November 29, 2023
Europe/Paris timezone

Celebrating 50 Years of UK

Celebrating 50 Years of UK Contributions to the ILL


This meeting will celebrate the accession of the UK to the Institut Laue-Langevin and how the neutron scattering landscape has developed over subsequent years, leading to the current situation where UK scientists have access to world leading sources: ILL, ISIS and, soon, the new ESS source in Lund.

50 years ago in 1973, the UK became an equal partner in the ILL with France and Germany. Construction of the reactor, which would (and still does) deliver the world’s brightest neutron beams, started in 1969. On time and within budget, the reactor diverged in 1971 and first experiments were performed in 1972. When the UK joined a year later, the character of the ILL changed from being “Unique in the World” to that of a “University User Laboratory”, with a user programme similar to that at Harwell at the time. All neutron laboratories have since adopted a similar user system, making neutron scattering a powerful tool available to the many, not just the privileged few. 


To meet rapidly growing user demand, instruments have been vastly improved, with gains much greater than the higher source intensity. These instruments have contributed to a wide range of science – and impact - from the hydrogen-bonded  structure of biological macromolecules, to the function of membranes and polymers, and from solid state chemistry and physics, magnetism and superconductivity, to nuclear and fundamental physics.