Exceptional research infrastructures

The CNRS Institute of Chemistry (INC) represents the CNRS within very large research infrastructures (TGIR) and steers certain research infrastructures (IR). These are equipped with exceptional equipment that is generally expensive and needs sophisticated scientific and technical skills. These infrastructures benefit different scientific communities.

Four national networks of analysis and characterization tools

The CNRS has created four research infrastructures in analytical techniques. They are steered by the organization via the INC in conjunction with its academic partners. This provides these networks, whose sites are spread over the whole country, with a national consistency and visibility.

Very high field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR – THC)

This research infrastructure is made up of very high field NMR spectrometers located in seven laboratories. This is at the origin of the first 1 GHz spectrometer in Europe – still the most powerful in the world – and is currently piloting the installation of a 1.2 GHz spectrometer expected for 2020 in Lille. The latter will enable the IR to retain its place at the forefront of the world. This IR contributes strongly to advances in research in health and the environment, but also information and nanotechnologies. It is involved in partnerships with competitiveness clusters such as the Elastopole, Cosmetic Valley and Maud, as well as with Carnot institutes and industrial firms (Michelin, Alcan, Cephalon etc.).

National Network of Interdisciplinary Electronic Paramagnetic Resonance (Renard)

This research infrastructure is based on a technique related to NMR. It networks the advanced electronic paramagnetic resonance equipment (imaging, pulsed EPR, etc.) of French laboratories and the expert teams in this technique to accommodate users. The research carried out within the IR allows the study of complex systems (materials, environments, biomolecular systems, rocks and natural environments etc.) in the fields of energy, environment, life, health, ICTs, but also cultural heritage. The IR platforms demonstrate academic openness, but have also forged links with industrial companies such as Total, Hutchinson, Sanofi, l’Oréal. They also maintain collaborative projects with the Cnes and IRSN.

National FT-ICR Very High Field Mass Spectrometry Network (FT-ICR)

The high magnetic fields generated by the available instruments allow users to measure molecular masses at extremely high resolution. Due to this IR, users can study complex mixtures, for example in the fields of fuel, environment metabolomics or molecular imaging. But in addition they can study rare or unique samples, such as cultural heritage materials. The IR sites have established industrial collaborations with companies such as Total, EDF, Véolia, Sanofi, etc. Furthermore, the IR is involved in regional projects such as the Verbilor project (Energy development in a high-temperature biomass reactor in Lorraine) in Metz or the iInstitute of energy transition IfmasFMAS (French Institute of agro-sourced materials) in Lille. Two IR sites are at the origin of the creation of a European network of mass spectrometry platforms modelled on the French system and steered by France.

ChemBioFrance, for the discovery of bioactive molecules


The ChemBioFrance research infrastructure offers modern technologies for the discovery of biologically active molecules to understand the living, cure rare or emerging pathologies, target resistance phenomena and address the question of the quality of life throughout one's existence.

ChemBioFrance relies on four structures to support its services: 

  • The national chemical library, a set of more than 70,000 molecules and 15,000 natural extracts, constituted by public laboratories and certified iso 9001 for the "made to measure" management and distribution of molecules to the users.
  • A chemoinformatics network distributed on 6 sites (Strasbourg, Nice, Marseille, Montpellier, Orléans, Paris), spécialized in i) modelling of chemical molecules and their physical and biological properties, and ii) virtual screening.
  • A network of screening platforms (Strasbourg, Roscoff, Paris, Grenoble, Marseille, Montpellier, Lille) all labelled and capable of covering the set of technologies used in the discovery of bioactive molecules.
  • A network of ADME toxicology platforms (Strasbourg, Lille, Saclay) that carries out studies of absorption, distribution, metabolism/elimination and toxicology of new molecules.

 This set of resources is accessible to researchers in the public and private sectors as either services or collaborations.

The chemists' communities are also major users of the platforms of the network of electronic microscopy and atomic probing (Metsa), steered by the CNRS Institute of Physics, and of the accelerator network for studies of materials under irradiation (Emir) steered by the CNRS National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3).

These research infrastructures are closely linked. They provide a continuum of high performance characterisation techniques that are very complimentary to users from a variety of scientific communities: biologists, physicists, chemists, researchers in sciences of the environment, etc.