Neutron Science


Aerodynamic levitator for samples

Aerodynamic levitator allows samples to 'float on air'

Both liquids and glasses are disordered materials in which the atoms don't establish long-range patterns. Using neutron scattering to probe that disordered system at the atomic level researchers can learn how to make new and potentially better glasses for applications such as lasers and fiber optics, as well as gain a better understanding of geological materials.

To study liquids and glasses, a collaborating team from Materials Development Inc. in Arlington Heights, Illinois; Stony Brook University in New York; Argonne National Laboratory (ANL); and the Neutron Sciences Directorate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a container-less sample environment, in which a drop of pure liquid literally "floats" on a jet of flowing gas.

This aerodynamic levitator sample environment has been installed on the Nanoscale-Ordered Materials Diffractometer (NOMAD) at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL. There, the research team is using it to study small drops of liquids such as calcium, magnesium, and aluminum silicates.

"We study liquids as they transform to glass," says Richard Weber, the principal investigator and the owner of Materials Development Inc. "That is important because many materials are processed as liquids at some stage in their life, such as silicon wafers that start as sand and then are converted into silicon by melting and processing. "We look at the liquid state, measure its structure, and see how it actually transforms into glass." 

PhysOrg 1/8




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