History of the National Center for Fast Kinetics – ELYSE creation

by Jacqueline BELLONI

  • 1986 On the occasion of the “Journées de Chimie des Rayonnements” in Autrans, a discussion was organized on the need to equip the French teams with a picosecond pulsed radiolysis facility to make up for their delay in temporal resolution. For several years, the French community of Radiation Chemistry was concerned about replacing the existing nanosecond pulsed radiolysis instruments. Considering the broader extension of pulsed methods in other disciplines, the performances sought, and the costs, we favored collective equipment, widely open, including our European colleagues.

  • In 1987 Jacqueline BELLONI was entrusted with the steering of the Project. With the support of the Laboratoire de Physico-Chimie des Rayonnements, the Project was launched for the French and European community of radiation chemists – a multidisciplinary National Center for Rapid Kinetics, based on a pulsed electron picosecond accelerator, of which there is no equivalent in Europe. After numerous discussions (workshops, information messages, letters, communications at congresses) aimed at selecting the specifications of the instrument and the host building, Scientific Project Reports were prepared for the University, the Ministry of Education and Research, the CNRS, the General Council of Essonne and the Regional Council of Ile de France. The total initial investment was evaluated at 42 million Francs (7 million Euros), with the participation of the University of Paris-Sud, the Regional Council of Ile-de-France, the General Council of Essonne, the Ministry of Education, Research and Technology, MENRT (DSPT2) and CNRS (Department of Chemical Sciences). The Ministry and the CNRS would hire four engineers and technicians and provide an operating budget. The multiplicity of funding sources by organizations with staggered nomination or election calendars made our contacts with decision-makers and their consultation very complicated.

  • 1988 The Project of this National Center for Fast Kinetics was supported by the co-council of the Institut de Physico-Chimie Moléculaire d’Orsay. Collaboration with other European groups was also programmed, and research projects were collected.

  • 1989 The UPS Boards agreed to give priority to the Project. The location was planned in the building of the vertical accelerator under the Institute of Molecular Physico-Chemistry after renovation/extension. The Groupe de Physico-Chimie des Rayonnements received the support of Dr. Michel GAILLARD (Director of the Molecular Photophysics Laboratory).

  • 1991 The Government’s decision to systematically decentralize all major facilities to the province and the creation of new universities made the Project very difficult to defend. We were receiving proposals from several Regional Councils offering to fund the whole Project as part of their recent research facilities. Nevertheless, we were trying with the UPS to keep the Project close to the Paris region’s teams.

  • 1993 The Regional Council of Ile-de-France signed its commitment to the Project of the National Center for Fast Kinetics named ELYSE (for LYSE by Electrons), under the condition that it would be realized before 1998. Negotiations with the other institutions continued.

  • 1994 During this period, advances in electron accelerator design were guiding the choices for the future ELYSE facility. The planned installation, very compact, is centered on a 9 MeV linear accelerator of electrons, generated by excitation of a photocathode using a picosecond laser. It was designed from the CANDELA prototype by the Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire d’Orsay directed by T. GARVEY. The laser installation would also serve as a probe for the synchronous detection of intermediates, and also as an independent assembly accessible for studies of pulse photophysics or photochemistry.

  • 1997 Visit of J. BELLONI and M. GAILLARD to the Brookhaven National Laboratory where a laser pulse electron accelerator was just installed by J. WISHART. Visit also to the Northrop-Grumman facility in Princeton.

  • 1998

    At the same time, the Chemistry Departments of the MENRT (DSPT2) and the CNRS were preparing the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry of Radiation merging with the Laboratory of Theoretical Chemistry and the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry of Amorphous Materials into the Physical Chemistry Laboratory at Orsay under the direction of Professor Alain FUCHS.  All the institutions accepted the ELYSE Project. The multidisciplinary scientific projects in chemistry, physics, and biochemistry under radiation were updated. The detailed design studies and the realization of the laser-triggered electron accelerator and the photocathode were immediately initiated at the Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire d’Orsay by the team of its SERA department under the responsibility of Jean-Claude BOURDON. The choice was to use a semiconductor (Cs2Te) photocathode, which is much more efficient than a metal one but requires in situ vacuum preparation.

    The studies for the building’s construction are also launched by the project manager SBAIF, assistant to the project owner (the UPS).

    Simultaneously, the first stage concerning the laser chain is immediately completed and installed in a room of the Molecular Photophysics Laboratory, where the experiments begin while waiting for the move to the future building. Its delivery, after renovation-extension, is scheduled for the end of 2000. All the actualized scientific projects were presented during the ELYSE Workshop on December 3-4, 1998 in Orsay. It was organized by the Scientific Committee chaired by J. BELLONI, and brought together about a hundred participants, including some foreign colleagues

  • 2000 The Physical Chemistry Laboratory, which brought together all the physical chemists of the Orsay Campus, including ELYSE, is officially created under the direction of Professor Alain FUCHS. The electron accelerator coming from the LAL and the laser chain coming from the LPPM were installed in the new building 349 in April. The first picosecond pulse was obtained in March 2001.

  • 2001 Inauguration of the ELYSE facility and building 349 by Xavier CHAPUISAT, President of the University of Paris-Sud, Geneviève BERGER, Director of the CNRS, Jean-Claude BERNIER, Director of the CNRS Chemistry Department, Jean-Paul HUCHON, President of the Ile-de-France Regional Council, and Richard MESSINA, Vice-President of the Essonne General Council.

  • 2002 Ultra-fast synchronous detections were installed in the experimental areas by researchers and engineers of the Physical Chemistry Laboratory under the direction of Jean-Louis MARIGNIER and M. MOSTAFAVI.