Neutron scattering is a technique that allows scientists to delve into the structure and behavior of matter at the atomic and molecular levels. It provides scientists with the means to investigate the behavior of atoms, study isotopes, analyze light elements, and explore magnetic phenomena. By creating a beam of neutrons, which penetrates a sample, scientist are able to collect data based on how the neutrons scatter when they hit a detector.
Incorporating neutron scattering into your science curriculum provides you with the opportunity to introduce students to fundamental concepts within science.
Currently access to neutron scattering facilities is limited, and a costly affair. Even with the addition of ESS (Eutropean Spallation Source), there might only be 4 – 5 facilities available. However, in the world of this learning scenario, we are able to imagine that neutron scattering will be widely available in the future.

Neutrons, as essential particles in scientific research, possess intriguing characteristics. They have a mass similar to protons and carry no electric charge, making them electrically neutral. Neutrons interact with atomic nuclei through the strong nuclear force and with magnetic moments through the electromagnetic force. Their magnetic properties and wave-particle duality make them valuable tools for investigating matter in detail.

Here are some examples of industries that benefit from neutron scattering:

  • Automobile
  • Aerospace
  • Steel
  • Defence
  • Industrial materials
  • Energy storage
  • Biomedicine
  • And, as in the case of this learning scenario, space faring.

While the starting point of this course is neutron scattering, it also creates an arena for your students to practise critical thinking, explore atomic structures, and develop a deeper understanding of the fundamental principles of physics. Through hands-on experiments and theoretical discussions, students gain practical experience in data collection, analysis, and interpretation. By connecting theoretical concepts with practical applications, you can foster a deeper appreciation for the scientific method and the discoveries made possible through neutron scattering.

For more than 40 years, Europe has been leading in the field of neutron scattering. Currently (2023), there are two mature sites – Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) in France, and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source in Britain. Yet another facility, the European Spallation Source facility in Sweden, is under construction.

Scroll to Top