Photonics has been recognized by the European Union as being one of its six "Key Enabling Technologies" (KET), the other five technologies being nanotechnology, micro- and nanoelectronics, advanced materials, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing technology.

Brittany is a region strong in the field of photonics, providing training for technicians and engineers as well as Masters’ degrees and PhDs. Here, academic laboratories and private companies have been united via the Photonics Bretagne business cluster.

Four engineering schools and two universities join forces

images laserFour Brittany engineering schools (Enib, Enssat, Insa Rennes and Télécom Bretagne) and two universities (Université de Bretagne Occidentale [University of Western Brittany] and l’Université de Rennes 1) have joined forces to offer the "Master of Photonics" degree, consisting of advanced training in optics taught simultaneously in Brest, Lannion and Rennes. This degree has three specialised study paths: optical telecommunications, optic nanotechnologies and photonics for life and environmental sciences.

The consortium offering this Master’s degree has over ten years of experience in teaching photonics, using the latest digital technologies available for teaching and is supported by the l’Université Européenne de Bretagne (UEB) [European University of Brittany] "UEB c@mpus".


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French research in optical photonics involves 200 laboratories and 13,000 researchers. According to a report published by the French government (key technologies 2015), work by the Association française de l’optique photonique (AFOP) [French Association of Optics and Photonics], Société française d’optique (SFO) [French Optical Society] and optics centres, based on consultation of 150 scientific and industrial experts, photonics is involved in six major areas covering 21 technologies:

  • Telecom: short distance optical transmission, fibres and components, systems and networks;
  • Health and life sciences: photonic analysis systems for healthcare, medical imaging systems, photonic sensors for the life sciences, lasers for healthcare;
  • Energy, lighting and displays: LEDs and OLEDs, photovoltaics, photonics and research infrastructures, displays and augmented reality;
  • Manufacturing and testing: lasers and industrial processes, optical manufacturing techniques, industrial processes and optical measurements;
  • Surveillance, security and space: complex imaging systems for observation and surveillance, image sensors, sensor sources and sensor networks;
  • Generic materials and technologies: nanophotonics and optical thin films, microelectronics and photonics, laser sources and technologies, new materials and components.

As highlighted in this report, it is important to maintain scientific excellence in this area, where the Breton laboratories rank highly (Foton, IPR, etc.) The European Commission has recognized the Anticipa Technopole technology centre as one of the seven optical centres in France, and the business cluster “Photonics Bretagne” was approved by the French government in January 2011.

A Master’s degree in Physics with a specialty in photonics therefore has a natural place in Brittany. The three study paths of the present degree draw on regional strengths: optical telecommunications, optical nanotechnologies and photonics for the life and environmental sciences. Brittany has made photonics a regional priority at the European level (S3, Smart Specialization Strategies)

Educational strengths and originality

  • Well-developed resource sharing allows us to offer a unique educational opportunity throughout Brittany.
  • The bringing together of all regional academic partners in the discipline, with the participation of a significant number of industrial partners.
  • Support from a network of five recognized technological core facilities.
  • Facilities that are both modern and the only ones of their kind in France (ICT, video conferencing, etc.) forming part of the "Brittany digital campus plan".
  • An international study path, "Master’s in Photonics", is available for English-speaking students.