Neutron Science

Neutron Scattering Science

Neutrons are one of the fundamental particles that make up matter and have properties that make them ideal for certain types of research. In the universe, neutrons are abundant, making up more than half of all visible matter.

Neutron scattering provides information about the positions, motions, and magnetic properties of solids. When a beam of neutrons is aimed at a sample, many neutrons will pass through the material. But some will interact directly with atomic nuclei and "bounce" away at an angle, like colliding balls in a game of pool. This behavior is called neutron diffraction, or neutron scattering.

Using detectors, scientists can count scattered neutrons, measure their energies and the angles at which they scatter, and map their final position (shown as a diffraction pattern of dots with varying intensities). In this way, scientists can glean details about the nature of materials ranging from liquid crystals to superconducting ceramics, from proteins to plastics, and from metals to micelles to metallic glass magnets.

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