Neutron Science

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Chemical and Engineering Materials


Neutron-based research at SNS and HFIR in Chemical and Engineering Materials strives to understand the structure and dynamics of chemical systems and novel engineering materials. The user community takes advantage of capabilities of neutron scattering for measurements over wide ranges of experimental and operating conditions, including studies of chemical and physical changes in situ. User experiments with diffraction, small-angle scattering, inelastic and quasi-elastic scattering, and neutron imaging instruments address a range of problems in chemistry and in engineering materials research.

Current areas of research supported within Chemical and Engineering Materials include:

  • The structure and dynamics of electrical energy storage materials and systems
  • The performance of engineering materials under varying environments
  • Fundamentals of structure under extreme pressure and/or temperature conditions
  • The effects of processing conditions on material performance

Recent Research Highlights

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Neutron Imaging Reveals Lithium Distribution in Lithium-Air Electrodes
— Using neutron-computed tomography, researchers at the CG-1D neutron imaging instrument at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) have successfully mapped the three-dimensional spatial distribution of lithium products in electrochemically discharged lithium-air cathodes.

Neutron scattering characterizes dynamics in polymer family
— Understanding the interplay between structure and dynamics is the key to obtaining tailor-made materials. In the last few years, a large effort has been devoted to characterizing and relating the structure and dynamic properties in families of polymers with alkyl side groups.

SNS Diffractometer puts the squeeze on methane hydrate cages, unraveling its high-pressure structure
— Imagine a robot sent out on the prowl on this energy hungry planet looking for methane, the principal component of what we call “natural gas” and probably the most abundant organic compound on earth.

Neutrons measure phase behavior in pores at angstrom size
— Researchers have measured the phase behavior of green house gases in pores at the angstrom level, using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor.

'Low tech' light in neutron beam illuminates photosynthesis in bacteria
— Researchers at the Bio-SANS instrument at the High Flux Isotope Reactor are getting a leg up in their research from an ingenious "low tech" lighting tool that can be fixed to their samples and then pushed directly into the neutron beam, to illuminate the response of layers of cyanobacteria to changes in light.

 
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