crystal diffraction pattern

Science & Instruments

The goal of scientific excellence drives the European Spallation Source project. At the heart of the ESS scientific user program is the ESS instrument suite, together with sample environment equipment, user labs and data analysis support.

  • Instrument Suite
  • Instruments in Construction
  • Installation
  • Commissioning
  • User Program

Instruments for ESS and their support infrastructure are under development with a high level of community involvement through in-kind and collaboration, ensuring a long-term connection to the neutron science community and engagement with the users of tomorrow.

On these pages, the work to build the instrument suite and the supporting infrastructure is demonstrated, along with the technological research and development projects enabling these next-generation neutron instruments to maximise the scientific potential of the ESS facility. The staggering range of science areas that will benefit from ESS is highlighted, with examples of the current science being done with neutrons.

Science Using Neutrons

The development of the European Spallation Source is driven by the research needs of the European scientific community.

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Fifteen instruments for science are included in the ESS construction project. Each instrument is unique, optimised for obtaining particular kinds of scientific data.

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Data Management & Software Centre

The Data Management and Software Centre (DMSC) is responsible for the acquisition and analysis of the scientific data from the ESS instruments. It is based in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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Instrument Technologies

The Instrument Technologies Division provides the technological tools required for the design, construction and operation of the neutron instruments at ESS.

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Science Support Systems

The Scientific Activities Division will provide ESS Science Support Systems that include sample environment equipment, scientific laboratories and a future user office.

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The Science Directorate is responsible for delivering the instruments and the scientific infrastructure needed for ESS to become a vibrant scientific hub in the years to come.

To that end, the directorate is organised into five divisions: Scientific Activities, Neutron Instruments, Instrument Technologies, Data Management and Software Centre and NSS Project Office.

Staff working at directorate level:

Andreas Schreyer

Director for Science


Tina Nordqvist

Personal Assistant


Shane Kennedy

Interim Deputy Science Director and Project Leader


Sindra Petersson Årsköld

Senior Advisor on policy, communication and strategy


Beate Linnenberg

Team Assistant


Zsuzsa Helyes

Team Assistant


The NSS Project Office is responsible for coordinating, integrating and facilitating the work of the In-kind partners involved in the delivery of the neutron scattering instruments, together with NSS internal technical and scientific resources.

Providing engineering support, project management and oversight, processes and procedures, the Scientific Projects Division will host the instrument construction projects for the ESS.  

Bringing together the resources and tools needed to design, engineer, fabricate, construct and install the instruments, we shall work with the instrument scientists, in-kind partners, and technology groups to bring to the instruments from concepts to working instruments.

Shane Kennedy

Interim Deputy Science Director and Project Leader


Iain Sutton

Neutron Scattering Systems Senior Engineer


Gábor László

Neutron Instruments Lead Engineer


Zvonko Lazic

Neutron Scattering Systems Integration Engineer


Peter Sångberg

Systems Engineer


NSS In-Kind Office

The NSS In-Kind Office works closely with the NSS Project Leader and the NSS work package coordinators. The main task of this office is to help maximise the In-Kind potential for the project, ensuring at the same time that the ESS In-Kind procedures are followed and implemented.

Michela Dell’Anno Boulton

NSS In-kind Officer



Neutrons in the News

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 conductivity in...

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 have...

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 published i...

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 researchers working at...

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 evolved in...

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 (Nature...

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 Yoshimatsu,...

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

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

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, faulty...

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.

European Spallation Source

Research with Neutrons Opens New Paths to Predict Behaviour of Local Anesthetics

Determining the characteristics or effect of drugs in pure form is considered a routine calculation. What is less known is the behaviour of drugs formulated into delivery systems, which can potentially alter their chemical potency or toxicity.

With the help of two neutron instruments at the Institute Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, researchers recently took a deeper look into the dynamics and mobility of drugs when combined with soluble compounds. It is an important step to further understanding the mechanisms of drug efficacy, an underlying challenge for developing safe and reliable pharmaceuticals.

Neutrons Opening New Fields of Health Science Research

“Although at its infancy as a tool for understanding advanced drug design,...

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.