Scientific disciplines

What can be studied with neutrons?

Small angle scattering diffractometer (KWS-2)/ FRM II/ TUM Small angle scattering diffractometer (KWS-2)/ FRM II/ TUM Picture: FRM II/ TUM

Small angle scattering instrument, FRM II, TUM, Germany

Information about an extremely broad range of materials, which could not be obtained by other means, can be obtained using neutrons.

The wavelength of neutrons is similar to the distances between atoms and molecules in liquids and solids – condensed matter. This means that when neutrons interact with matter, be it a regular array of atoms or molecules in a crystal lattice, the neutron waves are reflected, or scattered, off the atomic nuclei.

The diffraction pattern resulting from neutron scattering can be recorded as a series of peaks of the scattered neutron intensity, which provides information about the position of the atoms and the distance between them.

Different methods provide different ways of achieving scattering patterns, and can be applied to different kinds of materials.

Neutrons play an important role in the advancement of research into many different areas of science, such as biology, materials science, chemistry, particle physics as well as engineering and medicine.

In these pages you will find how neutrons are used in different fields of research.

See our Grand Challenges pages to read about neutrons┬┤contribution to today┬┤s great challenges.

You can find out more about neutron scattering methods here.

You can find videos about neutron science and methods here.