Fertile ground

Grenoble, fertile ground

In his book "Des neutrons pour la science" ("Neutrons for Science") Bernard Jacrot notes that the ILL in 1965 was already on very fertile ground as regards setting up a highly effective cryogenics service [1].

The CNRS had a lot of experience through its CRTBT (Centre de Recherches sur les Très Basses Températures) which was led by Louis Weil until 1968; it was already working with neutrons, as it had built a cold neutron source for Saclay [2,3,4]. The CRTBT is now part of the Institut Néel.
There was also TBT (Très Basses Températures), a company launched by Louis Weil and Albert Lacaze (1956), as Lacaze had invented a hydrogen-helium liquefier. It was bought up by Air Liquide in 1958.

The CEA-CENG had its own Service des Basses Températures (SBT) led by Louis Bochirol, with Louis Weil as advisor. The SBT was particularly involved with cryogenics for the Mélusine and Siloë reactors.

As we will see later, the ILL was active from the very beginning in the Grenoble cryogenics scene, and especially with the CNRS/CRTBT. It also worked very closely with Munich (Garching).


  1. Bernard Jacrot, "Des neutrons pour la science : Histoire de l'Institut Laue-Langevin, une coopération internationale particulièrement réussie", EDP Science, (2006), ISBN-13: 978-2868838780. English translation by Ronen Ghosh (2016): "Neutrons for Science".
  2. Institut Néel, La liquéfaction à Grenoble
  3. Bernard LAMOTTE, Eléments pour l'histoire du DRF
  4. Louis Brochirol, Les Installations cryogéniques pour irradiations des réacteurs Mélusine et Siloé, Rapport CEA no: 2514, (1964).