The atomic probe is a unique scientific instrument: it makes it possible to analyze the composition of a material on an atomic scale and to obtain a 3D model of the arrangement of atoms at the heart of matter. Its origins date back to the 1960s, when Erwin Muller (Univ.of Pennstate) developed the ion microscope to observe atoms in their individuality. The evolution of this technique will be linked to the Material Physics Group, founded by Jean Gallot at the University of Rouen. When he came back from England, where he became interested in ion micrography, Gallot decided to set up a team to create the first French atomic probe.
The key players of this scientific project describe the operation principle of the instrument. They discuss the evolution brought to this large piece of equipment and the difficulties of development resulting from the poor funding of the laboratory. The versatility of the teams and their know-how have been recognized by the international scientific community.