Yves Petroff nominated as Director of the Brazilian Synchrotron


On 29 August 2018, former ESRF Director General, Yves Petroff, was nominated as Director of the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS). The LNLS operates the only synchrotron light source in Latin American, UVX.

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In early 2019, UVX will be succeeded by a new, 4th generation synchrotron, Sirius. Starting with six beamlines in the first year of operation, 6 more in the second and 6 others in the third, this will open new perspectives of research in many fields including materials science, nanotechnology, biotechnology and environmental science.

Yves Petroff directed the ESRF during the inaugural years from 1993-2001, managing the growth of the facility and an increase in the number of ESRF beamlines from 15 in 1994 to 40 in 1998. His experience as ESRF Director General at the critical outset of the institute draws parallels with his new mission at LNLS.

“The ESRF was the world’s first third generation synchrotron and it was a very exciting experience back then to see it exceed all specifications and produce remarkable science. With Sirius, it’s the same: the fact that we can build a 4th generation machine in Brazil, with state-of-the-art developments, and open it to the many excellent scientists in Latin America is something no one would have believed several years ago, but it is due to the high quality of the staff,” says Petroff.

On leaving the ESRF in 2001, Yves Petroff took up an advisory role at the Brazilian Synchrotron LNLS, in Campinas, Sao Paolo. He held the office of Scientific Director there from 2009 to 2013 and remained close to the facility in the ensuing years. “I know the LNLS very well and I’m happy here because I enjoy challenges. The biggest of those today is to ensure that we produce exciting science with the new machine. Sirius is a miracle for Brazil and it will have taken just over 4 years between ground-breaking and the first beam. The building is almost finished, and the booster and ring are under installation.  We expect the first electrons in the booster in November and the commissioning of the storage ring in 2019. The commissioning of the beamlines will start with 50 mA and reach 350 mA after the installation of the superconducting cavities. User operation is planned for July 2020.”

 Yves Petroff is one of the world’s leading experts on synchrotron radiation. His long career has been motivated by a no-nonsense approach to producing excellent science and to promoting the development and recognition of synchrotron radiation research. His work has often taken him from one side of the Atlantic to the other, proving the universality of the language of science.

Yves Petroff graduated with a doctorate in physics from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, then worked at the University of California, Berkeley in the 70s. In 1975, he returned to France to work in one of the world’s first synchrotrons, ACO, in Orsay. He was deputy Director of LURE (Laboratoire pour l’utilisation du rayonnement électromagnétique) from 1977-1980, and then Director of LURE from 1980 to 1990. He was nominated as ESRF Director General in 1993, leading the facility until 2001. During his office at the ESRF, he set up the guest-house system to accommodate users on site, as well as developing strong in-house research and post-doc programmes that ensured the recruitment of top quality researchers from the best European laboratories.  From the ESRF, he went to the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA, before crossing the Atlantic again to work at the French Ministry of Research, in charge of large scientific facilities. From 2005-2008, he was a member of the European Scientific Forum for Research Infrastructure (ESFRI).

In addition to his research and management activities, Yves Petroff was president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) from 2002 to 2005.

Yves Petroff is knight of the Legion of Honour and is decorated by the Order of Academic Palms. He also received the Robin prize from the French Physical Society and the Bequerel prize from the Academy of Sciences.

Top image: Yves Petroff ¬©Etienne Bouy