Neutrons for New Discoveries and Solutions

Breakthroughs in medicine, energy, technology, and industry follow advances in the understanding of materials. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is at the US epicenter for one of the most powerful techniques exploring the nature of materials and energy—neutron scattering.

ORNL hosts two of the world’s most powerful sources of neutrons for research: the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). Neutrons have no electrical charge, which allows them to easily and safely pass through a sample, revealing information about the material’s structure and properties.

Neutron scattering is used in many industries—automotive, aerospace, steel, defense, industrial materials, energy storage, data storage, biomedicine, and others—to address the 21st century’s major scientific challenges.

Discoveries fueled by neutron research at ORNL help scientists answer big science questions and spur countless innovations such as stronger glass for mobile devices, drugs that more effectively treat diseases, more reliable aircraft and rocket engines, cars with better gas mileage, improved armor for the military, and batteries that are safer, charge faster, and last longer.