Neutron Science


Supporting Organizations

These organizations support the researchers and maintain the instruments used across all of our neutron science research:

Biology and Soft Matter Division

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.

Chemical and Engineering Materials Division

The Chemical and Engineering Materials Division (CEMD) supports neutron-based research at SNS and HFIR in understanding the structure and dynamics of chemical systems and novel engineering materials. The user community takes advantage of division-supported 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 quasielastic scattering, and neutron imaging instruments address a range of problems in chemistry and in engineering materials research. Current areas of research supported by the division 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, and the effects of processing conditions on material performance.

Instrument and Source Design Division

The Instrument and Source Design Division supports the engineering and development of scientific instruments at the High Flux Isotope Reactor and the Spallation Neutron Source. ISDD continuously develops facilities and capabilities associated with neutron science through research and development.

Neutron Data Analysis and Visualization Division

The Neutron Data Analysis and Visualization (NDAV) Division develops software and hardware for the reduction and analysis of data taken on SNS and HFIR neutron scattering instruments. We work closely with the SNS and HFIR Data Acquisition and Controls teams, who operate the computer systems on the neutron scattering instruments, and the Technology Integration group from the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF).

Quantum Condensed Matter Division

The Quantum Condensed Matter Division (QCMD) enables and conducts a broad program of research on condensed matter physics using neutron techniques. Division personnel enable the research initiated by external users by acting as instrument-responsible scientists and local contacts on a range of neutron instruments used for diffraction and inelastic neutron scattering at both SNS and HFIR. The science conducted by our staff members emphasizes materials with emergent properties that are manifestly quantum in origin. Some examples of current interests include superconductivity, multiferroicity, low-dimensional and frustrated magnetism, orbital fluctuations, quantum criticality, and topological insulators. Our scientists also develop and apply new neutron instruments and methods for the benefit of our users and the global scientific community.

Research Accelerator Division

The Research Accelerator Division is responsible for operation of the SNS accelerator complex, which consists of a negative hydrogen-ion injector, a 1 GeV linear accelerator, a proton accumulator ring, and a liquid mercury target system. The SNS accelerator is the only one of its kind in the world and provides the driving power to the SNS target system, where neutrons are produced. The accelerator systems are designed to provide 1.4 megawatts of proton beam power to the target but also have the flexibility to provide additional scientific output in the future by increasing the beam power beyond 2 megawatts. RAD also encompasses facility operations for the SNS site such as building maintenance and computing integration.

Research Reactors Division

The Research Reactors Division is responsible for operation of the High Flux Isotope Reactor. Operating at 85 MW, HFIR is the highest flux reactor-based source of neutrons for research in the United States, and it provides one of the highest steady-state neutron fluxes of any research reactor in the world. The thermal and cold neutrons produced by HFIR are used to study physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, and biology. The intense neutron flux, constant power density, and constant-length fuel cycles are used by almost 500 researchers each year for neutron scattering research into the fundamental properties of condensed matter. The neutron scattering research facilities at HFIR contain a world-class collection of 15 instruments, planned or in operation, that are used for fundamental and applied research on the structure and dynamics of matter. The reactor is also used for medical, industrial, and research isotope production; research on severe neutron damage to materials; and neutron activation to examine trace elements in the environment. Additionally, the building houses a gamma irradiation facility that uses spent fuel assemblies and is capable of accommodating high-gamma-dose experiments.


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