With three Nobel prizes, the Kastler Brossel Laboratory (LKB*) is one of the most prestigious laboratories of quantum physics in France. From fundamental testing of quantum theory to applications, the Lab’s teams cover a wide range of research topics such as quantum gases, optics, atoms and light. The outstanding equipment of the laboratory is at the forefront in terms of technique and precision. It is maintained and improved daily by a team led by Jean-Michel Isac, technical manager of the laboratory and technical director of the physics department of ENS.

After studying mechanics in the Hautes-Pyrénées, Jean-Michel Isac moved to Paris to work as an mechanic at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. "I spent 14 years in this school then I decided to get a degree of engineering studies through evening classes there," he recalls. He achieved the goal of his professional project when joining the LKB in 2006. He is in charge of a team of three electronic engineers, three mechanics and an opticial engineer. Jean-Michel and his team designs and develops prototypes that LKB researchers use to make highly precise measurements.

"Interacting with researchers is exciting. I feel that I fully participate in their research and discoveries."

This proximity enables an exchange of knowledge that constantly enriches their respective work. "I analyze the needs and make custom parts with my team, such as electromagnetic coils, electronic and mechanical systems." For example, he has a milling machine in his workshop that is capable of machining parts to the order of one micron (0.001 millimeter!).

Internationally renowned, the LKB also sometimes asks Jean-Michel Isac to manufacture pieces whose usefulness goes beyond the laboratory, such as for the European project Virgo gravitational wave detection.

* LKB: co-managed by Sorbonne University/CNRS/ENS/Collège de France)

© Pierre Kitmacher - Sorbonne University

Updated on 21 AUG 2018