Wednesday, June 04, 2014

European Spallation Source

This is an article on the ESS, currently under construction in Lund, Sweden. This facility, when finished, will rival the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

I'm highlighting this because not many people are aware of the use of neutrons as a device to study other things. The article mentioned two different types of neutron source facilities (reactor and spallation), and also a paragraph on the usefulness of neutrons as a tool:

Neutrons have properties that make them indispensable as tools in modern research. They have wavelengths and energies such that objects can be studied with a spatial resolution between 10–10 m and 10–2 m, and with a time resolution between 10–12 s and 1 s. These length- and time-scales are relevant for dynamic processes in bio-molecules, pharmaceuticals, polymers, catalysts and many types of condensed matter. In addition, neutrons interact quite weakly with matter, so they can penetrate large objects, allowing the study of materials surrounded by vacuum chambers, cryostats, magnets or other experimental equipment. Moreover, in contrast to the scattering of light, neutrons interact with atomic nuclei, so that neutron scattering is sensitive to isotope effects. As an extra bonus, neutrons also have a magnetic moment, which makes them a unique probe for investigations of magnetism.

I had linked a while back on a very good article on the usefulness of neutrons, which is often overlooked.


1 comment:

Hamish said...

And to top it all off, ultracold neutrons can also be used to study important aspects of particle physics and cosmology: