The École supérieure d'optique ("Higher school of optics"), nicknamed "SupOptique", is the leading French grande école in the field of optics and its industrial and scientific applications, and a member of the prestigious ParisTech (Paris Institute of Technology). The École supérieure d'optique was opened in 1920, as part of the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée, aiming to train engineers and cadres for the French optics industry. It is consequently the oldest institution of higher education and research in optics in the world , and the most important in term of annual number of graduates.
The École supérieure d'optique provides an education of high scientific level, specially for former students from the French Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Écoles. It trains engineers to be, in industry and research, the actors of the development of optics in many areas such as telecommunications, biology, energy, materials, nanotechnologies, aerospace engineering. It trains also researchers and teachers in the fields of optics and physics. Through the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée, it participates at the world level to the promotion of knowledges and to the development of new techniques in optics
Since September 2006, the set constituted by the École supérieure d'optique and the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée has been designated by the names "Institut d'optique Graduate School" or Institut d'optique.
As of 2006 the school had 50 permanent faculty members (teachers, teacher-researchers and researchers), 241 students in the "diplôme d'ingénieur de l'ESO" programme, 15 students in the national research master programme (some of them matriculated in the université Paris-XI or another institution) and 40 doctoral students (matriculated in the université Paris-XI).
Like most grandes écoles in France, students have to follow a two or three-year intensive preparation in a "classe préparatoire aux grandes écoles" (CPGE) before entering the school after having sat a competitive entrance exam. If selected, students can then follow the three-year course. For those undergraduate students, the engineer's degree of the school (diplôme d'ingénieur de l'École supérieure d'optique) is a first degree. About 10 graduate students enter also the first or second year of the engineer's degree programme after sitting an entrance exam.
The course lasts for three years. Students have the possibility, during the second year, of taking part in the "apprentissage" which consists of a partnership between the school and a company. The student will thus follow part of the studies at the school and will work a the company the rest of the time.
It is possible to follow courses abroad in universities that have partnerships with the school (such as Imperial College for instance) for the entire year. Students can also choose to do their third year a special branch of the school located in Saint-Étienne.
The first year consists of fundamental physics and engineering sciences (820 hours). At the end of year one, students must do a one-month internship. Year two is centered around optical components (720 hours) and ends with a two-month internship. And finally, during year three, students must choose amongst a variety of specialities and learn how to integrate optical technologies to systems.
Mathematics (Signal Processing, Probability & Noise), Geometric Optics, Physical Optics, Polarization, Electronics (Anologue & Digital), Computer Sciences (numerical analysis), Quantum Mechanics, Atomic Physics, Semiconductors, Electromagnetism, Microproessors, Engineering Sciences (Automatics), Practicals (Optics & Electronics), Communication, English, Second Language (Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese)
Lasers, Fourier Optics, Aberrations & Diffraction, Radiometry, Detection Systems, Optical Design, Computer Sciences (C language), Laser Diodes, Electro & Acousto-Optics, Waveguided Optics, Non-Linear Optics, Holography, Statistical Optics, Electronics (Commutation & High Frequencies, Practicals (Optics & Electronics), project work, English, Second Language, Innovation in Science & Engineering, Company Economy
3 specialities to choose from: Laser Technology, Signal Processing applied to Imaging, Non-Linear Electromagnetism, Optronics, Telecommunications, Computer Sciences (C++ language)
3 specialities to choose from: Imaging, Opto-Electronic components, Micro-Optics, Turbulence Imaging, Near Field Microscopy, Nanophotonics, Plasma, Computer Sciences (Optical Design Software), Micro-fabrication, Radar, Economy courses at the HEC school in Paris
3 specialities to choose from: ''Opto-Mechanical Surfaces, Bio-Physics, Bio-Photonics, Visualization, Quantum Optics, Pattern Recognition, Optical Sensors, Photometric Engineering, HEC courses
Compulsory subjects: English, Project Management, Company & Contract Law, Patents, Project Work (20-30 days)
SupOptique organizes also a national research master programme in two years (diplôme national de master en sciences et technologie à finalité de recherche mention physique et applications spécialité optique, matière et plasma) for graduate students with a licence or an equivalent foreign degree. Students in the "diplôme d'ingénieur de l'ESO" programme have also access to this programme. A doctorate in optics can be prepared in the internationally recognized research laboratory of SupOptique, the Laboratoire Charles Fabry, the doctor's degree is awarded by the Université Paris-XI or the École polytechnique.
Most research groups are part of the Charles Fabry Laboratory since 1998, which is associated to the CNRS and the University of Paris XI. Pierre Chavel is the director of the laboratory.
Here are the different research groups of the laboratory (2005):
The school also has a special body called IOTech that has the function of working on industrial development.
There are about 100 people on the research staff. The total budget for the research department is 7.8 million euros.
The mirrors used for the STEREO mission (NASA project, see picture) were made at the Institut d'Optique by the "Optical Surfaces" team.
About 60% of the students have an international experience as they come out of the school, after having gone abroad for a whole year of study or through an internship. It is possible to go and study in a foreign university or school as part of the degree. Students usually get a double diploma for doing that.