The Biology and Soft Matter Division (BSMD) operates an external user program for biological and soft matter research using neutron techniques at SNS and HFIR. Division personnel enable the research initiated by external users by acting as instrument responsible scientists and local contacts on a range of different beam lines. BSMD works closely with the Center for Structural Molecular Biology.
Diffraction, small-angle scattering, and reflectometry are ideal methods for studying structure and organization from the atomic to the micron length scales, and neutron spectroscopic methods characterize self and collective motions from picosecond to microsecond timescales. These techniques are applicable to the length and time scales intrinsic to soft matter and biological systems but, unlike most other methods, are uniquely sensitive to hydrogen, an atom abundantly present in biological and soft condensed materials.
In addition to building a world-leading user program, a goal of the division is to drive the scientific and technological development of its beam lines by organizing into scientifically focused groups that engage the user community and other directorates at ORNL in collaborative science that addresses the mission needs of its sponsors.