Neutron Scattering

The goal of modern materials science is to understand the factors that determine the properties of matter on the atomic scale, and then to use this knowledge to optimise those properties or to develop new materials and functionality. This process regularly involves the discovery of fascinating new physics, which itself may lead to previously unthought-of capabilities. Almost all of the major changes in our society, from the dramatic growth of computing and the internet to the steady increase in average life span, have their origin in our understanding and exploitation of the physics and chemistry of materials. To investigate atomic-scale structure and dynamics, scientists use a variety of tools and techniques, often based on the scattering of beams of particles. An “ideal” probe might be one that has a wavelength similar to the spacing between atoms, in order to study structure with atomic resolution, and an energy similar to that of atoms in materials in order to study their dynamics. It would have no charge, to avoid strong scattering by charges on the electrons or the nucleus and allow deep penetration into materials. It would be scattered to a similar extent by both light and heavy atoms and have a suitable magnetic moment so that we can also easily study magnetism. The scattering cross-section would be precisely measurable on an absolute scale, to facilitate comparison with theory and computer modelling.

 

  • Scattering of fast neutrons
  • Neutron-matter interaction

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