French Company Manufacturing & Commercializing Quantum Sensors Based on Laser-cooled Atoms

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash


The era when quantum gravimeters and atomic clocks can assist the development of quantum computers is already with us according to the French company Muquans (μquans), an industrial player whose focus is on high-precision quantum measurements and the manufacturing of specialized high-performance gravity sensing, time/frequency applications and laser solutions.

The company, founded in 2011 in Talence, a suburb of Bordeaux, a port city on the Bay of Biscay made famous for its stunning architecture and amazing wine, got its name from the μ (mu) symbol that in classical physics can stand for many things but in quantum physics represents the muon, an elementary subatomic particle similar to an electron but more than 200 times heavier. It has an electric charge of −1 e and a spin of 1/2 and is classified as a lepton. A relatively unstable particle, its lifetime is only 2.2 microseconds before decay.


But I’ve run away with myself with the quantum physics lesson. Let’s get back to Muquans, a company doing some amazing things in quantum information science. In the spring of this year, they signed a strategic partnership with Pasqal, a French QC startup set up in 2019 which specializes in building programmable quantum simulators and quantum computers made of 2D and 3D atomic arrays. Together, they will develop cutting-edge laser and control solutions. This effort, it is hoped, will propel the frontiers of QC technology to the next level.

Both parties, naturally, are gaining something from the agreement: Muquans by benefitting from Pasqal’s advanced computing and simulation capabilities while Pasqal will profit from Muquans’ industrial knowledge in quantum gravimeters and atomic clocks to speed up the development of Pasqal’s processors, resulting in quantum advantage for real-world, useful applications across many industries.

But what does Muquans actually build and who are the masterminds behind it?

The company’s scientific and technological IP is a spin-off from Observatoire de Paris (LNE-SYRTE) and Institut d’Optique (LP2N) in France. This long-term research effort, built in unison with the connections nurtured in the academic world over years, has seen Muquans gain more credibility in the industry.

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Muquans, led by its three founders Bruno Desruelle, Philippe Bouyer and Arnaud Landragin, has technological capabilities in the following areas:

 — Quantum Physics, atom cooling and trapping

 — Ultra-high vacuum

 — Laser and optical technologies,

 — Opto-mechanical assemblies

 — Microwave synthesis

 — Low noise electronics

 — System engineering

 — Real-time software and instrument supervision

 — Frequency transfer over optical links

An impressive skillset, no doubt, and one that covers all the bases.

CEO Bruno Desruelle gained his Ph.D. from the University Paris XI for his work on Bose-Einstein Condensation in Alain Aspect’s group. With industry experience in high-technology photonics at Corning Incorporated and at THALES Optronique in the development of several complex optronics systems, he is well fit to lead the company.


Philippe Bouyer is Muquans’ chief scientific advisor. Research director at CNRS and deputy director of the Institut d’Optique Graduate School in Bordeaux, he obtained his Ph.D. from the Paris-Sud University in physics while doing a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University after it, working on atom interferometer-based inertial sensor experiments.

Arnaud Landragin gained his doctorate in physics from the Institut d’Optique, where he researched the activities in atom interferometry during his post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University.

Muquans’ partnership with Pasqal will see how the Bordeaux-based company’s expertise in quantum inertial sensing etc can improve Pasqal’s chances of creating formidable quantum processors towards the goal of quantum advantage. Muquans and Pasqal will be ones to watch for the future.

James Dargan
James Dargan
James Dargan is a contributor at The Quantum Daily. His focus is on the QC startup ecosystem and he writes articles on the space that have a tone accessible to the average reader

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