Vincent Berger has two jobs, two labs, even twin babies. As a researcher at Paris-based aerospace giant Thales, he developed the technology behind a new short-wavelength night-vision camera for military surveillance. But he’s best known for his theoretical contributions in optical semiconductors, quickly becoming a linchpin of telecommunications. At 29,Berger was the first to describe ways to integrate photonic crystals with bulky optical devices such as routers. Many think this work will lead to wafer-thin chips that can manipulate photons the way semiconductors control electrons. He was also first to demonstrate that light waves could change color in gallium arsenide, the superfast material of choice for the ubiquitous semiconductor laser. While others convert Berger’s theories into technologies such as miniature cryptography devices, telecom traffic busters and air pollution detectors, he is busy balancing his position at Thales with his new role as university professor. He looks forward to forging industry-university partnerships—not often found in France—to boost the commercialization of photonics research.