Key Technologies

Photonics & Imaging

Science and technology of light

Photonics and imaging encompass all devices related to the visible or invisible light spectrum, from infrared to X-rays. Photonics is the science and technology of light, working on the duality of an electromagnetic wave and a particle known as a photon.
Photonics is now widely used in our daily lives. Cameras, lasers, fibre optics, Augmented & Virtual Reality, sensors, lighting, adaptive optics… photonics covers an infinite number of applications, thanks to its ability to generate, emit, transmit, capture and analyse photons.

Photonics produces systems that are complex in their design and manufacture, but simple in their use, for a wide range of civil and military applications: defence and security, space, energy, environment, Industry of the future (or industry 4.0/Smart industry), agriculture, health, etc.

Major technological challenges

Embedded systems (hardware/software optimisation)

Intelligent learning, image recognition


Connected sensors

Data interpretation coupled with AI

Augmented and mixed reality

Multimodal imaging, data fusion


SCS cluster is setting up a working group to encourage innovation and R&D projects in photonics and imaging.

  • Cumulative sales of around €18 billion, of which 50% from exports, in a global market worth €615 billion
  • Growth of more than 30% over the last 5 years
  • 85,000 jobs, with a growth forecast of around 150,000 jobs in France by 2030
  • Around 1,100 companies, 80% of them SMEs
  • Around 300 fundamental and applied research laboratories, with the capacity to carry out industrial-scale research


Photonics produces systems that are complex in design and manufacture but simple in use:

  • Space, the historic field of photonics (large telescopes, earth observation satellites, communication satellites with laser links and quantum cryptography),
  • Industry of the future/Industry 4.0 (quality control with 100% real-time production verification)
  • Agriculture (disease detection, optimising water supply and treatment)
  • Health (biophotonics, etc.) and Life Sciences
  • Defense and access security