Cryogenics at the ILL

By setting up in Grenoble the ILL was on fertile ground, as there was already a lot of cryogenics activity going on. But we have to remember that in the early seventies liquid helium cryostats were not that common, and dilution cryostat technology was in its early stages - they were not that powerful and were difficult to use.

To its great merit, the ILL - with its partners the CNRS/CRTBT (Grenoble) and the Walther-Meissner Institut (Garching/Munich) - rather than focusing on lower and lower temperatures, aimed at popularising cryogenics by developing reliable and easy-to-use cryostats, allowing samples to be changed more and more quickly. What used to take weeks can today be performed in a matter of hours.
We should also remember that the major advances we talk about here were capitalising on work performed by various teams in France and Germany. Our modern dilution cryostats, for example, would not have been possible without a series of other inventions, such as that of the silver powder exchanger (Giorgio Frossati, CNRS).

​​​​​​​The cryogenics group's activity in the early years is illustrated here via some of the major devices it was able to develop:

The content of these pages owes a lot to the first 19 ILL Annual Reports:

and to the long memories of the veterans of the ILL, the CRTBT/CNRS, the CEA and Garching/Munich.