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History of the lab

Picture here the history of the Grenoble high field laboratory


The effects of magnetic fields namely in physics, have justified important technological efforts : first using electro-magnets and reducing their air gap to produce magnetic fields smaller than 2T- 3T, then using copper coils (Wood or Bitter) in which an efficient water cooling must eliminate the electrical losses (by Joule effect) associated to large electric currents. Thus, around 1970, magnetic fields reached 12-15 T with a 4 MW generator (in MIT Boston, Francis Bitter) or 8 T in Grenoble with a 1.8 MW generator (in LEPM, J.C. Picoche and P. Rub, see picture).

In 1962, as soon as the CNRS laboratories were built on the Grenoble-polygone area,Louis Néel conceived the project of reaching higher magnetic fields, by taking the electrical network and redressing it to direct current. René Pauthenet was in charge of building a new facility with Jean-Claude Picoche and Pierre Rub. This new facility, the "Service National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses" (National Service for High Magnetic Fields) started running under the direction of René Pauthenet in 1971. The installed power was only of 5MW but allowed to reach fields up to 12 to 15 T.

High-field hall, 1968

Klaus von Klitzing in Stokholm, 1985

In 1972, a collaboration with the Max-Plank-Institut für Festkörperforschung (MPI-FKF) in Stuttgart is launched, and the power was raised to 10 MW. This allowed soon to reach 25 T in a 50 mm bore polyhelix coils designed by Hans Schneider-Muntau.

In such high magnetic fields, Klaus von Klitzing discovered the full quantum Hall effect (in Grenoble in the night of 4th to 5th February 1980), for which he got the Physics Nobel Prize in 1985.

A new magnetic field world record (31.5T in 50 mm) was reached in 1987 with a magnet, composed of a superconducting coil providing 11 T, surrounding a resistive coil providing itself 20,5 T, which was built by a French and German team (J.C. Vallier et Hans Schneider-Muntau).

First hybrid magnet reaching 31.35 T in a 50 mm bore diameter in 1987

In 1990-91, the electric and hydraulic powers of the facility was doubled to reach 24 MW, and the partnership MPI – CNRS was marked by the creation of a common laboratory: the GHMFL "Grenoble High Magnetic Field Laboratory" in 1992 which worked until 2004. In order to remain at the highest international level, the GHMFL started to build a new hybrid coil in 1997. Unfortunately, the superconducting part (of 8 T) was not working and a new superconducting coil is currently under construction (on the basis of new techniques) to reach 43 T in the future hybrid magnet, taking into account that resistive coils have made big progress since they’ve reached 35T in a 34mm bore diameter.

In 2009, the Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses (LNCMI) was created, gathering the efforts of the Toulouse laboratory of pulsed magnetic fields and the Grenoble laboratory in static magnetic fields, under the direction of Geert Rikken.