Proposal Types

Beam time on the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) instruments is granted through a proposal submission process. HFIR and SNS offer two modes of access and five types of proposals to meet research needs and best utilize instruments and resources. Please review the description for each proposal type to determine which is best suited for your research.

For Industrial research, visit the Industrial Applications Program for information on collaborations.


Access Mode Proposal Type Who can apply Duration Available Instruments Who reviews and approves?
Proposal Call General User All Single cycle All External Peer Review and Internal Science Management
Programmatic All Up to six consecutive cycles (three years) All External Peer Review and Internal Science Management
Rapid Mail-In All One day BL-1B NOMAD
Internal Science Management
Proof-of-Principle All One day All Internal Science Management
Discretionary Time Neutron Sciences Staff (external Principle Investigator/collaborators may participate) Single cycle All Internal Science Management


Proposal Call Access

HFIR and SNS offer two proposals calls each year. Selected proposals that are submitted during these proposal calls will be allocated beam time during the next run cycles at HFIR or SNS.

General User Proposals

General User proposals provide access to individuals and groups who require the HFIR and/or SNS instruments to carry out their research in a single cycle.

General User proposals are peer reviewed and recommended for beam time by an external peer review, a team of external scientists with expertise in various research fields related to neutron scattering. Internal science management designates final beam time allocations for the selected proposals.

Programmatic Proposals

Programmatic proposals are used for experiments requiring access to beam time for more than one cycle and sometimes multiple beam lines. Beam time is limited to six consecutive cycles, currently three years, with a progress report required after each cycle.

The proposer must justify in their proposal why the research cannot be accomplished effectively or efficiently by a General User proposal in a single cycle. Justifications may include, but are not limited to, student theses or specific project completion periods.

Programmatic proposals are reviewed and recommended for beam time by an external peer review, and Internal science management allocates initial beam time. After the initial approval, programmatic users must submit a progress report during each subsequent proposal call to provide an experiment update and verify the instrument(s) and days requested for the upcoming cycle. Progress reports are reviewed and further beam time is allocated by an internal review process.


Rapid Access

Rapid Access proposals grant beam time to potential high-impact science outside of the periodic proposal calls. They are reviewed and allocated beam time by internal science management.

Mail-In Proposals

Mail-In proposals are limited to one day experiments, in which users send samples by mail for instrument staff to collect data on the user's behalf. It is anticipated Mail-In experiments will lead to a publication.

Currently, Mail-In proposals are only accepted at POWGEN and NOMAD. For more information on Mail-In experiments, visit the POWGEN and NOMAD pages.

Proof-of-Principle Proposals

Proof-of-Principle proposals are available for testing the feasibility of a potential experiment prior to submitting a full proposal. The experiment is limited to one day and cannot require a complex sample environment.

Discretionary Time Proposals

Discretionary Time proposals are reserved for research with the potential to further national scientific agenda, industrial partnerships, collaborations, and development of the instrument, sample environment, or technique.

External scientists interested in submitting a proposal for Discretionary beam time must submit in partnership with an ORNL Neutron Sciences staff member. After discussing the experiment with an instrument scientist, users can create a proposal in IPTS, which the partnering staff member will submit.