide opto-electronic components design and fabrication. I performed this work at the center IEMN (Institut d’Electronique, Microelectronique et Nanotechnologies) jointly with Thales Airborne Systems and the support of the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement), in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France. 

So I started my professional career on semiconductor opto-electronics and I am pursuing it in fibre optics and photonics with the same interest and enthusiasm. 

When did you decide to dedicate to scientific research?

I think I was always attracted by research. Before joining University, I was wondering what would be the better option: staying at University until making my PhD thesis and maybe continuing teaching and doing science or integrating an Engineer school like a lot exist in France in order to work in Industry with the risk of being more far from research. 

I finally did both. I studied a master in Physics at University of Marseille that I really appreciated. I remember doing my internship with Professor André Ghorayeb on supra conductor alloys and was determined that this was the kind of things I wished to do. 

Before going for the PhD, I integrated and engineer school, Polytech Lille, in order to have more options (in my opinion) after my studies, to stay in University of go to industry. I decided to carry on my last year internship abroad and did it in the University of Aveiro. Again, an amazing experience reinforcing the feeling that I wanted to be part of this world. 

Finally, before starting my PhD, I had another interesting experience, at IEMN, with Professors Chapoton and Lmimouni on Organic Electroluminescent diode that decided me on the topic I wanted to work on: Photonics. 

I did my PhD with fantastic supervisors, like Pr. Decoster and Vilcot, and after three intensive learning years decided to join industry. I was sure of two things after my education: I wanted to continue doing applied research in optics, and I was not made for teaching. 

The position I have at MULTITEL matches perfectly my expectations. 

In your opinion, which are the most exciting challenges to come in your field?

There are many challenges in my field, in particular if we consider that we are active in fibre lasers where the main challenges are always to increase in fibre ultrashort pulses energy; micro-machining for which new concepts for increasing productivity with optimal performances are continuously investigated; biosensors always looking for more integration and multiplexing for point of care applications; terahertz imaging and spectroscopy, often facing limitations related to speed of measurement and cost… 

And there are many other challenges in society that photonics can solve. This is the fascinating part of our job, always renewing with new challenges coming on. 

Multipoint is a research project funded by the European Union. Have you ever participated in more projects funded by the EU? How do you evaluate them?

The first experience with European commission was the project OFSETH on optical fibre sensors, in 2006. Since this experience, I participated to various European projects as partner or coordinator: Nextgenpcf, Sabio, Improv, Charming, Lanir, Enviguard… Laser4surf, Essial and Multipoint. 

I have positive memories of each collaboration. All projects have been first the opportunity to know better what other laboratories are doing in Europe and then strengthen the collaboration between us. We learned from all projects and in some of them the collaboration continued either from a scientific or a commercial point of view. 

We expect the same from Multipoint.