IN2P3 National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics

Probing the infinite: from particles to the cosmos

The CNRS National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3) seeks to promote and bring together research activities in subatomic physics. The Institute coordinates programs in this field on behalf of CNRS and universities, in partnership with the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA). Research aims to explore particle and nuclear physics, fundamental interactions, and the links between the infinitely small and the infinitely large.

Reynald Pain, Director

Scientific fields

  • Particle physics;
  • nuclear and hadronic physics;
  • astroparticle physics and neutrinos;
  • theory;
  • instrumentation;
  • grids and cloud computing;
  • research and development of accelerators;
  • back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear energy;
  • medical applications.

Startrail at the HESS (High Energy Stereoscopic System) experiment site in Namibia.

Strategic priorities

Fundamental research: understanding matter and the universe, their composition, and the laws that govern them

Subatomic physicists and their colleagues across the world strive to answer three fundamental questions: what are the elementary constituents of the subatomic world? What is the structure of nuclear matter? What is the universe made of and how does it behave?

Close ties with other disciplines

The Institute's scientific and instrumental expertise benefits other scientific disciplines at CNRS, such as astrophysics and cosmology, chemical sciences, materials physics, and life sciences.

Interaction with society and industry

IN2P3 is involved in the design of new instruments for medical diagnosis and therapy; in research into the fate of radioactive waste and future methods of nuclear energy production; and in the dissemination of high-tech resources to the business world. The Institute's computing expertise of very large amounts of data (grids and cloud computing) is available to all disciplines.

Transnational projects and research tools

IN2P3's research relies on very large instruments and infrastructures and is therefore carried out mostly through collaborations and research projects at the European or international scale. The basic instruments used in the discipline are:

  • particle accelerators;
  • particle detectors placed near high-energy accelerators and in underground laboratories;
  • instruments for space-based, ground-based or undersea observation of high-energy cosmic rays. They are used to study violent phenomena in the universe, as well as cosmological phenomena.

To facilitate the pooling and optimization of its resources and expertise, the Institute is divided into a limited number of large laboratories, infrastructures and technology platforms, working closely with each other and with other CNRS and CEA institutions, as well as with universities and organizations abroad.

Industrial partnerships and applications

The economic and social exploitation of research results is one of the Institute's strategic priorities.

Through a network of laboratory correspondents and a national coordinator, the Institute seeks applications for its research results. These and the expertise developed in the IN2P3 technical services prove particularly useful in areas such as health (especially medical imaging), the space industry, the environment (measurement of weak radioactivity through the Becquerel network) and electronics.

LHC tunnel.