ESPCI ParisTech

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Template:Coord Template:Infobox University ESPCI ParisTech (officially the école supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles de la ville de Paris; The City of Paris Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution) is a chemistry and physics engineering college run by the city of Paris, France and a member of ParisTech (Paris Institute of Technology). It conducts high level research in those fields.

The students enter the School after a competitive examination (concours X-ESPCI-ENS) following at least two years of Classes Préparatoires. They are called Pécéen or PC1(boys) and Pécéenne or PCN(girls). The School itself is also known as Physique-Chimie or simply PC.

The ESPCI ParisTech is one of the founding members of ParisTech and a member of the IDEA League and the UNITECH International Society.

ESPCI develops its relations with industrial partners such as Schlumberger, Rhodia, Total, Thales, Arkema, Michelin, which sponsored each yeargroup of students and signed research contracts with ESPCI laboratories. ESPCI ParisTech has signed partnership agreements with L'Oréal and Saint-Gobain for the recruitment of their professionals.


At the end of the 19th century, following the annexion of Alsace and Lorraine by Germany, France lost the École de Chimie de Mulhouse (Mulhouse Chemistry School), which was at that time the best Chemistry school in the country. One of its professors, Charles Lauth, starting in 1878, obtained from the public administration the creation of a Grande École.

In 1882 the École Supérieure de Chimie Industrielles de la Ville de Paris was established and became the ESPCI, the current name, in 1948. Since its foundation, the founders of the school have been insisting on the pluridisciplinarity of the courses available. Biology was introduced in 1994. Studying at the ESPCI is free of charge as voted by the Counsel of Paris.

After its establishment, the School rapidly became a meeting spot for the best scientists. From 1880 on, Pierre and Jacques Curie started a serie of research on crystal electrical properties that led to the piezoelectricity discovery. At the end of the year 1897, Marie Curie started her work on uranic rays discovered by Becquerel one year earlier. After numerous experiments in the ESPCI laboratories, she found out that pitchblende was 4 times more radioactive than uranium or thorium. In July 1898, the Curies announced the discovery of polonium and in December of the same year that of radium. Pierre and Marie Curie received the Physics Nobel Prize in 1903. After the death of her husband, Marie Curie was granted the Chemistry Nobel Prize in 1911.

Many former students have distinguished themselves, amongst which there are Georges Claude (5th year), founder of Air Liquide, Paul Langevin (7th year), physicist and inventor and Frédéric Joliot-Curie (39th year), founder of the CEA and Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 with his wife Irène.

In 1976, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (Nobel Prize 1991) became Director of the School and remained in this position until his retirement in 2002.


The course of study lasts four years. The two first years are devoted to giving the students a strong basic education in Physics, Chemistry and in Biology. During the third year, the students perform an industrial internship and research projects in laboratories. The students can major in Physics, Chemistry or Physico-chemistry. During the fourth year, the students can either start doctoral studies or do a master abroad. They can also complete their education in various application schools (master for engineers). In 2002 a master program in Bioengineering was created.

The engineering practical training program is based on the industrial internship at the beginning of the third year, the projects in laboratories during the last two years, lectures on recruitment process and social economics at the beginning of the fourth year. The compulsory industrial internship, which lasts from 4 to 6 months, has a huge importance. More than 50% of the students do their internship abroad, in European countries, the United-States, Japan, China, Australia...

The quality of the education given at the ESPCI enables its students to work in any industrial sector (Telecommunication, Computing, Chemistry, Pharmacology, Biology...), mostly in Research and Development (47% in R&D, 10% in Production, 10% in Consultancy, 5% in Environment, 3% in Teaching, 3% in Computing, 22% in other fields such as Marketing, Management...).

In its 2010 edition, the Academic Ranking of World Universities, also known as Shanghai Ranking, lists ESPCI ParisTech (Industrial Physics and Chemistry Higher Educational Institution - Paris) as the first French engineering school, in the same tier (200-300) as the École polytechnique, among the best 75-123 schools and universities in Europe and among the best 8-13 in France.

5 researchers from ESPCI have received the Nobel Prize:

  • Pierre and Marie Curie (Physics, 1903),
  • Marie Curie - second Nobel Prize (Chemistry, 1911),
  • Frédéric Joliot-Curie (Chemistry, 1935),
  • Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (Physics, 1991),
  • Georges Charpak (Physics, 1992).


The primary mode of admission (60 out of 72 students every year) is a competitive examination open to candidates enrolled in the PC (Physics-Chemistry) section of the Preparatory Classes to the Grandes écoles. The written, oral and sporting tests are the same as for the Ecole Polytechnique but the tests are weighted differently.

Candidates to the competitive examination must have their baccalauréat or an equivalent diploma. They must be over 17 year-old and under 22 year-old the 1st January of the examination year. Foreign candidates must be under 26 year-old and can attempt this examination only three times.

It is also possible for students from the MP section (Maths-Physics) of the Preparatory Classes or having completed 2 or 3 years in a French University in a Physics or Chemistry major to enter the ESPCI-ParisTech. Admission is reserved to first class honour students selected according to their academic results.

Directors of the ESPCI

  • Paul Schützenberger (1882–1896), member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Charles Lauth (1897–1904)
  • Albin Haller (1905–1924), member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Paul Langevin (1925–1946), member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • René Lucas (1947–1968), member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Georges Champetier (1969–1975), member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1976–2003), Nobel laureate, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Jacques Prost since 2003, member of the French Academy of Sciences

Professors of ESPCI ParisTech

  • Jérôme Bibette, physical chemist, founder of four startups RainDance Technologies, Ademtech, Capsum and HiFiBio
  • Bernard Cabane, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Georges Charpak, Nobel laureate
  • Janine Cossy, professor of organic chemistry, Novartis Prize (2000), Boehringer Ingelheim Prize (2001)
  • Mathias Fink, professor of acoustic, professor at the Collège de France, member of the French Academy of Sciences, founder of Sensitive Object, SuperSonic Imagine, Echosens and Time Reversal Com.
  • Étienne Guyon, former director of the École Normale Supérieure and the Palais de la Découverte
  • Ludwik Leibler, professor of soft matter, member of the National Academy of Engineering
  • Jacques Lewiner, professor of solid state physics, member of the French Academy of Technologies, founder of Inventel, Roowin, Cynove and Finsécur
  • Pierre Papon, professor of thermal physics, former director general of the CNRS
  • Jean Rossier, professor of biology, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Jérôme Lesueur, professor of quantum physics

Notable alumni

  • Paul Lebeau (4°), chemist, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Paul Boucherot (4°), physicist, pioneer of DC electric power distribution
  • Georges Claude (5°), founder of Air Liquide
  • Paul Langevin (7°), professor at the Collège de France, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Georges Urbain (9°), chemist, discoverer of the element Lutetium, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • André-Louis Debierne (9°), chemist, discoverer of the element Actinium
  • Fernand Holweck (26°), physicist
  • René Lucas (34°), physicist, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Henri Moureu (36°), chemist, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Frédéric Joliot (39°), Nobel laureate (1935), fondateur du CEA
  • Jean-Jacques Trillat (39°), physicist, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Georges Champetier (41°), chemist, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Gaston Charlot (41°), chemist, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Pierre Gy (62°), chemist and statistician
  • Philippe Dreyfus (66°) informatics pioneer
  • Michel Winterberger (67°), Pechiney scientific advisor, member of the French Academy of Technologies
  • Michel Lavalou (69°), Rhône-Poulenc scientific advisor, member of the French Academy of Technologies
  • Maurice Goldman (70°), physicist, member of the French Academy of Sciences
  • Guy Sebban (83°), International Chamber of Commerce Secretary General
  • Henri-Dominique Petit (87°), Chairman of Sperian Protection
  • Sylvain Visconti (87°), former vice-president of Rhone-Poulenc
  • Serge Le Berre (87°), executif director of Valeo
  • Michel Baritiu (87°), former vice-président of Halliburton
  • Christian Dailly (87°), International director of Arkema
  • Laurent Vigroux (89°), directeur of the Institut d'astrophysique de Paris
  • Xavier Drago (90°), sustainable development director and member of the board of Air Liquide
  • Bernard Serin (90°), chairman of Cockerill-Sambre (CMI) (ex-Usinor) and of the FC Metz
  • Philippe Goebel (91°), chairman of Total Petrochemicals France
  • Patrice Robichon (91°), scientific advisor of Pernod-Ricard
  • Christian Reinaudo (92°), President of Agfa HealthCare
  • Philippe Klein (95°), executive vice-president of Renault, member of the Volvo Board
  • Hervé This (95°), physical chemist
  • Henri Rajbenbach (98°), general director of the Information technology at the European Commission


ESPCI hosts high levels laboratories:

The ESPCI ParisTech International Scientific Committee


  • Prof. Dame Julia Higgins, Professor of Polymer Science Imperial College


  • Dr. Ashok Belani, Schlumberger Chief Technology Officer and Vice President
  • Dr. Christine Bénard, Michelin Scientic Advisor
  • Prof. Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics and Deputy Head, University of Cambridge
  • Prof. Edith Hamel Professeur, Neurology professor, McGill University
  • Prof. Dr. Georg Maret, Professor of Soft Matter Physics, University of Konstanz
  • Prof. David R. Nelson, Professor of biophysics, Harvard University
  • Dr. Didier Roux, Saint-Gobain Scientific advisor
  • Prof. Amos B. Smith III, Professor of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania
  • Prof. Samuel I. Stupp, Professor of Materials Science, Chemistry, & Medicine, Northwestern University



External links

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