Tribute to Jean-Louis Laclare


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We have learned with great sadness that Jean-Louis Laclare passed away on 17 April 2003. Jean-Louis was Project Director of the ESRF and Director of the Machine Division from 1986 till 1996.

Jean-Louis devoted his entire professional life to particle accelerators. In 1969 he joined the Laboratory Saturne, a former Laboratory of the French Atomic Energy Commission in Saclay near Paris. His first contact with accelerator physics was in the Corpuscular Optics Section under H. Bruck. Very soon he was given the task to oversee the machine physics aspects of the Saturne modernisation and to replace the old 3 GeV synchrotron by a machine better adapted to the needs of nuclear physics. The machine reached its nominal performance in spring 1979. He then continued to improve the machine and Saturne became the first strong focusing machine capable of accelerating polarised protons. Saturne was also configured to accelerate heavy ions by building an innovative compact linear structure and a new injector named MIMAS for which Jean-Louis became Project Leader in 1983.

Although the MIMAS construction was in full swing, in 1986 Jean Louis did not hesitate to take the responsibility as Project Director of the ESRF to build a novel and highly complex synchrotron radiation source to generate X-ray beams of unprecedented quality. During the ten years he spent in Grenoble, he had to face two major challenges: the technical task to build the world's first third generation synchrotron light source within time and budget and the management task to deal with the many administrative and infrastructure aspects involved in creating a world-class institute from scratch. The ESRF was the first "all insertion-device" light source and as such raised unprecedented technical problems. To obtain the target goals was considered by many as highly speculative. With the help of his team, to which he communicated his passion and enthusiasm, Jean Louis solved these problems brilliantly: from its very early operation in 1992, the ESRF even surpassed its target performances. It was then the world's brightest X-ray light source and is still considered to be a reference for all light source projects, after more than ten years of operation. Jean-Louis's vision and dedication contributed significantly to this success.

In 1996 Jean-Louis decided to take up the new challenge of the French light source project SOLEIL. However, illness prevented him from pursuing this activity. Despite his heavy duties, Jean-Louis liked to pass on his scientific and technical expertise by teaching in accelerator schools and training young physicists. He was always available to explain complex topics in simple words. All the colleagues who had the chance to work with him and to learn from him will keep him alive in their memory, but will also miss him.

Annick Ropert