Laboratory of excellence for innovation and development of performed sapphire – SaphirLab
In the field of sapphire, the Auvergne Rhône Alpe region with the iLM and RSA, is a land of excellence for the crystallization of sapphire. They have in common to work on the same product, the synthetic sapphire produced by different crystallization process. The crystallization sector of sapphire is a heavy industry and very competitive. RSA is a company mainly specialized in the manufacture of sapphire by the Verneuil process for the watch industry. In a context of exacerbated international competition, this sector is now facing the challenge of product innovation, the development of new processes and the improvement of sapphire performance. The stakes for having a significant place in the market are in improving productivity and innovation.
Faced with the demands of quality and industrial stakes of sapphire and, at the same time, ever decreasing costs, sapphire remains very dynamic in terms of R&D and innovation, for both traditional applications (watchmaking) than high added value. The need for high performance sapphire therefore remains very present for lasers, LED substrates, missile domes, portholes (defense) as well as for the upscaling of several families of dual devices (substrates and suspensions for gravitational waves detection). The historic markets of watch making are also very demanding of more efficient and innovative materials. In this field, expectations are very high, particularly on the growth of colored crystals and / or hardly produced. Indeed, obtaining colors by the addition of metal dopants will disturb the sapphire cell inducing internal defects. It will therefore be a question of developing and making reliable the production of sapphire using techniques other than those derived from the Verneuil process. The methods mainly considered are the Czochralski µ-PD, Kyroupolos and the EFG techniques. This pathway is likely to help RSA respond to the current challenges of the sapphire market by involving in new processes and developing HighTech products.
This project therefore meets the challenges of fundamental and industrial research issues and will focus on three main areas:
1- Productivity: the analysis and the understanding of the formation mechanisms of the internal defects (bubbles) in the sapphire produced by methods other than the Verneuil method or by the more recent technologies (EFG, µ-PD,Czochralski and Kyropoulos) will make the subject of an important theme of the activity of this Labcom;
2- Innovation: this axis will be devoted to the development and research of sapphire with innovative colors manufactured by the Czochralski method while controlling the crystalline quality of the material;
3- Diversification: finally a technological watch on the processes of manufacture of the ceramics will also be put in place;
This project aims to innovate technologically on all the stages of growing and characterization of sapphire and ceramics. It will enable the iLM and RSA to progress technologically and innovate. Their complementarity is a considerable asset, a real key to success. The two partners bring together essential assets that make it possible to formulate an innovative response to the issues of sapphire and ceramics.
The ambition of this project is to register in the long term:
In the immediate, the objective is to boost the research and development of sapphire by controlling growth by processes other than Verneuil as well as the defects characterization. Find competitive advantages in an international context of broad market opening.
In the medium term, the aim is to strengthen research on sapphire, ceramics and crystal growth.
In the long term, it must lead to a new industrial activity, through an innovative process.
Monsieur Kheirreddine Lebbou (Institut Lumière Matière)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
RSA le Rubis
ILM Institut Lumière Matière
Help of the ANR 362,964 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: June 2021 - 54 Months