A Grenoble laboratory created in a Japanese university

How did the idea of ​​creating the French J-Fast laboratory at the University of Tsukuba come about?

Since 1997 we have had quite strong collaborations with this university. In 2015 we created a first laboratory funded exclusively by Japan. There we are creating a laboratory funded by the CNRS, the UGA and the University of Tsukuba, with the significant contribution also of Air Liquide.

What is the advantage of setting up a French laboratory in Japan?

This French laboratory was created on 1uh January in Tsukuba. As it remains a French laboratory, you can apply for national funding from the National Research Agency (NRA), the region or Europe, like any French laboratory. This will allow us to offer scientific solutions that make the most of the support teams from Tsukuba and Grenoble and to have a more relevant response to a European call for tenders than if we were simply a team from Grenoble.

Etienne Gheeraert, president of the Grenoble-Tsukuba strategic committee. © Thomas Richardson

What is the meaning of the name of the J-Fast laboratory?

There was a feeling that we later dropped out because it sounded too political. Today, it stands for Japanese French Laboratory for Semiconductor, Physics and Technology. We liked the JF for Japanese – French. Many Franco-Japanese labs start with JF and J-Fast to say “let’s go!” “.

Who is currently working in this laboratory?

For now, there are more Japanese people involved. There are only three Frenchmen there. But it will gradually grow.

Are these French from the CNRS and the UGA?

Yes. We have to understand the UGA in a broad sense because it includes the CEA, the Inserm, etc. It is actually the Grenoble site.

Is the object of the research of this laboratory related to microelectronics?

The heart is microelectronics, with new processes to produce new smaller, more efficient, more energy efficient components … It is on these aspects that Air Liquide is a partner. Then, we have thematically close activities, such as studies on spintronics, magnetism, photovoltaics … There is a third circle with more exploratory collaborations on astrophysics, biomaterials, chemistry …

There will always be French people in Tsukuba. There are many exchanges and when we send a student there he is not lost. We have our own office marked with Grenoble. We have a bilingual secretary. From the moment we reach a critical mass, everything is simpler.

An office of the University of Tsukuba at the UGA

What is the budget for this lab?

We will be operating at € 250,000 per year plus doctoral students’ salaries. The large room of the laboratory had already been set up in 2016, with a machine worth around 300,000 euros donated by Air Liquide to be able to start researching very quickly.

Did you have to postpone the project due to the Covid emergency?

The workshop started in 2016 with the Japanese. Since 2017 we have told ourselves that we had to do something with the CNRS. It took time with Covid.

Can we imagine setting up a workshop in Grenoble to mirror Tsubuka’s J-Fast?

Yes, it is happening. There are international robotics research labs that have a mirror in France to welcome the Japanese. We have just opened an office for Tsukuba University at UGA. This will facilitate administrative procedures and promote students.

Rely on student exchanges

How many students can be accommodated at Tsukuba University?

Before the Covid crisis, we had nine double degrees at master’s level. With students who have come for an internship, this could reach 25 French students. This is what we would like to find today. This is also the strength of the laboratory: to rely on student exchanges. Tsukuba is an interesting city. It was created on rice paddies in 1973 to relieve congestion in Tokyo. An architect designed the city of his dreams.

How many students are there in Tsukuba compared to Grenoble?

30,000 while at UGA there are 55,000. There are many companies and research centers in Tsukuba.

Does the University of Tsukuba work with other French cities besides Grenoble?

Yes, with Bordeaux being more focused on biology and health. There is a good complementarity with us.

UGA and CNRS partner for six years of a common scientific policy

On Friday 24 June, Antoine Petit, CEO of the CNRS and Yassine Lakhnech, President of the UGA signed a partnership agreement that commits the two institutions for a period of six years to conduct a common scientific policy within 70 joint research units. shared or support. Six thematic research centers are involved: Social Sciences; human and social sciences; Sciences and technologies of mathematics, information and communication; Chemistry, biology, health; Particle physics, astrophysics, geosciences, environment, ecology; and finally physics, engineering, materials.

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