A bit of history

The ILL was founded on 19 January 1967 with the signing of an agreement between the governments of the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. The friendship and influence of Louis Néel and Heinz Maier-Leibnitz brought this project to fruition in Grenoble.

The ILL had the innovative status of a service institute, offering the scientific community the world's leading facilities in neutron science and technology - a large cold neutron source and ten neutron guides, each capable of serving three or four instruments with a very high intensity neutron flux...

In January 1973 the United Kingdom decided to join ILL and officially became the institute’s third Associate member country in 1974.

Twelve other countries have signed "Scientific Membership" agreements with ILL: Spain (1987- ), Switzerland (1988- ), Austria (1990- ), Italy (1997- ), the Czech Republic (1999- ), Sweden (2005- ), Hungary (2005-2013), Belgium and Poland (2006- ), Denmark and Slovakia (2009- ), India (2011-2014).

The Institute is an exceptional centre of excellence, a fine example of successful co-operation in Europe and a prototype for the European Research Area.

Key dates

1967: The ILL is founded on January 19th by France and Germany

1968: Landscaping

1969: Start of work on the reactor floor and walls

1970: Installation of the Level D crane

1971: Construction complete
          The reactor went critical on August 31, ramping to full power on December 16-21

1972: First experiments. Ipoustéguy's sculpture is installed

1973: The UK becomes an Associate on January 1st

1976: The European Molecular Biology Laboratory outstation is established on the site

1979: The 'Deuxième souffle' modernisation programme

1981: The Intergovernmental Agreement is extended to December 1992

1984: Decision to build the ESRF in Grenoble, on the ILL / EMBL research site

1985: Improved version of the vertical cold source

1987: New horizontal cold source

1991-1995: Replacement of the reactor vessel

1994: ESRF starts operations; its first experiments

1995: Restart of the "new" reactor

2000: Launch of the "Millennium Programme" for the modernisation of instruments

2002: ILL is a founding member of EIROFORUM

2002-2007: Refit programme, with improvements to security and seismic reinforcements

2003: The new hot source is installed

2006: Inauguration of the Carl-Ivar Brändén Building, host to the Partnership for Structural Biology, the UVHCI, and the Deuteration lab

2006: H1/H2 guide renewal

2010: Transfer from the CEA to the ILL of environmental monitoring responsibilities

2010: Launch of the EPN science campus

2013: The Intergovernmental Agreement is extended to 2023

2016: The Endurance Programme is launched