The Institut Laue-Langevin celebrates 50 years of scientific excellence. 19 January 2017.
19 January 2017: Grenoble – The Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), one of the world’s most outstanding neutron research centres, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the presence of Mr Thierry Mandon, French Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, Mr Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, German Ambassador to France, Rt Hon Lord Llewellyn, British Ambassador to France, and many prominent personalities from the world of European research.
The ILL was founded 50 years ago, on 19 January 1967, with the signing of an agreement between the governments of the French Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. The aim of this ambitious project was to create an intense, continuous source of neutrons devoted exclusively to civil fundamental research. In 1971, the first neutron beams were produced and two years later the UK joined the partnership as the Institute’s third Associate member country. Since then, the ILL has taken on a truly international dimension with the signing of scientific membership agreements with a number of other countries. The Institute currently has 10 Scientific Members: Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Belgium, Slovakia, Denmark and Poland.
As one of the pioneers of European research, the ILL has been and remains a melting pot for research, a place where scientists from around the world can freely share their ideas and findings. With a workforce that includes some 30 different nationalities, the ILL can boast a long and particularly rich history of cross-cultural collaboration. It is a testimony to European intellect and creativity, to European progress.
“The unique research conducted at the ILL is essential to solving some of the major challenges facing modern society”, says Professor Helmut Schober, Director of the ILL. The research carried out at the ILL covers a broad range of disciplines and feeds into innovation in many different fields of application, including energy, fuels, plastics and electronics, not forgetting the entire range of biological processes at cellular and molecular level.
Right from the start of operations, the ILL adopted the innovative status of “service institute”, offering some 800 visiting scientists per year the very best support before, during and after their experiments. This status has also forced the Institute to constantly adapt to the changing needs of its users, and even to anticipate these needs, through the ongoing modernisation of its instruments, infrastructure and scientific equipment. For the last 50 years, these upgrades have been a permanent feature of the ILL, allowing the Institute to provide a state-of-the art service that in turn produces cutting-edge science. Even today, the ILL is still looking resolutely to the future with its latest modernisation programme: Endurance.
Prof. Helmut Schober once again: “For me there is absolutely no doubt that science in Europe will continue to need the unrivalled services provided by the ILL and its reliable and safely operated neutron source far into the 2020s.”
50th anniversary souvenir book (pdf).
Consult the website of the celebration (open 6 months only).
Facts and figures:
21,000 scientific publications over 50 years (currently averaging 600 articles per year)
1 Nobel Prize winner
A workforce of 486 (at 31.12.2016)
30 different nationalities!
2016 budget: 98 M€
Recent results from the ILL that capture the imagination include:
- The most accurate confirmation to date that Einstein’s E=MC2 formula is correct, which was achieved by comparing measurements of energy emitted by silicon and sulphur atoms with measurements of the mass of the same atoms.
- The discovery of new forms of ice, most recently ice XVI, the least dense form of ice so far observed by scientists.
- The separation for the first time ever of a particle from one of its physical properties, creating what was baptised a "quantum Cheshire Cat" after the curious feline in Alice in Wonderland that vanishes leaving only its grin.
- Findings about the way bacteria behave and protect themselves in extreme environments, such as the wreck of the Titanic.
- Work that has led to a better understanding of the proteins involved in the HIV virus and how this impacts drug development.