The SUBATECH laboratory is a joint research unit (UMR 6457) under the triple supervision of the Institut Mines-Télécom through its school, IMT Atlantique, the University of Nantes and the CNRS with the National Institute of Nuclear Physics and Particle Physics (IN2P3) as the main institute and the National Institute of Chemistry as a secondary institute.
Fully integrated in major worldwide scientific collaborations, Subatech's research activities revolve around the fields of nuclear, hadronic, particle and astroparticle physics and radiochemistry. Subatech carries out both fundamental and applied research in the fields of energy, the environment and health. The mastery of technologies associated with these fields is a key factor for the success of the laboratory's projects.
Subatech contributes to the socio-economic development thanks to a finalised research and valorisation strategy, whether it be industrial chairs, technology transfers, the creation of a company by laboratory members or the co-financing of doctoral theses with the industrial world.
The SUBATECH laboratory is located on the Nantes campus of IMT Atlantique (campus access) in the Chantrerie site.
The 4 thematic axes of the laboratory are : The Two Infinites, Nuclear for Health, Nuclear for Energy and the Environment, and Technologies Associated with Subatomic Physics.
Nuclear for Health
Directed and finalised research in the field of health is an integral part of Subatech's research activities. This research is divided into 4 sub-axes. The first concerns the applications of subatomic physics detection techniques to the field of therapy and medical imaging. Our flagship project in this field is the Xemis project, which has made it possible to design and build a prototype imager by positron emission and γ (3-photon imaging) for small animals. The second sub-axis is the study and optimisation of the production of innovative radionuclides for health (RAMI master-project) notably the production of scandium, whose 44Sc radionuclide is a positon-gamma emitter for 3-photon medical imaging, or the production of 211At, potentially suitable for cancer treatment (ANR REPARE project). These master-projects include the production of radionuclides, the measurement of effective cross-sections, and participation in the CERN MEDICIS collaboration. The third sub-axis is the study of the chemical properties of radionuclides for Health and the development of radiopharmaceutical complexes for its biodistribution, in particular 44Sc and 211At (Radionuclides-Health master-project). Finally, we also have a strong contribution in radiobiology applications, via the platform for irradiation of small animals (Hadron-Biology master-project) with FLASH, and the development of techniques unique in France for pulsed radiolysis (Radiolysis-Health master-project). We note, for this axis, a very strong interdisciplinary component, concretised in particular by an involvement in the GIP ARRONAX and the TransForMed cluster of the "health of the future" axis of the PIA2 NExT project.
The Two Infinite
The Subatech teams are involved in fundamental research in subatomic physics, research piloted by IN2P3 of the CNRS on a national scale. This research often requires the collaboration of several laboratories and several countries worldwide. The international visibility of our laboratory is a key objective and we contribute with our know-how to major collaborations in the field. Since 1996, we have been participating in the ALICE Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment at CERN (Geneva) with the ultimate goal of studying the properties of matter at very high temperatures - a few trillion kelvin - above the transition temperature to deconfined matter called the plasma of quarks and gluons. This research is complemented by an important activity of our laboratory in strong interaction theory, in the fields of quantum chromodynamics, heavy flavors, phenomenological calculations and the development of software for numerical simulations of heavy ion collisions, structured by the EPOS-HQ project and the ANR COLDLOSS project. In this field of research, we coordinate the European project STRONG-2020, a structured initiative. We participate in the international collaborations Double Chooz, SoLiD and JUNO which aim to study the properties of neutrinos in nuclear reactors, with a unique know-how in detection techniques and numerical simulation of these reactors and calculations of antineutrino energy spectra based on our nuclear physics measurements in the international collaboration TAGS. With TAGS, the e-Shape project and the future (NA2)STARS project, we are interested in the beta decay properties of nuclei through experiments at the Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä, which touch upon neutrinos as well as the physics of the nucleus and the nucleosynthesis of elements in the universe. We have joined the international KM3NeT collaboration with the objective of detecting extra-galactic neutrinos produced by violent phenomena in the Universe and correlating them with other messengers. We have a strong and pioneering contribution in France for the direct research of dark matter with the international collaboration Xenon whose successive detection devices (XENON100, XENON1T and soon XENONnT) have been installed at the Gran Sasso laboratory in Italy. We have developed the EXTASIS project until 2019 with the objective of detecting atmospheric cosmic ray sheaves by detecting the radio waves generated by these sheaves. Finally, we have projects in the field of ab-initio calculations of the fundamental chemical properties of radionuclides (RCT project).
Nuclear for Energy and the Environment
The first sub-axis concerns materials for nuclear power, the nuclear fuel cycle, radioactive waste disposal and the migration of radionuclides either into the environment or into solids such as glass, concrete and geological substrates. It is an activity organised within the scope of two IN2P3 master-projects: i) "Materials" on the themes of cements, glasses and materials containing zirconium and ii) "Radionuclides and the environment" studying natural (TE)-NORM or anthropogenic radionuclides as well as geological barriers against the migration of these radionuclides. Ensuring very high visibility, and even national and international leadership, the work is carried out in the context of a chair with Andra, ORANO and EDF, or in European projects such as EURAD and PREDIS and the RETENTION, TIRAMISU, UTOPIA, and STOL projects in collaboration with other regional or national units such as OSUNA, LPG, or ZATU and international collaborations around the consequences of the Fukushima accident in Japan. Finally, in this first sub-axis, Subatech is developing projects within the framework of two other cross-cutting master-projects that address the issue of theoretical modelling and radiolysis phenomena. Subatech's SMART platform provides a radioactivity measurement service for industrial partners, associations and local authorities; it holds 47 ASN accreditations, an accreditation from the Ministry of Health, allowing radiological measurements to be carried out on water intended for human consumption, and COFRAC accreditation.
The second sub-field concerns the physics and simulation of nuclear reactors with two complementary approaches: i) The combination of our strong involvement in the TAGS collaboration to study the properties of radionuclides produced in reactors, our expertise in reactor simulation inherited from the developments carried out for Double Chooz, Nucifer and Solid and now applied to the new generations of reactors, with our summation calculations gives us a world-renowned expertise for calculations associated with antineutrinos (non-proliferation), residual power and delayed neutrons (safety) of nuclear reactors (European projects and master-projects SANDA and SAMOSAFER, NEEDS projects NACRE and SUDEC, collaborations with IAEA, NEA and JEFF, Master-projects TAGS and OPALE) with the Accelerator Laboratory of the University of Jyväskylä ii) the other approach, the interdisciplinary study of nuclear scenarios at the scale of a nation in interaction with other disciplines such as sociology or economics, via the MOISE project.
The detection of ionising particles is the technology par excellence of subatomic physics and Subatech, like most of the IN2P3 laboratories, masters the technologies of gas, semiconductor and scintillation detectors. The realization of detection systems for international collaborations has enabled Subatech to acquire know-how in the integration of detection systems within large-scale multi-detector experiments, and all associated services: high and low voltage power supply, cooling, remote control, etc. The management of interfaces in these experimental projects and a quality approach at the level of an industrial production are requirements that are perfectly mastered by Subatech. The ALICE, Double Chooz, SoLiD, KM3NeT, JUNO, e-SHAPE projects make use of this specific Subatech know-how.
Among the new detection techniques, Subatech has a mastery, unique in France and rare in the world, of the technology of detectors based on liquid xenon and the auxiliary elements to these detectors such as the purification system, cooling, and the design and production of the adapted reading electronics. These are the Xenon and XEMIS projects. We participate in R&D for the design of new detection techniques for dark matter and rare decay (Xenon, SPHERE and DAMIC-M projects) and for the detection of neutrinos (future LiquidO project).
The radiochemistry laboratory is a unique facility at regional and national level for the study of materials for nuclear energy, the study of radionuclides in the environment and for health, the effects of radiation (radiolysis) and through its mastery of ultra-trace techniques.
Within the framework of the IRMA master-project, we have developed know-how in ion beam analysis (IBA) and analysis by PIGE and PIXE techniques.
The development of software for theoretical modelling in hadronics physics, reconstruction of raw data, detector simulation and physics analysis, as well as the analysis of large amounts of data and the deployment of distributed computing within the framework of the LCG project (ALICE-Tier2 project) are technologies that are present at Subatech.
These activities attract external actors to valorise our results, thus contributing to the transfer of the knowledge produced in the laboratory in a form that can be used for the production of goods or services.