Created in 2006, the Hubert Curien laboratory is a joint research unit (UMR 5516 ) of the Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne, the National Research Centre "CNRS" and the Institut d’Optique Graduate School. It is composed of about 240 members who work on scientific topics related to optics, photonics and microwave, computer science, telecom and image.

The Hubert Curien Laboratory is a member of the LABEX (laboratory of excellence) MANUTECH-SISE and of the LABEX PRIMES and and the LABEX MILYON.

The LABEX MANUTECH-SISE is a "Laboratoire d’Excellence" whose ambition is to promote the Lyon – St-Etienne place at the highest international level in the field of surface and interface science and engineering.
The objectives of the LABEX MANUTECH-SISE are to develop the understanding and control of surface phenomena, such as wear, friction, fatigue resistance, chemical reactivity, wettability, visual and tactile aspects. The aims of the LABEX are also focused on the creation and control of surface functionalities, such as in tribology, optics and chemistry, as well as on the optimization of advanced processes of surface and interface manufacturing at different scales, including ultrashort laser micromachining and assembling.
The workforce is about 300 researchers, engineers, technicians, post-docs and PhD.
The LABEX MANUTECH-SISE has been created from an academic / company partnership gathering, within the Lyon – St-Etienne area, five laboratories belonging to university, engineering high schools and CNRS, with three industrial companies deeply involved in research and developments. Between the LABEX partners, the joint objective is to develop knowledge and know-how through a joint approach of questions, tools and perspectives. This is a rather new and original way, compared to more traditional approaches consisting, for some partners, in solving problems of other partners.

The “Physics, Radiobiology, Medical Imaging, and Simulation” (PRIMES) Laboratory of Excellence (LabEx) project is funded on a strong community with outstanding expertise in medical physics, radiobiology, medical imaging and computer science in Lyon and the surrounding Rhône-Alpes-Auvergne region. PRIMES’s primary objective is to develop new concepts and methods for the exploration, diagnosis and therapy of cancer and aging-related pathologies.

The LABEX MILYON gathers more than 400 researchers in mathematics and computer science, from five research units (UMR) of the University of Lyon located in Lyon (ICJ, UMPA, LP, LIP) and Saint-Etienne (Hubert Curien laboratory).
MILYON focuses on four key areas: Excellence in research, especially at the interface of the two disciplines, and with other sciences; Education, with innovative research-oriented curriculums; Outreach with an ambitious program aiming at disseminating scientific culture among the general public and technology transfer to industry.


In 2008, a joint research group was set up with the Optics Institute, Graduate School working on Lighting, Visual looking, Optical imagery and Opto-numeric security. The year 2009 saw a joint research team project being set up with the two companies called HEF and IMPULSION working on industrial applications of laser processing in femto-second mode. At the same time and in agreement with the CNRS and the University, researchers from the LIGIV team, who do scientific research into colour in perceptual and physical dimensions, were incorporated into our lab. Naturally these researchers have fitted well working in the domain of image processing. This regular evolution accompanies the structuration of the Pôle Optique Rhône-Alpes, confirming the Saint-etienne region as a major Rhone-Alpes leader in Optics, Photonics, Computer Science, Telecom and Image. Today, the Hubert Curien Lab is directly involved in five technological platforms of the "Pôle Optique Rhône-Alpes".

On a regional level, the public institute of scientific cooperation called the PRES-Université de Lyon was set up in 2007. This Institute has a recognised potential of 130 laboratories, approximately 7000 researchers and teacher-researchers and 5000 PhDs. This structure is a part of the Research and Higher Education territorial policy which contributes to the improved competiveness of the Lyon / Saint-Etienne agglomeration. This is a major development for the Hubert Curien Lab and many possible outcomes. More than ever in the history of our laboratory and in order to fully benefit from this evolution, we need an ambitious and determined scientific policy which clearly stipulates our field of skills and excellence. The CAMPUS project came into being on a local level in Saint –Etienne and in this context. The Hubert Curien lab is one of the pivotal points of the structuring projects for the Saint-Etienne agglomeration. This project plans to unite on the same site as the former manufacture factory (encompassing the City of Design to the major facilities of the Plaine Achille) teaching, research economic activities, culture, housing, sports and leisure. Several initiatives were launched in 2009 in order to reinforce innovation and creation regarding this major campus:

  • Implanting the Saint-Etienne Science Faculty and extending the Optical Institut Graduate School (Palaiseau).

  • Building Telecom Saint-Etienne premises near the laboratory.

  • Arrival of HEF R&D Company (150 researchers and technicians) on the nearby premises.


The Lab will directly benefit from these new installations as one third of the laboratory staff (teacher-researchers) teaches at the science faculty and another third teaches at Telecom Saint-Etienne. In addition, the research partnership with the Optic Institute came into being in the laboratory via the ERIS team. Over the last four years, the Hubert Curien Lab has hoped to set up a scientific policy based on the following points:

  • Publications: The main objective in this field is to increase the international visibility of the lab. We have improved (with regards the last 4-year contract) both the quality of our publications (choice of reviews and more selective conferences) and the quantity. Today we have a real publication strategy.

  • National and International Relations: the laboratory has voluntarily taken part in projects supported by the National Research Agency (ANR), the University, the CNRS and the region while at the same time developing scientific projects with the PRES Labs. Today the Hubert Curien Lab has a total of 20 ANR projects in which it is either pilot or partner. This represents the majority of all the ANR projects with the University of Saint-Etienne. Furthermore, major emphasis is put on inviting foreign scientists for long or short visits to our Lab. The Lab is also present in several committee programs, in international conferences and in specific European projects in phase with our principal research domains.

  • Industrial Relations: This is an important sector within the laboratory. The industrial collaborations contracts are a traditional part of our lab activity. The laboratory has in fact been involved in the setting up of several start-ups.