The "Unite Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales" (UMPhy), created in 1995, is a joint laboratory between CNRS and the industrial company Thales (previously Thomson-CSF). UMPhy is associated to University Paris-Sud 11 since 2000. The creation of UMPhy Lab followed a longstanding collaboration between Albert Fert’s team at University Paris-Sud and Alain Friederich’s physics group at Thomson-CSF’s Central Research Lab. This fruitful collaboration, initially centered on magnetic metal multilayers, led first of all to the discovery of the Giant Magnetoresistance effect (GMR) in 1988 whose major importance was recognized by the 2007 Physics Nobel prize. It is also considered as the birth of the field of spintronics with now major applications in everyday’s life. Since 1995, UMPhy is active in all major topics in the field of spintronics such as spin polarized tunneling, magnetic nanowires, spin injection in a variety of heterostructures based on metals, oxides, semiconductors, and spin transfer effects in nanodevices.
Initially centered on spintronics and nanomagnetism, the scientific activities at UMPhy were extended in 1996 to high-Tc superconductors (SHTC) with the arrival of Jean-Pierre Contour’s team from ESPCI, and then merged in 1998 with the Superconductive Devices group at Thomson-CSF Central Research Lab to facilitate the technological transfer of SHTC research to signal processing applications. More recently, to cope with the renewal of interest in oxides’ physics, a full research line on Functional Oxides was launched. UMPhy is also hosting since 2006 the hard X-ray lithography group of Stephan Megtert previously located at the LURE synchrotron laboratory.
Beside the motivation of exploring new fundamental routes, the mission of UMPhy is to propose and demonstrate innovative concepts of devices for medium and long term applications in the frame of signal processing and Beyond CMOS electronics.