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Neutrons in the News

Science & Technology Research News

Precision Experiment First to Isolate, Measure Weak Force Between Protons, Neutrons

A team of scientists has for the first time measured the elusive weak interaction between protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. They had chosen the simplest nucleus consisting of one neutron and one proton for the study.


Through a unique neutron experiment at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, experimental physicists resolved the weak force between the particles at the atom’s core, predicted in the Standard Model that describes the elementary particles and their interactions.


Their result is sensitive to subtle aspects of the strong force between nuclear particles, which is still poorly understood.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Cold neutrons used in hot pursuit of better thermoelectrics

Thermoelectric devices are highly versatile, with the ability to convert heat into electricity, and electricity into heat. They are small, lightweight, and extremely durable because they have no moving parts, which is why they have been used to power NASA spacecraft on long-term missions, including the Voyager space probes launched in 1977.


Because applying an electrical current to a thermoelectric causes charged particles to diffuse from the material’s hot side to their cold side, they are widely used in cooling applications to pull heat out of systems, such as in heat pumps, fiber-optic devices, and car seats—and to control the temperature of battery packs. The process is also reversible and can effectively reclaim “waste heat” to...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Seeing a salt solution’s structure supports one hypothesis about how minerals form

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutrons, isotopes and simulations to “see” the atomic structure of a saturated solution and found evidence supporting one of two competing hypotheses about how ions come together to form minerals.


The study, reported in The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, may improve understanding of ion–water interactions in catalysis, environmental remediation and industrial engineering.


“The precise measurement we made has implications for all kinds of mineral formation reactions and waste issues in subsurface geologic environments, such as those containing nuclear wastes or hydraulic fracturing fluids,” said ORNL geochemist Hsiu-Wen Wang. “Bringing together...


Insights into the behaviour of structural materials in a molten salt environment

An international team of researchers led by ANSTO has found that cold-rolling increases the susceptibility of materials to molten salt corrosion by an increase in grain boundary length, and other microstructural defects, which typically contribute to material strengthening.


Dr. Ondrej Muránsky, Lead, High Temperature and Molten Salt Corrosion Performance of Advanced Materials, Nuclear Fuel Cycle at ANSTO and Ms Mia Maric (both pictured above) said that this research has relevance for future Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), Concentrated Solar Thermal (CST) as well as Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems currently under development.


The study, which was published in Corrosion Science, was done on 316L Stainless Steel which is...


Neutrons scan magnetic fields inside samples

With a newly developed neutron tomography technique, an HZB team has mapped for the first time magnetic field lines inside materials at the BER II research reactor. Tensorial neutron tomography promises new insights into superconductors, battery electrodes and other energy-related materials.


Measuring magnetic fields inside samples has only been possible indirectly up to now. Magnetic orientations can be scanned with light, X-rays or electrons—but only on the surfaces of materials. Neutrons, on the other hand, penetrate deeply into the sample, and, thanks to their own magnetic orientation, can provide precise information about the magnetic fields inside. So far, however, it has only been possible to approximate the variously aligned...


Newly discovered magnetic state could lead to green IT solutions

Magnetic skyrmions are magnetic swirls that may lead to new solutions combining low-energy consumption with high-speed computational power and high-density data storage, revolutionizing information technology. A team from Delft University of Technology, in collaboration with the University of Groningen and Hiroshima University, has discovered a new, unexpected magnetic state, which is related to these skyrmions. The findings open up new ways to create and manipulate complex magnetic structures in view of future IT applications.


A magnetic skyrmion is a quasiparticle, a magnetic swirl, which, once created, is highly stable and cannot collapse. Moreover, skyrmions are tiny and can travel through materials nearly unimpeded, much like...

ISIS Neutron & Muon Source

Neutrons – a breath of fresh air for the offshore wind turbine industry

ENGIN-X has helped tackle one of the most pressing concerns facing the offshore wind turbine industry – the assessment of the structural integrity of turbine foundations.


If you're lucky enough to have visited the British coast this summer you may have noticed a prominent feature on the horizon – an offshore wind farm. Back in 2010 offshore wind farms were something of a rarity, supplying just 3% of Britain's electricity needs. But this figure is on the rise, and by 2030 we anticipate up to a third of the UK's electricity will be provided by offshore wind power.


Our growing need for offshore wind power presents many challenges to the energy industry, not least because of their colossal size. “Without resilient foundations to...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons produce first direct 3D maps of water during cell membrane fusion

New 3D maps of water distribution during cellular membrane fusion are accelerating scientific understanding of cell development, which could lead to new treatments for diseases associated with cell fusion. Using neutron diffraction at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers have made the first direct observations of water in lipid bilayers used to model cell membrane fusion. 


The research, published in Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, could provide new insights into diseases in which normal cell fusion is disrupted, such as Albers-Schönberg disease (osteopetrosis), help facilitate the development of fusion-based cell therapies for degenerative diseases, and lead to treatments that prevent cell-to...


World speed record for polymer simulations shattered by over a hundred-fold

From a humble plastic bag to ultra-light airplane wings, polymers are everywhere. These molecules are long chains of atoms that play many roles for good and bad, from organic photovoltaics to indestructible plastic pollution. Polymers are useful in liquid form, as well: The difference between tomato puree and ketchup is merely 0.5 percent of xanthan gum, which is a polymer made from sugar. Ketchup is thick but not sticky, thanks to xanthan chains that are so long that they interpenetrate and form an entangled web that resists flow. The same principle also underpins high-tech applications like ink jet printing.


It is possible to decrease the amount of thickening additives without compromising their effect on flow, which would save...

ISIS Neutron & Muon Source

Neutrons and muons: history, mystery and science meet

It seems strange to consider that neutrons and muons, discovered in the 1930s, should be used to investigate artefacts dating as far back as 10,000 BCE, however such work has been done here at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source.


However both neutrons and muons are now being used as powerful tools to probe the past, due to their non-destructive and penetrating nature, allowing researchers to look deep inside historical artefacts to uncover the mysteries that lie within - without causing damage to the object.


Instruments have been used, each with unique capabilities. ENGIN-X measures the stresses and strains within samples at the atomic level, IMAT utilises neutron imaging, INES and GEM use neutron diffraction techniques, and...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

All Aboard the Neutron Train: Mapping Residual Stresses for More Robust Rails

Railway rails are designed to endure years of heavy loads and different operating conditions. However, over time, contact forces between the rails and the wheels of trains can cause significant wear and tear on the rails, which then must be replaced to ensure safety and reliability.


Researchers from Transportation Technology Center Inc. (TTCI) are analyzing new and used rail segments with neutrons at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). TTCI is the Association of American Railroads’ research subsidiary in North America, serving the entire North American railroad industry. After studying the rails at its 2.7 mile-long railroad heavy freight testing loop outside Pueblo, Colorado, TTCI is using...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Two Steps Ahead: Neutrons Help Explore Future HIV Treatments

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a quick learner. As fast as researchers get effective anti-viral drugs into clinical trials, the virus evolves, deploying potent resistance mutations that render the medicine useless and put researchers back at square one.


Kushol Gupta hopes to beat HIV’s defenses. A research assistant professor from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, Gupta recently concluded an experiment at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) he hopes will improve allosteric inhibitors of integrase (ALLINIs), a new class of HIV-fighting drug that inhibits the virus’s ability to reproduce.


“If we can stay two steps ahead of the virus by anticipating the...

Physics World

Could skyrmions solve the baryogenesis problem?

Magnetic nanoparticles known as skyrmions and their antiparticle equivalents can behave very differently, according to new calculations by researchers in Sweden, Germany and France. This unexpected new finding could have important consequences for any potential technologies involving these particles, such as new generation data storage and information processing devices.


Skyrmions are swirling vortex-like magnetic spin structures that extend across a few nanometres in a material and can be likened to 2D knots in which the magnetic moments rotate about 360° within a plane. They are now known to occur in many materials and were first observed in experiments about 10 years ago. They show much promise as the building blocks for next...

SciTech Europa

Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and ESRF collaborate on space technologies

Professor Helmut Schober, director of the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) discusses a new partnership between the ILL and the ESRF and leading European space companies to tackle industry challenges.


The Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) have recently announced that they are teaming up with leading European space companies OHB System AG and MT Aerospace AG to tackle industry challenges. They join forces to advance the characterisation of aerospace materials and make fabrication processes more efficient by probing matter with X-rays and neutrons.


Space exploration has led to many societal benefits that have vastly improved quality of life on Earth. The first satellites contributed...

ISIS Neutron & Muon Source

Improving the efficiency of engine fuel delivery – one neutron at a time

Scientists from City, University of London and Lubrizol Limited have been using neutron technology at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source to test the role that modern additives have in increasing the efficiency of fuel injectors. 


​Scientists from City, University of London and Lubrizol Limited have been using neutron technology at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source to test the role that modern additives play in reducing flow losses – and therefore increasing the efficiency of fuel injectors, in engines fuelled with diesel or biodiesel. 


The Basics of Fuel Injection 

Fuel injection, i.e. the process of delivering fuel to an internal combustion engine was introduced in the mid-1920s.  The purpose of the system was to deliver...


STFC’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source celebrates ten years since the first neutrons were detected in its Second Target Station (TS2)

Today (3 August 2018), STFC’s  ISIS Neutron and Muon Source celebrates ten years since the first neutrons were detected in its Second Target Station (TS2). That’s ten years of research in everything from cleft palate and antibiotics to solar energy and new battery technologies.


An online TS2 blog from that exact day 10 years ago had this entry for 3 August 2008:

“After several hours of work this morning scanning the shutter, the beamline suddenly came into alignment at 13:08 and neutrons were measured. So many neutrons flooded down the beamline that the gas tube detector went off the scale. There are a lot of very relieved and jubilant people in the Inter control room!”


Since then the facility has grown into one that has...

Institut Laue-Langevin

First study of galectin proteins with neutrons, guiding future drug development

Galectins attach to other proteins via the carbohydrates on their surfaces (sugar-binding proteins). As such they impact on a range of processes in the cell associated with a number of diseases, including heart disease and breast cancer – the most common cancer in women worldwide, with 1.7 million new cases diagnosed in 2012 alone.


Understanding how galectins bind to and distinguish between different sugars can help guide the design of new molecules that act as inhibitors – blocking this process, and therefore limiting the development of certain diseases. However, researchers are only beginning to get the full picture of the binding patterns involved and the exact details of the interactions between different sugars and the protein...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

SNS completes full neutron production cycle at record power level

The Spallation Neutron Source at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has reached a new milestone by operating a complete neutron production run cycle at 1.3 megawatts.


Achieving the record power level with a remarkable 94 percent accelerator beam availability establishes a new baseline of operation as well as a path to operate reliably at higher powers. Increased power offers researchers the ability to conduct faster scientific analyses using neutrons on more types of materials.


SNS, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, began operations in 2006 and is currently the world’s most powerful pulsed accelerator-based neutron scattering facility, used by scientists to reveal fundamental properties and behaviors of...

Journal of Archaeological Science

The investigation of Indian and central Asian swords and through neutron methods

  • The morphological and microstructural features of wootz steel were analyzed.
  • Analysis was performed by using non-destructive neutron methods: neutron imaging and neutron diffraction.
  • Specific microstructural features in steel were identified as anisotropy in cementite and its specific spatial distribution.

In this work we present the analysis of the micro-structural features of ancient Indian blades carried out by neutron tomography and neutron diffraction. The results provide a clear identification of the different types of steel used to produce such weapons. Among them, only a small proportion of the large number of swords produced in India were made of hypereutectoid patterned steel, namely wootz, also (misleadingly) known as...

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science

Surface and bulk properties of surfactants used in fire-fighting


Reports on the colloidal and interfacial properties of fluorocarbon (FC) surfactants used in fire-fighting foam formulations are rare. This is primarily because these formulations are complex mixtures of different hydrocarbon (HC) and fluorocarbon (FC) surfactants. By developing a greater understanding of the individual properties of these commercial FC surfactants, links can be made between structure and respective surface/ bulk behaviour. Improved understanding of structure property relationships of FC surfactants will therefore facilitate the design of more environmentally responsible surfactant replacements.



Surface properties of three partially fluorinated technical grade surfactants were determined...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Gold ore’s chemical cousin helps reveal family secrets

“The holy grail is to identify and understand the fundamental connection between magnetism and superconductivity,” said Yu Song, a researcher at UC–Berkeley. “If we can determine how the magnetic behavior of materials like iron telluride leads to superconducting properties, we can perhaps identify a common mechanism for all superconductivity, even at higher temperatures. This would be a huge advance toward developing more practical and affordable superconducting technologies that could dramatically increase the electrical efficiency of the world’s power systems.”


Iron tellurides are gold-free minerals that are chemical cousins to rich g­­old-bearing tellurides—high-grade ores long prized by gold miners. Today, the poorer cousin...


Possible breakthrough in understanding how antibiotics treat bacteria

Scientists from Newcastle University and the UK's ISIS Neutron and Muon research facility have worked together on a new project that is increasing our understanding of how antibiotics treat bacteria.


With the number of antibiotic resistant bacteria increasing in recent years, the ability to develop a way to combat this resistance could be essential for our future health.


The team used a technique known as neutron reflectometry at STFC's ISIS facility in Oxfordshire to examine how Polymyxin B, a last resort antibiotic, interacts with the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. These hardy bacteria are responsible for life-threatening diseases like pneumonia and meningitis, making them key targets for clinical research.


Science Daily

Dark energy? No sign of symmetrons

A high-precision experiment has set its sights on pinpointing the so-far hypothetical


One thing is certain: there's something out there we don't yet know. For years now scientists have been looking for "dark matter" or "dark energy"—with our current inventory of particles and forces in nature we just can't explain major cosmological phenomena, such as why the universe is expanding at an ever faster rate.


New theories for "dark energy" have been suggested. One of the candidates is the so-called "symmetron field," which is said to pervade space much like the Higgs field. At the Technical University of Vienna researchers have developed an experiment capable of measuring extremely small forces with the help of neutrons. The...

Oak Ridge National Lab

Neutrons analyze advanced high-strength steels to improve vehicle safety and efficiency

The demand for lighter, stronger, and more durable materials for use in vehicles has never been higher. Companies are looking at new and advanced materials such as lightweight advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) to develop automotive components that help increase gas efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and save lives.


Researchers from the United States Steel Corporation (USS) recently used neutrons at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source to better understand the properties of hydroformed AHSS and how it responds to residual stress introduced during manufacturing.


“Because this is a new material containing retained austenite, we need to have a better understanding of its performance,” said Lu Huang...

SciTech Europa

Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time, a team of researchers have discovered two different magnetic skyrmion phases in a single material, leading to a better understanding of magnetic structures.


Researchers from Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne, Germany, have discovered the two magnetic skyrmion phases and can now better study the properties of the structures.


Similar structures to that of a whirlpool can be observed in magnetic materials. Magnetic whirls are formed when the magnetic moments are aligned in a circular fashion. These so-called skyrmions are not just interesting for basic research – because of their stability and their tiny dimensions – but they could be key for the development of future...

Frontiers in Energy Research

New Opportunities for Air Cathode Batteries; in-Situ Neutron Diffraction Measurements

Batteries with air electrodes are gaining interest as Energy Storage Systems (ESSs) for Electrical Vehicles (EVs) because of their high specific energy density.


The electrochemical performance of these batteries is limited by the metallic electrode, which suffers structural transformations and corrosion during cycling that reduces the cycle life of the battery. In this context, relevant information on the discharge products may be obtained by in-situ neutron diffraction, a suitable technique to study electrodes that contain light elements or near neighbor elements in the periodic table. Case studies of MH-air and Fe-air batteries are highlighted.


Air cathode-based batteries are promising energy storage systems for Electrical...

SciTech Europa

Big science and industry join forces to innovate new space technologies

The Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) team up with leading European space companies OHB System AG and MT Aerospace AG to tackle industry challenges and innovate new space technologies.


This collaboration in big science comes as the companies work to innovate new space technologies, working specifically to advance the characterisation of aerospace materials and make fabrication processes more efficient by probing matter with x-rays and neutrons.


Space exploration has led to many societal benefits that have improved quality of life on Earth, for example, the first satellites contributed to knowledge and capabilities for:

  • Telecommunications;
  • Global positioning; and
  • Advances...

Technical University of Munich

New Insights into the Maturation of miRNAs

Elucidating the maturation mechanism of a cancer-causing microRNA


An international research team has used a structural biological approach to elucidate the maturation of a cancer-causing microRNA in gene regulation. In the future, the authors hope to develop new therapies based on their findings.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of molecules consisting of short RNA sequences that inhibit the formation of certain proteins by destroying the corresponding RNA blueprint.


Cancer-causing miRNAs, so-called oncomiRs, also function according to this principle and inhibit the production of proteins that protect the cell against uncontrolled growth. 


"Thus, an increased presence of these molecules in cells leads to the...

Scientific Reports

Lithium-ion conducting oxide single crystal as solid electrolyte for advanced lithium battery application

We are the first to successfully grow centimeter-sized single crystals of garnet-type by the floating zone method.


Today, all-solid-state secondary lithium-ion batteries have attracted attention in research and development all over the world as a next-generation energy storage device. A key material for the all-solid-state lithium batteries is inorganic solid electrolyte, including oxide and sulfide materials.


Among the oxide electrolytes, garnet-type oxide exhibits the highest lithium-ion conductivity and a wide electrochemical potential window. However, they have major problems for practical realization.


One of the major problems is an internal short-circuit in charging and discharging. In the polycrystalline...

ISIS Neutron & Muon Source

The sword and the neutron - specific use of Bronze Age Swords confirmed by neutron technology

Scientists have been using the latest science to reveal the specific usage of Bronze Age swords dating back to 1400 BCE.


​For years, archaeologists have struggled to fully differentiate between swords forged with different offensive styles of attack in mind.


In order to learn more about these precious artefacts, one must take samples, which can be a very challenging procedure when you are dealing with an incredibly fragile, 3000 year old specimen that is the only one of its kind in the world. Traditional, destructive sampling techniques have thus restricted experiments to a bare minimum and only permitted analysis in special, one-off cases.


Nowadays, thanks to some phenomenal physics, scientists can provide definite...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons—Making sustainable biofuels

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are using neutrons to understand why certain hydrocarbons produced by blue-green algae are important to their biology, so new strains can be engineered to sustainably produce biofuels.


Neutron scattering makes it possible to non-destructively see inside living algae at real world temperatures and in real time.


“No one has used neutron scattering to test the hypothesized role hydrocarbons in modulating membrane structure in algae,” said Cory Knoot of the Washington University in St. Louis. “Understanding why alkanes are important to cyanobacterial health could make it easier to engineer new strains of the algae that can sustainably produce alkanes as biofuels.”


Knoot used...

Forschungszentrum Jülich

Materials Research for Energy-efficient Magnetic Cooling

Jülich scientist Nikolaos Biniskos together with his colleagues in a Franco-German research team has gained new insights into the inverse magnetocaloric effect with the help of neutron scattering studies. The results could be useful in the search for suitable magnetocaloric materials for energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.


Magnetocaloric materials heat up when they enter a magnetic field, and cool down again when they leave it. This phenomenon can be exploited to produce quiet, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly heating and cooling devices, but the high cost of materials has however severely hampered its wider application in mass-market products. Scientists have known about this effect for more than 100 years...

Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin

Neutron tomography: Insights into the interior of teeth, root balls, batteries, and fuel cells

A team of researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the European Spallation Source (ESS) has now published a comprehensive overview of neutron-based imaging processes in the renowned journal Materials Today (impact factor 21.6). The authors report on the latest developments in neutron tomography, illustrating the possible applications using examples of this non-destructive method. Neutron tomography has facilitated breakthroughs in so diverse areas such as art history, battery research, dentistry, energy materials, industrial research, magnetism, palaeobiology and plant physiology.


Neutrons can penetrate deep into a sample without destroying it. In addition, neutrons can also distinguish between light elements such as...

ISIS Neutron & Muon Source

Neutrons used to study sustainable sugar-based plastic

Researchers have used inelastic neutron scattering to study the properties of a sugar-based plastic that could start to replace conventional plastic bottles in the near future.


Our plastic habit has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as the movement against plastic waste gathers momentum. But it's not just the amount of plastic we produce that's a huge problem – it's how we make it.  Fossil resources provide the feedstock materials for plastics and also power the plastic manufacturing processes. The plastic industry requires a staggering amount of oil for this purpose, annually using the same quantity as the global aviation sector.


In order to limit the environmental impact of plastics we must rethink our...

Institut Laue-Langevin

Enzyme associated with stomach cancer and osteoporosis seen in detail for the first time with neutron crystallography

•    The enzyme PKG II is associated with stomach cancer causing 754,000 deaths worldwide  
•    The activation process for the enzyme has been looked at in exceptional detail with neutron crystallography 
•    Understanding such mechanisms will enable future drug development for stomach cancer and osteoporosis 


The enzyme PKG II (protein kinase G II – a cyclic guanosine monophosphate dependent kinase) plays an important role in human health, but can increase the risk of diseases like stomach cancer and osteoporosis if not activated. Stomach cancer kills 754,000 people globally each year  and osteoporosis, which causes weakened bones, affects over 200 million people worldwide , so researchers are keen to understand how this enzyme...

Nature Communications

Absence of dynamic strain aging in an additively manufactured nickel-base superalloy

Dynamic strain aging (DSA), observed macroscopically as serrated plastic flow, has long been seen in nickel-base superalloys when plastically deformed at elevated temperatures.


Here we report the absence of DSA in Inconel 625 made by additive manufacturing (AM) at temperatures and strain rates where DSA is present in its conventionally processed counterpart. This absence is attributed to the unique AM microstructure of finely dispersed secondary phases (carbides, N-rich phases, and Laves phase) and textured grains. Based on experimental observations, we propose a dislocation-arrest model to elucidate the criterion for DSA to occur or to be absent as a competition between dislocation pipe diffusion and carbide–carbon reactions.



Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory made the first observations of waves of atomic rearrangements, known as phasons, propagating supersonically through a vibrating crystal lattice—a discovery that may dramatically improve heat transport in insulators and enable new strategies for heat management in future electronics devices.


“The discovery gives you a different way to control the flow of heat,” said lead author Michael Manley of the paper published in Nature Communications. “It provides a shortcut through the material—a way to send the energy of pure atomic motion at a speed that’s higher than you can with phonons [atomic vibrations]. This shortcut may open possibilities in heat...

Physics World

Liquid mysteries

It’s easy to assume there’s nothing new to learn about liquids. John Proctor explains just how weird liquids can be at high pressures and why this work could shed light on planetary interiors


When I read scientific papers, I often end up pondering questions that are – in the grand scheme of things – mere footnotes and details. Quite simply, I lose sight of the big issues. Fortunately, one benefit of teaching physics to undergraduates, as I do, is that it lets me take a broader perspective. Take the way that textbooks deal with the fundamental differences between the states of matter. While these works contain neat and cohesive descriptions of gases and solids, many struggle with liquids.


Consider David Tabor’s classic book G...

Indiana University

Using a 'magneto-gravitational trap,' IU physicists measure neutrons with unprecedented precision

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—A study led in part by physicists at the Indiana University Center for the Exploration of Energy and Matter could provide new insight into the composition of the universe immediately after the Big Bang—as well as improve calculations used to predict the life span of stars and describe the rules that govern the subatomic world.



The study, published May 11 in the journal Science, reports a highly accurate way to measure the decay rate of neutrons. An author on the study, Chen-Yu Liu, is a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Physics.


"This is a significant improvement compared to previous experiments," said Liu, who is a leader on the UNCtau experiment, which uses...

Université Grenoble Alpes

The apparent inner calm of quantum materials

Physicists from UNIGE, University Grenoble Alpes, CEA and CNRS in Saclay and Grenoble have been the first to confirm a theory on topological phase transitions, a field of research initiated by the 2016 Nobel Prize-winners in physics.


Transitions between different phases of matter are part of our day-to-day lives: when water freezes, for example, it passes from liquid to solid state. Some of these transitions may be of a different kind, resulting from so-called topological excitations that force all the particles to act in unison. Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the CEA,CNRS and UGA have been studying BACOVO – a one-dimensional quantum material unknown to the general public – in collaboration with scientists...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons Provide Insights into Increased Performance for Hybrid Perovskite Solar Cells

Neutron scattering has revealed, in real time, the fundamental mechanisms behind the conversion of sunlight into energy in hybrid perovskite materials. A better understanding of this behavior will enable manufacturers to design solar cells with increased efficiency.


The multi-institutional team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Hunan University and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln used photoluminescence measurements, along with neutron and x-ray scattering, to study the relationship between the material’s microscopic structure and its optoelectronic properties. By examining the material under varying degrees of temperature, the researchers were able to track atomic structural changes and...


Spinach used in neutron studies could unearth secret to stronger plant growth

Plants, algae, and other organisms produce the RuBisCO enzyme to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into energy-rich molecules, like glucose, that form carbohydrates and other organic carbon compounds essential to life on earth.


This catalytic process is called "carbon fixation." A better understanding of the specific activity involved when RuBisCO kick-starts this chemical reaction could be instrumental to enhancing the enzyme's efficiency and facilitating faster plant growth—a desirable result that could increase crop yields while conserving fertilizer and natural resources.


To this end, researchers from Uppsala University are using neutrons at the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)...


UK lab helps reveal secrets of 3000 year old Egyptian vases

Scientists have used neutron techniques at the UK’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source to non-invasively investigate the contents of two containers from the tomb of a married couple who walked the streets of ancient Egypt in 1400BC. This was at a time when Thebes in Egypt was the largest city in the World.


Jump forward 3,500 years to 2018 and UK scientists and their Italian colleagues were able to create reconstructions of the inner parts of both vases to understand their structure and elemental composition without touching, damaging or taking samples from either artefact.


The two vases were discovered in 1906, when the Italian archaeologist Ernesto Schiaparelli and the Inspector of Antiquities at Luxor, Arthur Weigall, opened the...


Unlocking the secrets of ice

The complex properties of water and ice are not well understood but a team from UCL and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source have revealed new information about a phase of ice called ice II.


Given that water makes up 60% of our bodies and is one of the most abundant molecules in the universe, it's no wonder that water is known as the "matrix of life."


There are many different forms of ice – all of which vary significantly from the ice you'd find in your freezer. Ice takes on many different forms depending on the pressure at which it developed.


As water freezes its molecules rearrange themselves, and high pressure causes the molecules to rearrange in different ways than they normally would. The many distinct phases of ice...


Neutrons help demystify multiferroic materials

Materials used in electronic devices are typically chosen because they possess either special magnetic or special electrical properties. However, an international team of researchers using neutron scattering recently identified a rare material that has both.


In their paper published in Advanced Materials, the team, including researchers from the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), illustrates how this unique marriage is achieved in the multiferroic material BiMn3Cr4O12. Many materials are known for just one characteristic magnetic or electrical property, or for having the ability to change shape, but multiferroics contain some combination of these attributes.


Multiferroics are typically...


Neutrino experiments look to reveal big answers about how these fundamental particles interact with matter

Except in horror movies, most scientific experiments don't start with scientists snooping around narrow, deserted hallways. But a tucked-away location in the recesses of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) provided exactly what Yuri Efremenko was looking for.


Efremenko, an ORNL researcher and University of Tennessee at Knoxville professor, is the spokesperson for the COHERENT experiment, which is studying neutrinos. The team uses five particle detectors to identify a specific interaction between neutrinos and atomic nuclei. The most abundant particles in the universe, neutrinos are extremely light and have no electric charge. They interact very little with other particles. In fact, trillions pass...


Condensed Matter Physics: magnetic field drives spins to a liquid

A sufficiently large magnetic field suppresses long-range magnetic order in α-RuCl3, leaving a disordered state with a gapped continuum spectrum of magnetic excitations, similar to that expected for the famous Kitaev quantum spin liquid.


An international team led by Stephen E. Nagler from Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA performed time-of-flight neutron scattering to study low energy magnetic excitations of α-RuCl3. They observed that the application of a sufficiently large magnetic field to this material suppressed spin waves associated with the long-range order, and drove it to an unusual excited state.


By comparison with calculations, these results are consistent with the Kitaev quantum spin liquid state in a...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons Reveal the Wild Weyl World of Semimetals

“Weyl semimetals are kind of the Holy Grail in physics right now,” said Alan Tennant, chief scientist at ORNL’s Neutron Sciences Directorate. “Some of these types of materials are showing quantum behavior at room temperature, which is precisely what has to be achieved to provide a path toward quantum electronics.”


The observation of an abnormal state of matter in a two-dimensional magnetic material is the latest development in the race to harness novel electronic properties for more robust and efficient next-generation devices.


Neutron scattering at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) helped a multi-institutional team led by Tulane University investigate a graphene-like strontium-manganese...


Neutrons turn detective to help us understand how electrons behave in metals

An international team of scientists have utilised the UK’s neutron and muon source, the ISIS facility, to study the structure of electrons in useful materials – such as those with superconductivity or magnetism.


In certain materials, electrons interact with each other very strongly – these are known as strongly correlated electron systems. These materials can have useful properties such as superconductivity or magnetism, and scientists have been studying how such electrons behave for more than five decades to try to unlock their secrets.


The experimental techniques often used to study electrons, such as photoemission spectroscopy, have limitations, but until recently it was not thought to be feasible to measure the...

IFJ PAN / BrightSurf.com

The search for dark matter: Axions have ever fewer places to hide

If they existed, axions - one of the candidates for particles of the mysterious dark matter - could interact with the matter forming our world, but they would have to do this to a much, much weaker extent than it has seemed up to now. New, rigorous constraints on the properties of axions have been imposed by an international team of scientists responsible for the nEDM experiment.

The latest analysis of measurements of the electrical properties of ultracold neutrons published in the scientific journal Physical Review X has led to surprising conclusions. On the basis of data collected in the nEDM (Electric Dipole Moment of Neutron) experiment, an international group of physicists - including the Cracow-based scientists from the Institute...

Quanta Magazine

Neutron Lifetime Puzzle Deepens, but No Dark Matter Seen

Two methods of measuring the neutron's longevity give different answers, creating uncertainty in cosmological models. But no one has a clue what the problem is.


When physicists strip neutrons from atomic nuclei, put them in a bottle, then count how many remain there after some time, they infer that neutrons radioactively decay in 14 minutes and 39 seconds, on average. But when other physicists generate beams of neutrons and tally the emerging protons — the particles that free neutrons decay into — they peg the average neutron lifetime at around 14 minutes and 48 seconds.


The discrepancy between the “bottle” and “beam” measurements has persisted since both methods of gauging the neutron’s longevity began yielding results in...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutron study of glaucoma drugs offers clues about enzyme targets for aggressive cancers

New insights from neutron analysis of glaucoma drugs and their enzyme target may help scientists design drugs that more effectively target aggressive cancers.  


A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used neutron macromolecular crystallography to investigate the different states of three glaucoma drugs as they interact with the targeted enzyme, human carbonic anhydrase II (hCA II).


“Our goal was to observe differences in the presentation of three clinically used glaucoma drugs while they are bound to the hCA II enzyme,” said Andrey Kovalevsky, an instrument scientist at ORNL and a senior co-author of the study. “By looking at how well these drugs target hCA II in protonated...

Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering

Transferrable Skills: Materials Research Fosters Analytical Skills That Reach Well Beyond The Laboratory

By studying soft and biological materials with sophisticated tools like neutron beams, graduate students in biophysics are able to develop advanced analytical skills that can be transferred to a wide range of professional careers in all areas of Canada’s economy.


Choose science” has been the message to young people and their parents from Canada’s Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan. That’s because science not only generates valuable knowledge, it also develops confidence and skills in the young people who participate in the scientific process.


This is especially true of fundamental science, which both challenges and inspires. Some young people are stirred by the prospect of making important scientific discoveries and will...


The effects of pressure on the energy landscape of proteins

Protein dynamics is characterized by fluctuations among different conformational substates, i.e. the different minima of their energy landscape. At temperatures above ~200 K, these fluctuations lead to a steep increase in the thermal dependence of all dynamical properties, phenomenon known as Protein Dynamical Transition.


In spite of the intense studies, little is known about the effects of pressure on these processes, investigated mostly near room temperature.


We studied by neutron scattering the dynamics of myoglobin in a wide temperature and pressure range. Our results show that high pressure reduces protein motions, but does not affect the onset temperature for the Protein Dynamical Transition, indicating that the energy...

Science & Technology Facilities Council (UK)

Studying precious pearls using novel neutron imaging technique

A new, non-destructive neutron technique has been used to study the inner form of one of mankind’s most precious biological objects – the pearl.


This technique could be used to help differentiate between the highly valuable naturally-formed pearls from the less desirable farm-cultured variety.


This imaging study looked at the aptly-named soufflé pearl, which is so-called because of its empty core.


Using the IMAT instrument at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, every square centimetre of pearl sample was bombarded with 5.9 million neutrons per second. A powerful camera was then used to map the neutrons and build a detailed tomographic reconstruction of the pearl.

Scientific American

Missing Neutrons May Lead a Secret Life as Dark Matter

This may be the reason experiments can’t agree on the neutron lifetime, according to a new idea


Neutrons shouldn’t be all that mysterious. Found inside every atomic nucleus, they may seem downright mundane—but they have long confounded physicists who try to measure how long these particles can live outside of atoms. For more than 10 years researchers have tried two types of experiments that have yielded conflicting results. Scientists have struggled to explain the discrepancy, but a new proposal suggests the culprit may be one of the biggest mysteries of all: dark matter.


Scientists are pretty sure the universe contains more matter than the stuff we can see, and their best guess is that it takes the form of invisible...


Hydration structure of reverse osmosis membranes studied via neutron scattering and atomistic molecular simulation

Reverse osmosis (RO) membranes are becoming popular as energy saving and environmentally friendly materials for the desalination of water.


Toward the rational design of RO membranes, we performed contrast-variation neutron scattering measurements and atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations on polyamide/water systems with various water contents and deuteration ratios. The experimental and computational structure factors showed good agreement for all the systems examined.


The structure of the water-rich polyamide/water system obtained from MD calculation showed that the water clusters are well connected to each other, and a relatively large number of water molecules are present at a distance over 3 Å from the polyamide...

IFE Norway

IFE and the JEEP II-research-reactor is an important ally for the ESS

Prof. Andreas Schreyer, The Director of Science at ESS visited the JEEP II-reactor at Kjeller, Norway on January the 23rd. Prof. Schreyer underlined the importance of the JEEP II-reactor. “The JEEP II-reactor produces neutrons, which we need” said Prof. Schreyer. “IFE and the JEEP II-rector are important. The Institute develops instruments which are vital to the ESS. IFE is a recognized partner and we look forward to a long lasting cooperation”.


The Director of Science seemed pleased as he was shown the reactor and it's facilities. Prof. Schreyer was visiting IFE in conjunction with a seminar on the possibilities with neutrons at the European Spallation Source and the upgrade of instrumentation at the JEEP II-reactor.



University of California - Riverside

Using High Pressure to Study Material’s Properties and Innovate Multi-functional Materials

Have you ever wondered how researchers are able to understand and discover different properties of materials?  Prof. Chen Li’s research group in the Mechanical Engineering Department is using high pressure as a tool to (1) understand the physics of fundamental excitations in the materials; (2) tune the properties of existing energy materials; and (3) engineer innovative multi-functional materials through high pressure synthesis or other indirect approaches.


Professor Li’s group uses diamond anvil cells by methods of Raman, X-ray scattering, and neutron scattering to create extreme high pressure up to 100 Gigapascal. This allows the study of lattice dynamics, magnons, and transport properties under extreme conditions. The high...

Physics World

Targeted infection control

Medical devices that incorporate hydrogels into silicone rubber could release antibiotics into areas where they are needed most. Erik Brok, Caroline Boudou, Martin Alm and Peter Thomsen describe how neutron scattering is helping researchers to understand and optimize the structure of these silicone-hydrogel networks.


Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are one of the biggest challenges in modern healthcare. Within this wider problem, urinary-tract infections associated with catheter use are a particular concern: in 2001 a US study found more than half a million cases each year, accounting for approximately 40% of all HAIs (Int. J. Antimicrob. Agents 17 299). Such infections often stem from biofilms that form when a catheter is...

Nature: Materials

Thermochromic halide perovskite solar cells

Smart photovoltaic windows represent a promising green technology featuring tunable transparency and electrical power generation under external stimuli to control the light transmission and manage the solar energy.


Here, we demonstrate a thermochromic solar cell for smart photovoltaic window applications utilizing the structural phase transitions in inorganic halide perovskite caesium lead iodide/bromide. The solar cells undergo thermally-driven, moisture-mediated reversible transitions between a transparent non-perovskite phase (81.7% visible transparency) with low power output and a deeply coloured perovskite phase (35.4% visible transparency) with high power output.


The inorganic perovskites exhibit tunable colours and...

Physica Scripta

The hydrogen anomaly problem in neutron Compton scattering

Neutron Compton scattering (also called 'deep inelastic scattering of neutrons', DINS) is a method used to study momentum distributions of light atoms in solids and liquids. It has been employed extensively since the start-up of intense pulsed neutron sources about 25 years ago.


The information lies primarily in the width and shape of the Compton profile and not in the absolute intensity of the Compton peaks. It was therefore not immediately recognized that the relative intensities of Compton peaks arising from scattering on different isotopes did not always agree with values expected from standard neutron cross-section tables. The discrepancies were particularly large for scattering on protons, a phenomenon that became known as...

Institut Laue-Langevin

Neutrons reveal hidden secrets of the hepatitis C virus

•    p7 is a protein essential for the release of the hepatitis C virus, however little data is currently available on the way it interacts with its environment, hindering the development of vaccinations for it
•    Researchers have observed the structure of a functional p7 protein within its native environment for the first time using reflected neutrons
•    The specific protein insertion mechanism observed will help to outline potential target mechanisms for future drug development


Erik Watkins, former ILL FIGARO Instrument Scientist, said: “This new approach is a simple and efficient method complementary to other structural and more complex techniques such as NMR and crystallography. This has proved a powerful tool for...

Argonne National Laboratory

Breaking bad metals with neutrons

“Neutrons are absolutely essential for this research. Neutron scattering is the only technique that is sensitive to the whole spectrum of electronic fluctuations in four dimensions of momentum and energy, and the only technique that can be reliably compared to realistic theoretical calculations on an absolute intensity scale.” -Ray Osborn, Argonne senior scientist


By exploiting the properties of neutrons to probe electrons in a metal, a team of researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has gained new insight into the behavior of correlated electron systems, which are materials that have useful properties such as magnetism or superconductivity.


The research, to be published in Scienc...

World of Chemicals

Common ‘oxygen sponge’ catalyst soaks up hydrogen too

Having the right tool for the job enabled scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and their collaborators to discover that a workhorse catalyst of vehicle exhaust systems—an “oxygen sponge” that can soak up oxygen from air and store it for later use in oxidation reactions—may also be a “hydrogen sponge.”


The finding, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, may pave the way for the design of more effective catalysts for selective hydrogenation reactions. Selective hydrogenation is the key to producing valuable chemicals, for example, turning triple-bonded hydrocarbons called alkynes selectively into double-bonded alkenes — starting materials for the synthesis of plastics, fuels and...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons Inspect Salt-inclusion Materials to Improve Long-term Waste Storage

A team of researchers from the University of South Carolina is using neutrons to develop more durable and efficient materials called waste forms for safely storing hazardous substances.


The USC team recently visited the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study salt-inclusion materials (SIMs) that contain internal silicate channels with the capacity to safely immobilize nuclear waste. The researchers hope to obtain valuable insights into the materials’ properties using resources at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source such as the POWGEN instrument, SNS beamline 11A.                         


“We are studying SIMs with the intent to create new materials that more efficiently and safely sequester nuclear waste...


The atomic dynamics of rare everlasting electric fields

The discovery could help scientists develop new materials with similar properties for novel computing devices and micro-actuators.


By ricocheting neutrons off the atoms of yttrium manganite (YMnO3) heated to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers have discovered the atomic mechanisms that give the unusual material its rare electromagnetic properties.


The experiment was conducted as a collaboration between Duke University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and appeared online in Nature Communications on January 2, 2018.


Ferromagnetism is the scientific term for the phenomenon responsible for permanent magnets like iron. Such  exist because their molecular structure consists of tiny magnetic patches that...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons—Exotic particles for quantum computing

A novel approach for studying magnetic behavior in a material called alpha-ruthenium trichloride may have implications for quantum computing.


By suppressing the material’s magnetic order, scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee observed behavior consistent with exotic particles that are predicted to emerge when energy is added to a quantum spin liquid, or QSL. QSLs exist in certain materials where magnetic moments fluctuate in a liquid-like state rather than forming an ordered pattern.


The team disrupted the material’s magnetic order by substituting iridium ions for ruthenium, then used neutron scattering to characterize the resulting magnetic behavior. “Through this process, we saw...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Fossil energy—Neutrons run deep

To improve models for drilling, hydraulic fracturing and underground storage of carbon dioxide, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists used neutrons to understand how water flows through fractured rock.


Researchers used neutrons bouncing off the hydrogen in water molecules to see inside the rock’s microstructure without destroying it and quantify water uptake in real time.  


“One of the biggest challenges with shale is that it’s such a complex system,” ORNL’s Victoria DiStefano said. “Neutrons help us grasp the complex rock and fracture properties, which determine how quickly water uptake occurs in the rock.” Results of the study, which used rock samples from the oil- and gas-rich Eagle Ford Shale Formation in Texas, are...

Institut Laue-Langevin

ILL D20’s neutron beam yields important clues to the unconventional origins of superconductivity

Iron-based superconductors contain layers of iron and a pnictogen – such as arsenic or phosphorus – or a chalcogen, like oxygen or selenium. Previously dismissed as weak candidates for superconductivity, iron-based superconductors took the science community by surprise when it was discovered that the new iron arsenide family had very high transition temperatures.


Since then these high-temperature superconductors have become a hot topic of research, with neutrons and muons playing an essential role in investigating their unusual properties, in order to help quantum physics develop a theory behind high-temperature superconductive materials.


A team of researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ibaraki University, the...

Quanta Magazine

Neutrinos Suggest Solution to Mystery of Universe’s Existence

Updated results from a Japanese neutrino experiment continue to reveal an inconsistency in the way that matter and antimatter behave.


From above, you might mistake the hole in the ground for a gigantic elevator shaft. Instead, it leads to an experiment that might reveal why matter didn’t disappear in a puff of radiation shortly after the Big Bang.


I’m at the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex, or J-PARC — a remote and well-guarded government facility in Tokai, about an hour’s train ride north of Tokyo. The experiment here, called T2K (for Tokai-to-Kamioka) produces a beam of the subatomic particles called neutrinos. The beam travels through 295 kilometers of rock to the Super-Kamiokande (Super-K) detector, a gigantic...

Nature Communications

Magnetostriction-polarization coupling in multiferroic Mn2MnWO6

Double corundum-related polar magnets are promising materials for multiferroic and magnetoelectric applications in spintronics. However, their design and synthesis is a challenge, and magnetoelectric coupling has only been observed in Ni3TeO6 among the known double corundum compounds to date.


Here we address the high-pressure synthesis of a new polar and antiferromagnetic corundum derivative Mn2MnWO6, which adopts the Ni3TeO6-type structure with low temperature first-order field-induced metamagnetic phase transitions (TN = 58 K) and high spontaneous polarization (~ 63.3 μC·cm−2). The magnetostriction-polarization coupling in Mn2MnWO6 is evidenced by second harmonic generation effect, and corroborated by magnetic-field-dependent...

Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin

Solar energy: Defects in Kesterite semiconductors studied using neutrons

A research team at the HZB has precisely characterised for the first time the various types of defects in kesterite semiconductors. They achieved this with the help of neutron scattering at the BER II research reactor and at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the USA. The findings point to a means of guided optimisation for kesterite solar cells.


“The point defects we investigated experimentally really correspond quite well to the theoretical model of potential defects”, declared Dr. Galina Gurieva from the HZB Structure and Dynamics of Energy Materials group. “We can deduce concrete clues from this study as to which point defects in which concentration to expect in the given composition of kesterite thin films ”, says Gurieva. “This...


The AI Company That Helps Boeing Cook New Metals for Jets

At HRL Laboratories in Malibu, California, materials scientist Hunter Martin and his team load a grey powder as fine as confectioner’s sugar into a machine. They’ve curated the powder recipe—mostly aluminum, blended with some other elements—down to the atom. The machine, a 3-D metal printer, lays the powder down a single dusting at time, while a laser overhead welds the layers together. Over several hours, the machine prints a small block the size of brownie.


HRL’s parent companies, Boeing and General Motors, want to 3-D print intricate metal parts in mass for their sleek new generation of cars and planes. Airbus has already installed the first-ever 3-D printed metal part on a commercial airplane, a bracket that attaches to its...


Neutrons reveal fast methane translational diffusion at the interface of two clathrate structures

Umbertoluca Ranieri, PhD student at ILL and EPFL, and lead author of this study says: "These results are important in improving our understanding of many fundamental non-equilibrium phenomena involving methane clathrate hydrates; for example, the replacement kinetics during gas exchange in case of conversion between the clathrate structures I and II. This knowledge will also help us to tackle important energy and environmental issues such as methane recovery from marine hydrates sediments and carbon dioxide capture in the future."


Gas clathrate hydrates are ice-like solids, in which gas molecules or atoms are trapped inside crystalline frameworks formed by water molecules. They have attracted considerable attention over the last...

Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering

Neutron Beams Provide Insights Into Bio-Molecular Diffusion

Memorial University physicists are using neutron beams to shed light on the molecular behaviours that are fundamental to the inner workings of living cells.


In collaboration with physicists from the University of Wisconsin and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the U.S., Yethiraj and graduate student Swomitra Palit demonstrated that neutron beams can indeed be used to obtain independent size measurements of polymers in crowded solutions. To get these measurements, they travelled to ORNL to use a specialized technique called ‘small-angle neutron scattering’ (SANS), which is currently unavailable in Canada (although a SANS beamline is presently being built at the McMaster Nuclear Reactor and should be completed in 2019).



Elastic incoherent neutron scattering at ILL challenge the Lindemann criterion in proteins

Proteins are the nano-machines that Nature uses to perform most of the processes critical for the metabolism in cells. One of the key goals of life and physical sciences revolves around understanding the structural and dynamic properties of the native, transition, intermediate, and denatured states of proteins. The denaturation transition – defined as the transition of proteins from their specific native functional state to the unfolded inoperative state – is of particular interest, as it is defining the boundaries of stability and functionality of the phase diagram of proteins.


Internal subnanosecond timescale motions are also key for protein folding – without these proteins could not even fold in their native structure...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The right mix: Water and neutrons with Eugene Mamontov

Eugene Mamontov’s background in both basic and applied science has made him a valued partner for scientists who come to the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL in search of a better understanding of the water dynamics in their research—projects as diverse as studying plant cellulose or analyzing nanostructured membranes for desalination.


Mamontov is the lead instrument scientist for BASIS, the backscattering, crystal-analyzer spectrometer at the SNS that is particularly good at deciphering the dynamics of water in various systems.


“We predominately study hydrogen-bearing materials on BASIS, and many of them are water-related,” Mamontov said. “There’s a good reason we are so preoccupied with water. It is a molecule mostly made...

ISIS Neutron & Muon Source

Getting to grips with corrosion

Neutron reflectometry has been used to improve our fundamental understanding of corrosion and corrosion inhibitors.


In Neutron Reflectometry for Studying Corrosion and Corrosion Inhibition, published in Metals, Mary Wood and Stuart Clarke of the University of Cambridge discuss the great potential of neutron reflectometry (NR) to improve our fundamental understanding of corrosion and corrosion inhibitors. NR presents some challenges, in that very clean and flat samples are required, low neutron flux can dictate long measurement times and gaining access to international facilities is a competitive process. However, NR is a powerful and non-destructive tool that can characterise the thickness, roughness and composition of metal films...

Physics (APS)

Synopsis: Peering into a Molecular Magnet

Researchers characterize the spin couplings in the prototypical single-molecule magnet Mn12 using an advanced neutron scattering technique.


Single-molecule magnets could work as nanosized bits for future data storage technology. But, decades on from the discovery of the first molecular magnets, researchers still don’t have a good understanding of how the individual spins in the complex molecules interact. Now Paolo Santini of the University of Parma in Italy and his colleagues have characterized the spin couplings in the archetypal molecular magnet, the twelve-ion manganese cluster,  Mn12. The results—based on neutron scattering—could help in chemically designing new molecules with desired magnetic properties.


The Mn12...

Pan European Networks

Ultra-cold neutrons aid the search for dark matter

Since the start of its operation in 1985, the experimental installation ‘Physique Fondamentale 2’ (PF2) at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, has been the only user facility for ultra-cold neutron (UCN) research in the world, until recently.


Ultra-cold neutrons play an important role in addressing key questions of particle physics at the low-energy, high-precision frontier, complementary to the high-energy frontier probed at particle accelerators.


An unusual property of UCNs is that their kinetic energy is so small that they can become trapped in material and/or magnetic bottles, hence are observable for long times.


It is unsurprising then, that over the last 30 years since its inception, data...

Asian Scientist

Japan Scales Up Particle Physics Research

The Next-generation Neutrino Science Organization will oversee the Hyper-Kamiokande nucleon decay and neutrino experiment.


Scientists in Japan are pushing forward with the Hyper-Kamiokande project which aims to address the mysteries of the origin and evolution of the Universe’s matter. To realize these goals, it will combine a high intensity neutrino beam from the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC) with a new detector approximately ten times larger than the present Super-Kamiokande detector.


In collaboration with the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research (ICRR) and the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), the University of Tokyo announced the launch of its Next-generation...

Linnæus University

New research may provide better electronic components in the future

Supported by a grant from the Swedish Research Council, researchers at Linnaeus University will conduct experimental and theoretical studies of magnetic topological materials, a field awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2016. Possible results of the project include new types of energy-efficient magnetoelectronic components.


Conductors, semiconductors and insulators. That is the traditional classification of materials based on their ability to conduct, partially conduct or not conduct electrical current. Examples of these three types of material are copper, silicon and plastic.


Over the past ten years, however, new materials with unique properties have been discovered, the so-called topological isolators (TI) and topological...

University of Sussex

Hunt for dark matter is narrowed by new University of Sussex research

Scientists at the University of Sussex have disproved the existence of a specific type of axion - an important candidate ‘dark matter’ particle - across a wide range of its possible masses.


The data were collected by an international consortium, the Neutron Electric Dipole Moment (nEDM) Collaboration, whose experiment is based at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland.   Data were taken there and, earlier, at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble.


Professor Philip Harris, Head of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Sussex, and head of the nEDM group there, said:


“Experts largely agree that a major portion of the mass in the universe consists of ‘dark matter’. Its nature, however, remains...

Brock University

Brock physicist on the hunt for neutron beam source

A team of Canadian scientists, headed up by Brock University Associate Professor of Physics Thad Harroun, is travelling to Sweden next week in hopes of striking up a partnership to access the European Spallation Source (ESS), a neutron beam source facility being built there.


The meetings are meant to prepare for next year’s closure of Canada’s National Research Universal nuclear reactor in Chalk River, Ont.


The 60-year-old reactor — the world’s oldest operating research reactor — is slated to shut down in March 2018, after which Canadian and other scientists will no longer be able to use the highly specialized equipment in their experiments.


“We understand the decision, but we’re a casualty of that decision,” says...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Cyanobacterial Studies Examine Cellular Structure During Nitrogen Starvation

Using nondestructive neutron scattering techniques, scientists are examining how single-celled organisms called cyanobacteria produce oxygen and obtain energy through photosynthesis.


Collaborators from Washington University in St. Louis and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are conducting a series of experiments to study the behavior of phycobilisomes—large antenna protein complexes in cyanobacteria cells—using the Bio-SANS instrument, beamline CG‑3, at the lab’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR). Phycobilisomes harvest light to initiate photosynthesis, and a better understanding of this process could help researchers design more efficient solar panels and other artificial structures that...


China fires up next-generation neutron-science facility

Beam generator puts country in elite company for doing experiments in materials science and other fields.


China is revving up its next-generation neutron generator and will soon start experiments there. That will lift the country into a select group of nations with facilities that produce intense neutron beams to study the structure of materials.


The China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS) in Dongguan, a 2.2-billion-yuan (US$331-million) centre, will allow the country’s growing pool of top-notch physicists and material scientists, along with international collaborators, to compete in multiple physics and engineering fields. Its designers also hope that the facility will lead to commercial products and applications ranging...


Neutrons probe oxygen-generating enzyme for a greener approach to clean water

A new study sheds light on a unique enzyme that could provide an eco-friendly treatment for chlorite-contaminated water supplies and improve water quality worldwide.


An international team of researchers led by Christian Obinger from the University of Vienna used neutron analysis at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, x-ray crystallography and other techniques to study the chlorite dismutase enzyme. This naturally occurring protein can break down chlorite, an industrial pollutant found in groundwater, drinking water and soils, into harmless byproducts, but its catalytic process is not well understood. Understanding how the bacterial enzyme converts chlorite into chloride and oxygen could open possibilities for future applications in...

International Business Times

This super-sensitive, flexible material generates electric energy on being stretched or compressed

The thin and flexible material works on the piezoelectric effect – the idea of converting mechanical stress into electric charges.


A group of researchers has developed a unique rubber-like organic material that produces electricity on being stretched or compressed.


The thin and flexible material, which is quite hard to produce at present, works on the piezoelectric effect – the ability of certain materials to convert mechanical stress into electric charges, Phys.orgreports.


The phenomenon has been seen widely in analogue record players that guide a needle through the grooves of a record to generate mechanical vibrations. These vibrations are then converted into electric impulses, which are further amplified to...

Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering

Neutrons Aid The Development Of Cancer-Killing Nanoparticles

A University of Manitoba physicist is part of an international research team developing a cancer treatment method that uses magnetic nanoparticles to kill tumours with heat.


The idea of using heat to destroy cancerous tumours has been around for a long time. However, according to Johan van Lierop, a professor of physics at the University of Manitoba, “the challenge is to overheat the tumour without overheating the surrounding healthy tissue as well.” So far, this challenge has limited the use of heat treatment to only a handful of cancer applications, such as treating certain kinds of brain tumours.


Medical researchers around the world are feverishly searching for ways to overcome this challenge, as today’s cancer treatments...

Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering

Neutron Experiments Add Confidence To Nuclear Reactor Safety

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories is a leader in sciences that are foundational to reactor safety—including the ability to predict the lifetimes of critical components used in nuclear power stations around the world, especially those in CANDU reactors.


One of the distinct advantages of CANDU reactors is the fact that they don’t require enriched fuel to operate. That’s because the CANDU design uses heavy water, which enables the use of natural (i.e., unenriched) uranium as fuel.


In the latter half of the 20th century, while other nuclear vendor nations were focusing on light water reactors (which do depend on enriched fuel), Canada developed its heavy water technology. Today, there are several CANDUs operating overseas and a...


Machine learning and deep learning programs provide a helping hand to scientists analyzing images

Physicists on the MINERvA neutrino experiments at the Department of Energy's Fermilab faced a conundrum. Their particle detector was swamping them with images. The detector lights up every time a neutrino, a tiny elementary particle, breaks into other particles. The machine then takes a digital photo of all of the new particles' movements. As the relevant interactions occur very rarely, having a huge amount of data should have been a good thing. But there were simply too many pictures for the scientists to be able to analyze them as thoroughly as they would have liked to.


"Most of the scientific work that's being done today produces a tremendous amount of data where basically, you can't get human eyes on all of it," said Catherine...

Journal of Nuclear Science & Technology

Measurements of neutronic characteristics of rectangular and cylindrical coupled hydrogen moderators

Extensive simulation calculations were performed in the design studies of the coupled hydrogen moderator for the pulsed spallation neutron source of the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Facility (J-PARC). It was indicated that a para-hydrogen moderator had an intensity-enhanced region at the fringe part, and that pulse shapes emitted from a cylindrical para-hydrogen moderator gave higher pulse-peak intensities with narrower pulse widths than those from a rectangular one without penalizing the time-integrated intensities. To validate the peculiar distribution and advantages in pulse shapes experimentally, some measurements were performed at the neutron source of the Hokkaido University electron linear accelerator facility. It was observed...

Ames Laboratory

Perfectly frustrated metal provides possible path to superconductivity, other new quantum states

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has discovered and described the existence of a unique disordered electron spin state in a metal that may provide a unique pathway to finding and studying frustrated magnets.


Condensed matter physicists use the term “frustrated” to describe a kind of magnet in which the spins fail to align into stable magnetic order. In perfectly frustrated magnets called spin liquids, the disordered magnetism of these materials persists even at very low temperatures, and their unique properties are of interest in the development of quantum computing and high-temperature superconductivity.


The materials investigated to search for this perfectly frustrated magnetic state are typically insulators...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutron spectroscopy reveals common ‘oxygen sponge’ catalyst soaks up hydrogen too

Having the right tool for the job enabled scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and their collaborators to discover that a workhorse catalyst of vehicle exhaust systems—an “oxygen sponge” that can soak up oxygen from air and store it for later use in oxidation reactions—may also be a “hydrogen sponge.”


The finding, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, may pave the way for the design of more effective catalysts for selective hydrogenation reactions. Selective hydrogenation is the key to producing valuable chemicals, for example, turning triple-bonded hydrocarbons called alkynes selectively into double-bonded alkenes—starting materials for the synthesis of plastics, fuels and...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Resisting the resistance: Neutrons search for clues to combat bacterial threats

The discovery of penicillin almost 90 years ago ushered in the age of modern antibiotics, but the growth of antibiotic resistance means bacterial infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis are becoming more difficult to treat.


Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are conducting a series of experiments at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) to make sense of this phenomenon. Using the MaNDi instrument, SNS beamline 11B, they hope to better understand how bacteria containing enzymes called beta-lactamases resist the beta-lactam class of antibiotics. Any antibiotic containing a beta-lactam ring made up of organic compounds falls under this category.  


“We are looking for...

National Geographic

Mysterious Void Discovered in Egypt's Great Pyramid

Discovered using cosmic-ray muon detectors, the cavity is the first major inner structure discovered in the pyramid since the 1800s.


Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza—one of the wonders of the ancient world, and a dazzling feat of architectural genius—contains a hidden void at least a hundred feet long, scientists announced on Thursday.


The void is the first large inner structure discovered within the 4,500-year-old pyramid since the 1800s—a find made possible by recent advances in high-energy particle physics. The results were published in the journal Nature.


“This is definitely the discovery of the century,” says archaeologist and Egyptologist Yukinori Kawae, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. “There have been many...

Institut Laue-Langevin

Not easy to (un)twist! MnSi under a Magnetic Field

ILL, ISIS, Ames Lab, and TU-Delft collaborate on chiral magnetism study


Chiral magnetism attracts a great amount of attention since the observation of chiral skyrmion lattices in the reference system MnSi. These chiral skyrmions have dimensions significantly larger than the lattice constant, are topologically protected, and may have applications in spintronics and novel devices for information storage. In systems like MnSi the non-trivial behavior emerges from a relativistic effect, the Dzyaloshinsky-Moriya (DM) interaction, that twists the magnetic moments with respect to each other.


This interaction becomes noticeable in the absence of a center of symmetry of the crystallographic structure and it is usually weak...

World Economic Forum

It's up to the world of science to provide everyone with clean, affordable water

Thom Mason | Senior Vice President for Laboratory Operation, Battelle Memorial Institute, USA


One of the most fundamental measures of quality of life is access to clean water. Today two thirds of humanity face water stress at some point during the year and one in 10 do not have clean water. As populations grow so will the demands for drinking water and agriculture. At the same time climate change will impact available resources.


Neutron sources such as the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the European Spallation Source being built right next to MAX-IV use neutrons to explore the fundamental properties of advanced materials. Supercomputers couple the information on structure and dynamics obtained...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons reveal suppression of magnetic order in pursuit of a quantum spin liquid

Paige Kelley, a postdoctoral researcher with a joint appointment at the University of Tennessee and the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), is using neutrons to study specific crystal properties that could lead to the realization of a quantum spin liquid, a novel state of matter that may form the basis of future quantum computing technologies.


“In a quantum spin liquid, spins continually fluctuate due to quantum effects and never enter a static ordered arrangement, in contrast to conventional magnets,” Kelley said. “These states can host exotic quasiparticles that can be detected by inelastic neutron scattering.”


Recently, she and her team saw evidence of those quasiparticles in alpha...

Pan European Networks

A novel picture of thermal conductivity

Dr Marc de Boissieu, senior scientist at CNRS, tells PEN about new research on thermal conductivity in complex materials


The engineering of thermal conductivity in semiconducting materials is a central issue in the development of modern nano- and microtechnologies, and low thermal conductivity is important in materials used in technology products as it provides thermal insulation and thus the reduction of heat transfer, ensuring the products do not overheat.


In new neutron experiments conducted at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), researchers have provided a direct quantitative measurement of phonon lifetimes in a clathrate, offering a novel picture of thermal...


Scientists question assumptions about planet formation

A paper published this week in Astrophysical Journal, led by Open University academics, has examined the exact structure and behaviour of the icy particles that collide and grow at the onset of planet-formation, in a series of revealing experiments at the UK's world-leading neutron source, ISIS.


Senior Lecturer in Astronomy at the School of Physical Sciences, Dr. Helen Fraser, says, "We are already aware of thousands of planets orbiting stars in our own galaxy, as remnants of star-formation, and yet there still isn't a model anywhere in science that can explain exactly how planets form. Our basic understanding is that small particles stick together, building bigger particles, which then also stick, and so forth, until eventually, we...

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 16, 2017 – Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have performed neutron structural analysis of a vitamin B6-dependent protein, potentially opening avenues for new antibiotics and drugs to battle diseases such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria and diabetes.


Specifically, the team used neutron crystallography to study the location of hydrogen atoms in aspartate aminotransferase, or AAT, an enzyme vital to the metabolism of certain amino acids.


“We visualized the first neutron structure of a vitamin B6 enzyme that belongs to a large protein family with hundreds of members that exist in nature,” said ORNL’s Andrey Kovalevsky, a senior co-author of the study, which was...

The Washington Post

Scientists detect gravitational waves from a new kind of nova, sparking a new era in astronomy

Some 130 million years ago, in a galaxy far away, the smoldering cores of two collapsed stars smashed into each other. The resulting explosion sent a burst of gamma rays streaming through space and rippled the very fabric of the universe.


On Aug. 17, those signals reached Earth — and sparked an astronomy revolution.


The distant collision created a “kilonova,” an astronomical marvel that scientists have never seen before. It was the first cosmic event in history to be witnessed via both traditional telescopes, which can observe electromagnetic radiation like gamma rays, and gravitational wave detectors, which sense the wrinkles in space-time produced by distant cataclysms. The detection, which involved thousands of...

Institute of Physics: Physics World

Physics World Focus on Neutron Science

  • Jonathan Taylor, head of the ESS Data Management & Software Centre, reviews the data-management challenges facing neutron sources and other large-scale research facilities as they strive to maximize the scientific and economic impact of their work
  • Neutron scattering experiments can generate up to 50 terabytes of data. Jean-François Perrin explains how scientists at the Institut Laue-Langevin, where he is head of computing services, manage these data appropriately.
  • Mats Lindroos, head of the accelerator division at the European Spallation Source (ESS), reflects on the progress of the flagship new neutron facility being built outside Lund, Sweden.
  • Casper Rutjes and Ute Ebert trace how our understanding of thunderstorm physics has...

STFC / ISIS / Univ. of Leeds

New research could explain how river-like channels formed on Mars

A new research paper published today could help to explain how the mysterious channels, which look like dried-up riverbeds, could have formed on the surface of Mars.


ISIS senior scientist Dr Alan Soper was part of the research team, and he said: “This research is particularly fascinating because it could help us to answer some of the great mysteries about life on other planets... [It] represents a very exciting step forward in the search for extra-terrestrial liquid water—and with it, life.”


Ref.: Highly compressed water structure observed in a perchlorate aqueous solution (Nature Communications)


Mimetic Martian water is under pressure

Researchers investigating whether liquid water could exist on Mars have provided new insight into the limits of life on the red planet.


A team led by Dr Lorna Dougan from the University of Leeds has analysed the structure of water in a magnesium perchlorate solution —what they refer to as "mimetic Martin water"—to better understand how the liquid could exist on the Martian surface.


Martian soil samples gathered by the Phoenix Lander in 2009 found calcium and powerful oxidants, including magnesium perchlorate. This fuelled speculation that perchlorate brine flows might be the cause of channelling and weathering observed on the planet's surface.


Ref.: Highly compressed water structure observed in a perchlorate aqueous solution ...


Superconductivity found in thin films of TiO2

Many of us are familiar with titanium dioxide (TiO2), a whitener commonly used in sunscreens and paints such as the white lines seen on tennis courts. Less well known are other higher titanium oxides—those with a higher number of titanium and oxygen atoms than TiO—that are now the subject of intensifying research due to their potential use in next-generation electronic devices.


Now, researchers at Tokyo Tech have reported superconductivity in two kinds of higher titanium oxides prepared in the form of ultrathin films. With a thickness of around 120 nanometers, these materials reveal properties that are only just beginning to be explored.


"We succeeded in growing thin films of Ti4O7 and γ-Ti3O5 for the first time," says Kohei...

ISIS Neutron Source

The past, present and future of inelastic neutron scattering

Emma Cooper

The use of electron-volt neutron spectroscopy in materials research is a growing area of neutron science, capitalizing upon the unique insights provided by epithermal neutrons on the behaviour and properties of an increasing number of complex materials.

​Professor Carla Andreani, recipient of the 2016 Giuseppe Occhialini Medal and Prize for her “outstanding contributions to novel experimental techniques and methods in neutron spectroscopy and her tireless commitment to fostering the British–Italian collaboration in neutron science" has published two reviews in Advances in Physics, which capture the rapid progress in the field.

CERN Courier

Neutrinos on nuclei

Detailed modelling of the way neutrinos interact with nuclei is crucial if DUNE and other long-baseline neutrino experiments are to extract essential neutrino properties.

A major focus of experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is to search for new phenomena that cannot be explained by the Standard Model of particle physics. In addition to sophisticated analysis routines, this requires detailed measurements of particle tracks and energy deposits produced in large detectors by the LHC’s proton–proton collisions and, in particular, precise knowledge of the collision energy. The LHC’s counter-rotating proton beams each carry an energy of 6.5 TeV and this quantity is known to a precision of about 0.1 per cent – a feat that requires...

CERN Courier

Obituary: Bjørn Jacobsen 1961-2017

Norwegian delegate to the CERN Council and previous chair of the CERN Finance Committee, Bjørn Jacobsen, passed away on 13 June after a few months of illness.


Bjørn co-ordinated the support of all physics programmes of the Research Council of Norway. More recently he served as a special adviser of the Norwegian contribution to large international infrastructure programmes such as the European Spallation Source, the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association and the Nordic Optical Telescope.


Jacobsen studied physics at the University of Oslo, where he obtained his PhD in space physics in 1991. He spent the next 12 years...


Canada’s neutron scientists lament closure of world’s oldest nuclear reactor

The world’s oldest operating nuclear reactor is in the twilight of its life, but the scientists who rely on it for their research are not going gentle into that good night. Canadian scientists are upset about the imminent closure of the Chalk River research reactor and are lobbying the government for a CA$200 million ($162 million) commitment so they can continue to perform materials research using the neutron beams that research reactors provide.

Science X Phys.org

Neutrons provide a novel picture of thermal conductivity in complex materials

A multi-partner study published today in Nature Communications has addressed phonon lifetime measurement challenges using inelastic neutron scattering (INS) and neutron resonant spin-echo (NRSE) experiments conducted at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, and Laboratoire Léon Brillouin (LLB) Saclay, France. Whereas the "glass-like" thermal conductivity of the clathrate Ba7.81Ge40.67Au5.33 has frequently been associated with a short phonon lifetime, this study measured for the first time to date a very long phonon lifetime using a large single crystal sample of high quality. The study also reveals a dramatic reduction of the number of phonons carrying heat, as a result of structural complexity, allowing a simple and general...

Science X Phys.org

First neutron beam produced: A great milestone for China Spallation Neutron Source

Researchers produced a neutron beam at the China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS) for the first time on August 28. The achievement is a milestone for the CSNS project as it marks the completion of main construction and the start of the test operation phase. The national CSNS facility, located in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, should be fully completed and open to domestic and international users by 2018, as scheduled.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

ORNL researchers turn to ‘deep learning’ to solve science’s biggest data problem

A team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been awarded nearly $2 million over three years from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore the potential of machine learning in revolutionizing scientific data analysis.

The Advances in Machine Learning to Improve Scientific Discovery at Exascale and Beyond (ASCEND) project aims to use deep learning to assist researchers in making sense of massive datasets produced at the world’s most sophisticated scientific facilities.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

World’s smallest neutrino detector finds big physics fingerprint

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—After more than a year of operation at the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the COHERENT experiment, using the world’s smallest neutrino detector, has found a big fingerprint of the elusive, electrically neutral particles that interact only weakly with matter.

The research, performed at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and published in the journal Science, provides compelling evidence for a neutrino interaction process predicted by theorists 43 years ago, but never seen.

Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering

Neutrons Help To Remove Barriers Standing In The Way Of Safer, Better Batteries For Electric Vehicles

After using neutron beams to better understand materials required for safer energy storage, University of Calgary chemists and their international collaborators were able to demonstrate a prototype battery that showed major improvements to performance.

Electric vehicles promise to revolutionize transportation—but safer, better-performing batteries must first be developed before this potential can be turned into a reality. One of the primary challenges is to find a less hazardous electrolyte material for the batteries used in ‘green’ cars. Indeed, the lithium-ion batteries used in today’s electric and plug‑in hybrid vehicles (as well as in portable electronic devices) typically contain flammable liquids as their electrolyte; as such...

Niels Bohr Institute

Iron secrets behind superconductors unlocked

SUPERCONDUCTORS: Due to magnetism iron should - theoretically - be a poor superconductor. Nevertheless certain ironbased materials possess fine superconducting properties. Why? Because the five unbound electrons found in iron - as a result of individual modes of operation, it turns out - facilitate superconductivity. This new, long sought-for explanation - appearing in this weeks issue of Science - is the result of international co-operation between experts from the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI) i Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues from a number of other scientific institutions in Europa and USA.

Nature Scientific Reports

Capturing 3D Water Flow in Rooted Soil by Ultra-fast Neutron Tomography

Non-invasive imaging techniques are the key for better understanding the root-soil interaction which is of great relevance for both plant and soil scientists. Neutrons are a unique probe for non-destructive investigation of root-soil systems.

We demonstrated the ability of ultra-fast tomography to quantitatively image quick changes of water content in the rhizosphere and outlined the value of such imaging data for 3D water uptake modelling. The presented method paves the way for time-resolved studies of various 3D flow and transport phenomena in porous systems.

Pan European Networks

Focus: Neutrons versus disease

The Institut Laue-Langevin’s Anne Martel and Giovanna Fragneto explain how neutrons are supporting the fight against against chronic conditions like diabetes and dementia.

At the ILL, we recently conducted a study in collaboration with researchers from the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and Institut de Biologie Structurale in Grenoble, with the aim of enhancing our knowledge of the cytotoxic mechanisms of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), a hormone co-secreted with insulin by ß-cells. We investigated the interaction between IAPP and model membranes – both membrane permeation and the structural effects of IAPP – using a range of techniques including neutron scattering and reflectometry methods. This study...

University of Copenhagen

Researchers will find the structure of the smallest building blocks in nano-chemistry

SUBSTANCES IN SOLUTION AND SOLID MATERIALS: Two young researchers from University of Copenhagen have received funding - DKK 10 million each - to build up research groups to study the relationship between the structure of materials at the nano-scale and their properties. New knowledge in this can provide a foundation for everything from better batteries to purification of nuclear waste.

Partnerships & Collaborations

BrightnESS² project kick-off Rome

BrightnESS² Kicks Off to Bring Together a Sustainable European Neutron Ecosystem

Research organisations and facilities from 11 different countries have jointly set off on a three year journey...

lens signing

Founding Members Sign Charter Establishing Neutron Source Consortium LENS

Representatives of eight European research infrastructures, including the...


ESS, MAX IV & SciLifeLab join forces to create new life science hub

ess danish mou

Danish Government and Academia Come Together to Advance ESS Strategic Partnerships

Six Danish universities and the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education...

ESS and MAX IV: Collaboration and Coordination for Better Science

The European Spallation Source and MAX IV Laboratory signed a formal Memorandum...