Comic Book: Travelling along Channels, Confined Liquids Seen by Neutrons

Diving into the world of the infinitely small, this open access comic book, created during the time of the French lockdown in 2020, invites us to discover how matter can change their properties if it is also confined... in extremely small volumes.

Lockdown project in the nanoworld: when physicists start making comics

This is the story of a true scientific research that a team of physicists, chemists and technicians has been conducting over the last few years. It has resulted in a comic book that takes us behind the scene thanks to Mouse, a mischievous cat who can move from the laboratory world to the nanoworld of atoms without any trouble. This cat, together with three scientists who take part in the story, takes us on an adventure to discover the extraordinary phenomenon of the infinitely small, which is observed with the neutron beams generated in the reactor Orphée in Saclay: in the confined nanoworld, ice melts at -30°C, water and alcohol blended in a cocktail start to dissociate...The scientific study of these strange phenomenon offers numerous applications, from catalysis to biotechnology, including the desalination of sea water and pollution control.

This is the fourth book in a series of comic books created by the Laboratory Léon Brillouin (Saclay). It was prepared in collaboration with Aurélie Bordenave, an illustrator specialised in scientific communication. The book was co-produced by the Institute of Physics of Rennes (Université de Rennes 1/CNRS) and the French Federation of Neutron Scattering. It is intended for all those who would like to discover science in an understandable, humorous and scientifically accurate way, bearing in mind the complexity of the concepts behind this research.

Released in French in June 2021, the comic book is also available in English since December 2021. It can be downloaded for free from the CEA website.


A cat and its owner explore channels, dug in a porous material, and filled with liquids. This journey, with many twists and turns, leads them to discover the fascinating properties of confined liquids, revealed by the radiation of a neutron source. These properties have applications, for example in desalinating sea-water. Captured on the spot by a comic strip born when the authors were themselves confined during a coronavirus lockdown, their adventure follows the story of a scientific research project, which requires imagination on their part, risk-taking, collaboration and critical thinking. Confinement also has its advantages !



Voyage en canaux. Des liquides confinés vus par les neutrons
Travelling along channels. Confined liquids seen by neutrons

Denis Morineau, Director of Research at the CNRS. Physico-chemist at the Institute of Physics of Rennes;
Isabelle Mirebeau, Director of Research at the CNRS. Physicist at the Léon Brillouin Laboratory;
Christiane Alba-Simionesco, Director of Research at the CNRS. Physico-chemist at the Laboratoire Léon Brillouin;
Aurélie Bordenave, designer-illustrator, in scientific mediation;
(2021), Laboratoire Léon Brillouin, Fédération française de diffusion neutronique, 16 pages.