Low Temperatures

ILL provides 67 cryostats, 21 cryofurnaces, 17 special sample sticks and 19 dilution refrigerators.

Cernox, RhFe and Pt100 thermometers

Since 2007, we have calibrated and installed more than 700 Cernox and RhFe sensors. For each cryostat, cryofurnace, cryomagnet, 3He and dilution refrigerator, the calibration data file to be uploaded to the temperature controller is available from the cryostat web page. A curve is also displayed for convenience.


ILL has been operating a He recovery system since 1972 and efforts are continusouly made to minimise losses. Over the last 50 years, we have used more than 3 million litres of liquid helium, 89% of which has been recycled.

All requests for liquid helium should be made at least 48 hours in advance. Please arrange with your Local Contact to order your helium. If you are not familiar with transferring liquid helium between dewar and cryostat, please do not hesitate to call for assistance from your Local Contact or directly from the Low-Temperature Laboratory.


The replacement of the ILL temperature controllers (called ILLSEC) with LakeShore Model 340 controllers was completed in 2010. Because of the lack of heating power available, Kepco ATE power amplifiers are plugged between the LakeShore and the cryostats. For setting the controller, we invite you to read our procedures [Learn more...]. Today, the Model 340 is slowly replaced with the Model 336 and new ILL electronics.

Dry and Wet Cryostats

In order to simplify the use of the cryostats and decrease the liquid helium consumption, we have built four 2 K cryostats for Eulerian cradles and dry (i.e. cryogen-free) Orange cryostats for a few instruments. The 2 K cryogen-free cryostats are used on D9, D10 and D19. On high-performance instruments, the dry option is much too slow and efforts have been made to boost the speed of the wet Orange cryostats whilst keeping their stability and base temperature. Today, all Ø50 mm Orange cryostats are 3x faster. The consumption in liquid helium is increased by only 30% during cooldowns.

Dilution Refrigerators

We have built a series of 40 mK dilution inserts designed to be used inside ILL variable temperature inserts of wet Orange cryostats and cryomagnets. We have also replaced the ageing gas handling systems of the dilution inserts with racks controlling automatically the temperature on the whole range, from 40 mK to 320 K.