Jean-Pierre Briand

Short biographical sketch

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  • Education
  • 1958 : M.S. Faculté des Sciences of Paris.
  • 1966:  PhD in Nuclear Physics, University of Paris.

     Academic positions

  • 2001: Emeritus Professor, Université P.& M.Curie
  • 1990:  Professor of Exceptional Rank, Université P.& M.Curie
  • 1976 : Full  Professor (A.Kastler Chair) at University P.& M.Curie
  • 1960:  Assistant Professor at Faculté des Sciences of Paris

      Main staff positions

  • Chairman of the Department of Physics of  the M.Curie University (1980 - 1984)
  • Director of the Laboratory of Atomic and Nuclear Physics (1970 –1996)
  • Director of the UER of Theoretical and Particle Physics (1977 - 1984)
  • Member of National Committee of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)


    Fellow of the American Physical Society
    Fellow of the
    Institute of Physics (London)
    Holweck gold medal and prize for the discovery of the Hollow Atoms.



   1960- 1970: Research in nuclear physics at Institut du Radium (Paris); study of the α radioactive series of Pa, the octupolar deformations of the heavy nuclei…

   In 1970 by using the coincidence techniques of nuclear physics we solved an old pending problem in atomic physics giving the experimental proof of the origin of the x ray satellites and discovering the so called hypersatellite. These results, presented in Atlanta in 1970, during a new series of International Conferences on a newly opened field of physics  (accelerator based atomic physics), received a very positive feedback leading us to move to Atomic Physics.

    In 1970-80 we moved to the study of the interactions between radioactive nuclei and their electronic clouds, namely the innershell ionization processes induced by nuclear electron capture or α decay. We then got a certain number of significant results such as the discovery of α continuous spectra or of the shake off free ionization processes. We also participated to the very first experiments with the synchrotron radiation in LURE which allowed us to observe the Raman Compton effect in the x ray regime and the infra red divergence of the Raman effect. 

    In 1975  fast highly charged heavy ion beams became available with the very energetic  heavy ions accelerators of nuclear physics (Ganil , GSI,  Berkeley). It became then possible to prepare Hlike and Helike ions of very large atomic numbers Z, allowing to study, for the first time, very elementary fundamental processes such as quantum electrodynamic or  relativistic quantum effects  which vary as Z4 up to Z10. We then moved to this new field  and studied Hlike and Helike ions all along the the periodic table, starting with Ar in Orsay in 1976 and ending in Berkeley in 1990 with H like Uranium, which allowed us to make the very first measurements of the Lamb shift in high fields, to observe the non equality of action and reaction in quantum and relaticistic systems, as well as the relativistic correlation effects in He like species.  

   In 1987 our lab was fired from the Institut du Radium, supposed to concentrate on cancer therapy in connection with the Curie hospital. Our lab then moved to the Jussieu campus where most of the University labs were located.

   In years 1985-90 highly charged ions became available at very low energies with the newly discovered ECR and EBIS sources, opening the way to the study of very new fields in atomic physics. We moved then to these new techniques and actively participated in Orsay and Grenoble to their developments. With the Orsay EBIS we observed for the first time the resonance effects in the dielectronic recombination process, and in 1990 with the ECR source of Grenoble discovered the hollow atoms . Since that time we only concentrated to the study of the hollow atoms, the physics of of the interactions of the slow highly charged ions with surfaces as well as their applications.



Post ‘retirement’ business

I officially retired in October 2001.

In years 2002 to 2004 I continued to carry out experiments on the basic processes of interaction of Highly Charged Ions with surfaces with my last students: in Grenoble, Ganil, and in collaboration with the Livermore National Lab., Berkeley National Lab.

 The Jussieu campus has been closed in 2005, for removing asbestos and for renovation. I have then left Jussieu at that time. I am presently Emeritus Professor and member of the Kasltler Brossel Laboratory of Ecole Normale Supérieure. Owing to the difficult time experienced by all my colleagues during their exodus from Jussieu for an unknown period of time, I have not requested any office anywhere, and my headquarter is now in the Paris suburb in Antony

At the time the US Company Berkeley Ion Equipments (BIE) headed by Dan Xie I worked for, closed its site in Santa Clara I inherited of quite a lot of equipments that allowed me to continue doing experiments on the hollow atoms, and in a more general way on the interaction of Highly Charged Ions on surfaces, in various places: Antony, Berkeley, Reno…

In parallel I founded in 2005 my own micro-company: ISAP (Ions Surfaces Advanced Processes) to pursue my business on the industrial applications of the interaction of HCI on surfaces. After the bankruptcy of the X-ion Company which owned the licences of the patents I took in 1976 with my University on the surface modifications induced by highly charged ions these licences became again pending and given to a French Company interested in developing the patented techniques. This Company SEPH (Société d’Etudes PHysiques), to which my lab collaborated with for years, is located in Evry (30 km south of Paris) and specialized in the business of solid detectors for X and γ rays and x ray tubes. I am working part of my time with them to promote and improve the considered patents.