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IN22 - Liquid indium

A series of short movies showing how neutron experiments are prepared or performed. Some of these movies have an historical interest since they captured important moments in the life of the ILL.

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Films and animations

IN22

Liquid indium

Aerodynamic levitation and laser heating


IN22 is a thermal neutron three-axis spectrometer equipped for full polarization analysis. IN22 is a CRG instrument operated at the ILL by the CEA-Grenoble DRFMC/SPSMS.

The movie presented here was shot in December 2007 during experiment 6-01-294. The aim of the experiment was to measure the neutron scattering from liquid indium.

  • Why aerodynamic (gas flow) levitation of the sample ?
    No container windows in the neutron beam and hence no additional background.
  • Why laser heating ?
    No sample contamination by hot vapor from electrodes.
  • Why such a simple sample, why this specific metal?
    To answer this question we must first emphasize the importance of computer simulations in science. This is true for chemistry, astrophysics, etc. and also for neutrons. A new simulation tool is currently being developed making it possible to fully simulate a neutron experiment, i.e. to simulate the neutron source, the instrument optics, the sample and the resulting spectra. However this tool still has to be validated through comparisons with real experiments.
    An experiment on molten indium was selected for several reasons:
    - a simple material is required to have a reasonable chance that discrepancies between real and simulated data can be fully understood.
    - a molten metal can be easily simulated using ab-initio techniques while a solid material is more difficult.
    - indium has never been successfully measured before since the expected scattering signal is nearly zero for such a strong neutron absorber.


Defining the optimal parameters for such a difficult experiment is in itself a first proof of the value of simulated experiments.
A second came during the real experiment itself. Some features of the recorded spectra seemed strange to the measuring team. Simulations helped understand which part of the signal was the residual background from the support and which part was the very weak neutron scattering from indium.


Movie by Alain Filhol

©2007, Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, France.

Movie files (768x576 pixels, duration 2'96): .mp4 (18.8 Mb), .webm (20 Mb)
Movie files (640x480 pixels, duration 2'96): .mp4 (10.4 Mb), .webm (13.7 Mb).

English checked by: Mark johnson, Dec 2007.
Updates: A.Filhol, 16 Sept 2008, 3 may 2012.