Neutron techniques

Neutron diffraction

Neutron diffraction is a powerful and often unique tool for studying the structure of objects used in everyday life. It is in fact a very precise technique for measuring the structure of crystalline materials, ranging from the simplest to the most complex.

Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS)

Small-angle scattering does not attempt to see atoms but is interested in the organisation of particles in dispersed systems. As scattering elements are large (grains, bubbles, micelles,..), diffraction occurs at very small angles.

Neutron reflectometry

Neutron reflectometry gives information on the structure of thin films (depth-dependent composition) and of solid surfaces. It is also a powerful technique to study solid/solid, solid/liquid, liquid/liquid and liquid/air interfaces.

Neutron spectroscopy

Neutron spectroscopic is an excellent means of studying how the atoms and molecules vibrate, rotate and move. Inelastic neutron scattering observes the change in the energy of the neutron as it scatters from a sample and can be used to probe a wide variety of different physical phenomena such as the motions of atoms (diffusional or hopping), the rotational modes of molecules, sound modes and molecular vibration, recoil in quantum fluids, magnetic and quantum excitations or even electronic transitions.

Strain and texture analysis

SALSA is a ‘strain imager’ which determines the spatially resolved residual strain from the local variation in crystal lattice parameters in a wide range of mainly engineering components and materials.


Neutron imaging is a non-destructive technique, highly complementary to X-ray imaging, that can see inside materials and examine processes therein. White beam imaging is based on the attenuation of the neutron beam, due to absorption or scattering, through an object. Tomography is performed by rotating the sample and reconstructing the 3 dimensional volume from a series of images. The instrument D50 has dedicated setups for neutron imaging and tomography.