The EPS honors the UCLouvain cyclotron

The European Physical Society (EPS), upon nomination by the Belgian Physical Society, has decided to confer a Historic Site Award to the Cyclotron Hall in Louvain-la-Neuve.

This place hosted in 1990 a world-leading nuclear-astrophysics experiment involving for the first time the post-acceleration of a short-lived radioactive element and the successful study of a key nuclear reaction in the stars. This world premiere was the result of an intensive collaboration between research teams from ULB, KU Leuven and UCLouvain.

There are only two other EPS historic sites in Belgium: the Hotel Metropole in Brussels ('In 1911, the Hotel was the venue of the Solvay Council, dedicated to what soon would be called “The Theory of Radiation & Quanta” ' ) and the Heilige-Geest college in Leuven (“Georges Lemaître, original founder of the theory of the Big Bang,… developed in this college his ideas about an expanding universe consistent with theory and observations ..”).

To celebrate this event, a commemorative plate will be unveiled on Tuesday 12 October 2021 at the "de Hemptinne" building of UCLouvain, which hosts the Cyclotron Hall. The rectors of UCLouvain, ULB and KU Leuven, as well as the EPS president will attend and speak at the event. Participation is by invitation only.

Knowing more

A beam of 13N, an unstable isotope of nitrogen with a half-life of 10 minutes, was produced for the first time on 21 June 1989 by coupling two cyclotrons with an on-line ion source. In December 1990, the energy, intensity and purity of the beam allowed to study successfully the key stellar reaction within the hot Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen (CNO) cycle: 13N + 1H -> 14O + g.

The technologies and instrumentation developed to produce and use energetic radioactive ion beams, and the evidence that it was then possible to perform detailed nuclear reaction studies with short-lived radioactive isotopes, has given rise to the birth of new research fields in nuclear physics and astrophysics.

This breakthrough in accelerator and nuclear physics research paved the way for a multitude of challenging experiments with radioactive ion beams involving major European collaborations and has led to the construction of significant facilities for producing radioactive ion beams in many countries around the world.

Published on September 24, 2021