Scientific equipment

The process of striving to achieve excellence in a number of disciplines depends to a large extent on the type of equipment available to scientists.


Physics, chemistry, biology, science of the universe, environmental science, engineering science and human and social sciences all require the highest international levels of instrument, animal and analysis platforms and scientific computation equipment.

IDEX chooses to encourage dialogue with regard to needs, sharing means and pooling both human and financial resources. For this purpose we have established an Equipment forecast committee at Toulouse University to coordinate consultation between potential co-funders, research organisations and regional and local authorities. In order to be eligible, proposed projects must have at least 50% co-funding from partners.

IDEX Equipment forecast

IDEX has funded the scientific equipment forecast to the tune of €5.1 million, bringing co-funding up to €13 million.

2015 Forecast

Section two of the Equipment programme began at the beginning of autumn 2014.  The scientific equipment forecasting work is assigned to research unit managers and to the vice-presidents of research committees by major scientific sectors. It lasts until the beginning of February 2015. A review was then conducted of the needs expressed on the basis of this work by the IDEX Forecast Committee which held hearings with all project initiators. On conclusion of these hearings, the Forecast Committee put forward a list of equipment to be funded. This list was discussed at a meeting of the Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées Bureau before being submitted to the Board for funding.

The forecasting work was coordinated between the six research coordination departments under the responsibility of the reference person at the following centres:

  • Materials Science: laurentatchimie [dot] ups-tlse [dot] fr (Christophe Laurent )
  • Mathematics, Science and Information and Engineering Technology: bahsounatirit [dot] fr (Jean-Paul Bahsoun)
  • Humanities, Human and Social Sciences: florent [dot] hautefeuilleatuniv-tlse2 [dot] fr (Florent Hautefeuille)
  • Life Science: louis [dot] casteillaatinserm [dot] fr (Louis Casteilla) and pierre [dot] soleratobs-mip [dot] fr (Bernard Frances)
  • Universe, Planet, Space and Environment: pierre [dot] soleratobs-mip [dot] fr (Pierre Soler)
  • Law, Political Science, Economics and Management: Bruno [dot] Sireatut-capitole [dot] fr (Bruno Sire)

2014 Forecast

The IDEX UNITI Equipment programme has a funding allocation of €5.1 million. The first section of the Equipment programme was implemented in autumn 2013:  a survey of needs was organised by the Equipment Forecast Committee during the preparation of the State-Region Plan Agreement. This identification and selection phase was concluded in the spring of 2014. The funding decision for the six selected projects was taken by the Board of the Federal University of Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées.


Numerous items of equipment funded under IDEX-Equipment are provided to support the three shared bodies under the supervision of the Federal University.

Centre for Human Sciences and the Toulouse Society


The Centre for Human Sciences and the Toulouse Society was established in 1999. This centre has been a service and research unit since 2011. It is associated with the Institute of Human and Social Sciences (InSHS) at CNRS and links CNRS to the Federal University of Toulouse (on behalf of three universities in Toulouse and the Institute of Political Studies).

A member of the GIS Réseau national des Maisons des Sciences de l’Homme (RNMSH - National Network of Human Science Centres), the Centre for Human Sciences and the Toulouse Society complies with the Network Charter and strongly encourages links between human science centres through its programme.

The Centre for Human Sciences and the Toulouse Society includes 27 research units located on the sites of the three universities in Toulouse. It provides financial support for about sixty scientific projects per year (91 since 2011) and contributes to the operation of nine technical platforms. With regard to one of its platforms, it is the subject of a partnership with the only joint human and social science laboratory funded by the ANR LabCom programme.

The science programme of the Centre for Human Sciences and the Toulouse Society, monitored by an international scientific board, unites 25 research laboratories in Toulouse. This programme is rooted in strictly interdisciplinary research on societal issues (human and social sciences, economics, natural and experimental science). In particular it is based on supporting and sharing technological or virtual platforms:

  • "Cognition, Behaviour and Customs – CCU" technical platform: The "Cognition, Behaviour and Customs" centre unites three technical platforms for collecting physiological or behavioural data in complex situations.
  • "Archaeology and Spatial Data" technical platform: This platform has or is currently acquiring a series of tools providing a broad range of archaeological data, both for archaeological exploration and excavation and for the archaeology of buildings.
  • Support for the two VLRIs (Very Large Research Instruments)
  1. The aim of "PROGEDO" is PROduction and management [GEstion] of human and social science data [DOnnées].  PROGEDO brings together stakeholders involved in quantitative surveys around a common national policy driven by two major dimensions: producing and providing data for human and social sciences.
  2. "HUMA-NUM": A human and social science research project to facilitate the digital revolution based on an original form of organisation involving the implementation of a human system (collective consultation) and a technological system (long-term digital services) on a national and European scale, based on a major network of partners and operators.

Raimond Castaing Micro-Characterisation Centre

UMS R. Castaing N° 3623

The Raimond Castaing Micro-Characterisation Centre was established on January 1 2014. The centre is located at the Espace Clément Ader at Montaudran.  The platform occupies 965 m² in a secure building designed and built to rigorous specifications to ensure optimum equipment operation.

The centre has 12 micro and nanocharacterisation appliances and preparation equipment:

  • 2 electronic micro probes;
  • 4 field emission scanning electron microscopes, including one of the dual-beam type;
  • 5 transmission electron microscopes;
  • 1 secondary ion mass spectrometer.

Six of these appliances are new and were acquired under the State-Region Plan Agreement (CPER) 2007-2013:

  • 2 electron micro probes, one conventional and one of the field emission type (nanoprobe);
  • 3 field emission scanning electron microscopes including one of the dual-beam type and one microscope with an EBSD (electron backscatter diffraction) detector;
  • 1 aberration corrected field emission type transmission electron microscope coupled to an EDX (energy dispersive x-ray spectrometry) spectrometer and to an electron energy loss spectrometer (EELS).

The unit has been in its design operational state since December 2014. It was officially opened on 16 March 2015.

CALMIP intensive calculation platform


The CALMIP computational meso centre was installed in the Espace Clément Ader (ECA) at the beginning of 2014 at the time of installation of its new Eos supercomputer. When it was commissioned, Eos took 183rd place in the rating of the 500 most powerful machines in the world and is currently still the most powerful regional and inter-university supercomputer in France.

At the same time, Météo France was installing its new Prolix supercomputer in the same machine room at the ECA, containing 23,760 processors providing a peak computation power of 513 TF (i.e. approximately twice as much as CALMIP).

The entire technical infrastructure to ensure the proper operation of the two supercomputers has been shared (water chillers to cool the machines, air conditioning, electricity generators, power inverters, etc.) and it should also be noted that the heat produced by the PCI at ECA (CALMIP + Météo France) is recovered to heat the building and, in time, will heat the mixed development zone in Montaudran.

In terms of scientific use, there was a real boom in demand when Eos was commissioned: the demand for computation time in 2015 reached about 78 million computation hours as opposed to 41 million hours in 2014 (a 90% increase) and the number of projects submitted to CALMIP reached 250 (an 8% increase from 2014). Currently more than 500 researchers use CALMIP every day, along with innovative companies, as more than one million computation hours were consumed in 2015 by their R&D departments.

CALMIP has recently acquired a new storage system, largely thanks to IDEX support (research and digital, €850,000). This Big Data project (DATAMIP) has a budget of €1.6 million for 2015 and a new storage infrastructure will be put in place at the end of 2015 with a total capacity of 7 usable Petabytes (7PB), allocated as follows:

  • 3 PB of quick storage in a parallel high-performance file system for intensive mega data processing;
  • 4 PB of object storage for securing this quick storage space.

This new storage equipment will be installed in November 2015 and will finally go into production among researchers at the beginning of 2016.