Annual reports

Key points

with the help of Pierre Andant.

What follows is drawn essentially from the first 19 ILL Annual Reports. The text in blue is additional commentary to the annual report information.

1972, 1973, 1974

Not a word about furnaces.


  • 1st mention of furnaces in the annual report.
  • Creation of a "furnace" group in the "sample environment" service. Dominique Brochier writes:
    "A lot of requests for help from the users. The creation of the furnace group was therefore justified."
    Raymond Serve led the group, but as he was also responsible for high pressures, Pierre Andant was seconded from cryogenics to assist him. The plans for the furnaces were drawn up by Antoine Valenti from the reactor design office.
  • Jens Boie-Suck thinks he was the first to have carried out a high-temperature experiment at ILL. His furnace was built in Munich.
  • Pierre Aldebert, a thesis student from the Odeillo solar furnace, develops a furnace aiming at 2800ºC.
  • Furnaces and ancillary equipment brought into routine service. A range of changes and improvements to existing equipment.”


  • Operation in "routine" mode is now installed. There's a demand for special equipment (very high stability or temperatures) and development is underway, generally in close collaboration with the scientists concerned.


  • 10% of the experiments require a furnace
  • The routine mode temperature range extends from 20 to 1600ºC ±0,5ºC
  • Design of a special 200ºC horizontal axis furnace.
  • Efforts made to standardise the furnaces and control electronics
  • Projects underway: higher temperatures, better stability (0.1ºC<T<800ºC), automation


  • 10 furnaces available (on two occasions they were all simultaneously in operation). 97 experiments with a furnace (682 days)
  • A 400ºC furnace built
  • Construction of a very special furnace for S6, with unusual specifications (74 mm width, high-frequency cable crossings, windows transparent to beta rays)
  • Technical problems encountered on the development of a 2000ºC horizontal axis furnace.


  • Nothing in the annual report!
  • Pierre Aldebert atteint 2400ºC. He completes his PhD, gives his drawings to the English, who go on to achieve 2657ºC in 1984. Following the shutdown of Harwell, the furnace is given to the ILL but (?) is not used. Apparently in the end it is given to an Austrian laboratory.
  • Aldebert says that he helped Brochier to design a furnace for ILL which he himself did not use. Brochier doesn’t remember (he wasn’t interested in high temperatures). In fact it was Raymond Serve who designed the furnaces assisted by the draughtsman Antoine Valenti.


  • 83 experiments using furnaces (664 furnace days).
  • A 2500ºC furnace is under construction.
  • A 400ºC furnace (stability < 0.005 K) has been developed.
  • Special geometry furnaces are being studied for certain instruments.


  • 62 experiments using furnaces (556 furnace days).
  • The 2500ºC furnace is completed and brought into operation for a number of experiments, with varying degrees of success. This has highlighted the need for improvements but in any case this equipment will always be “for specialists only”!
  • The furnaces with special geometry adapted to IN6 and D1B is put into routine operation.
  • The special S6 furnace is remodified in an attempt to meet the stringent requirements of this instrument.
  • LTPCM furnaces for D4, D11 and D17


  • 70 experiments using furnaces.
  • A second version of the 2500ºC furnace is in operation; the study phase for a third version is under way.
  • A similar model, specially adapted to D15, is being studied.
  • The bases of a standard furnace for triple-axis instruments are defined.
  • Modifications made to IN4 furnace and under study for S6 furnace (again).


  • 37 requests received for the 2 cycles.
  • Version 3 of the 2500ºC furnace is operational. However, temperatures above 2000ºC are not yet routinely available. Difficulties encountered with the supply of refractory metal components.
  • The secondary vacuum pump is now mounted directly on the top plate, giving a much improved vacuum. This design has been tested on the 2500ºC furnace (diffusion pump) and the IN13 furnace (turbo-molecular pump).
  • Furnace for 3-axis instruments using a new sample mount with access from below.
  • Tests carried out on heating elements for special neutron experiments: Al (50µ) up to 400ºC, flat double-spiral heating element giving a very weak magnetic field for IN11.
  • Furnaces under study: non-magnetic furnace for IN11, horizontal tube furnace for small-angle scattering, 2000ºC furnace for D15, surface treatment furnace for D11.


  • The 3-axis furnace is put into service (there will be no reference to the “blue series” until the 1986 report).
  • The 2500ºC furnace achieves its design temperature.
  • Automatic optical pyrometry is now available.
  • The non-magnetic furnace for IN11 is under construction (triple re-entrant element with 1 mm wall separation at the sample zone).
  • Testing of the computerised control unit CERBERE is very satisfactory.
  • The high-temperature/high-pressure group has new premises in ILL 22.


  • Routine use of furnaces, particularly in the range 200-1600ºC.
  • 3-axis furnace equipped with programmable CERBERE control unit.
  • Miniature furnace for D17 (50-250ºC).
  • 1600ºC furnace for IN13.
  • “Top loading” 1600ºC furnace under construction.
  • A new furnace reaches 2600ºC.


  • New furnaces: 4 standard furnaces and 2 special furnaces.
  • The “blue” series furnaces for 3-axis instruments are now available in different versions (top loading, vanadium, niobium, 1000ºC and 1600ºC) as they offer a very low temperature gradient and are easy to maintain. Measurements can be taken on 2 samples without dismounting.
  • An “orientable tube furnace in a light-weight cloche” for SANS.
  • Creation of a fleet of mobile control and power consoles for the “blue” series furnaces.


  • 32 high-temperature experiments (8250 hours of operation).
  • 10 complete units much easier to use than in the past
  • Special requests continue to be received (rotating sample mount for IN3 at 1800ºK, increased sample zone for IN1).
  • New furnace for IN5 under construction.


  • 32 high-temperature experiments (7634 hours of operation)
  • New 1000ºC furnace for IN10C (for samples up to 70 mm in diameter and 80 mm in height), outer diameter  of just 120 mm.
  • New type of resistor and better thermal shielding, resulting in improved power consumption.
  • Role of scientific animator taken over by W. PETRY from Albert WRIGHT (who did an excellent job).
  • Raymond Serve retires.


  • The high-temperature group now has 3 technicians: Pierre Andant, Paul Martin, specifically for the furnaces, and Louis Mélési, who is more specialised in mechanical engineering. The draughtsman, Antoine Valenti, is now a member of the high-temperature group.
  • The furnaces are operated for a total of 6000-7000 hours of neutron experiments.
  • Development of a special furnace for D4B.
  • Development of a special furnace with sapphire window for D11.
  • Development of a standard furnace but for temperatures up to 2000ºC.


  • IN11 receives its non-magnetic 1600ºC furnace.
  • D7 receives its 1000ºC furnace.
  • Existing standard furnaces are improved to provide temperatures up to 1800ºC.
  • On IN10, the Doppler drive is replaced by a temperature scanning device.
  • Many instruments have a furnace that is specially adapted to their requirements. Furnace manufacture is now more professional, and, thanks notably to Pierre Andant's monolithic resister and more suitable control racks, furnaces can operate for about a year without maintenance.