historics

The Orsay Faculty of Science

As early as 1942, Irène Joliot-Curie, foreseeing an increase in materials and researchers in the fields of physics and nuclear chemistry, felt the need to expand the Radium Institute. At the end of the war, the development of increasingly powerful accelerators made it necessary to acquire a large site near Paris. The University of Paris, the “Ecole Normal Superieure” and the “College de France” were partners in this project.

In parallel with the “Quai St Bernard” project for the Faculty of Science in Paris, a search for a suitable site was conducted in the Vallée de Chevreuse. In October 1954, the 65-acre Parc de Launay in Orsay was chosen.
Construction of the buildings for the Nuclear Physics Institute and Linear Accelerator Laboratory began in 1955, directed by the architect Seassal.
The construction work was overseen by Dean Joseph Peres, Irene and Frederic Juliot-Curie and Hans von Halban.

The first large accelerators were inaugurated on June 4th 1958
for the 157 MeV synchrotron and on December 24th 1958 for the linear accelerator.
The “College de France” cyclotron, built in 1937, was moved to Orsay in 1957. At the same time, the isotope separator was being built by René Bernas.

The ”Ile de France” South Science Campus was born.

In 1958, part of the Paris Faculty of Science undergraduate programme started to be taught on the campus.
The Faculty's first director was Professor Guinier.
Following a rapid increase in the number of students and research facilities, Orsay became a faculty in its own right on March 1st 1965. Professor Bergerard was elected Dean of the Orsay Faculty of Science.
Dean Poitou succeeded him on January 1st 1968 and presided over the Faculty until December 1970, when it became part of Paris-South University, which then included the campuses of Orsay, Chatenay Malabry, Sceaux, Cachan, and Kremlin-Bicêtre.

From 1960, the campus began to flourish and expand. The number of laboratories increased to include the Laboratory of Atomic Physics and its applications, the Aimé Cotton Laboratory, the Optics Institute, the Earth Sciences Laboratory…
The list has continued to grow over the years.
More than 120 laboratories are now involved in research covering all the major areas of science. They are, for the most part, attached to the University of Paris South, but also include laboratories belonging to the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) as well as to the University of Paris VI.
The university library opened its doors in June 1962, and in January 1972 an annex reserved for undergraduate students was added.

The establishment of the campus near the CEA (Atomic Energy Center) in Saclay and the CNRS laboratories in Gif has attracted numerous establishments, institutes, laboratories, and engineering schools (Grandes Ecoles) to the region. This has greatly contributed to the Vallée de Chevreuse becoming a center of academic and scientific excellence.