New User at the ILL?
What can neutrons do for your science?
The neutron is a subatomic particle with no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. It also forms part of the nucleus of an atom.
The unique properties of this particle can help solve all sorts of scientific questions, in particle and nuclear physics and by scattering neutrons from samples to learn about the structure and dynamics of condensed matter systems in physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, etc.
In the "Neutrons for Society" pages, you'll find general information on the neutron, on experimental techniques using neutrons, and how they have made decisive contributions to science:
- neutrons in general
- neutron techniques
- science at the ILL,
There are also chapters with examples on
What the ILL offers
How do I access ILL's instruments?
Beam time at the ILL can be obtained in different ways, but is typically arranged via the standard submission of a scientific proposal to be evaluated by a scientific panel. Proposal rounds are generally held twice a year, with submission deadlines in February and September. For a successful application it is important to define clearly the scientific case and the proposed experiments. At this stage, especially if it is your first proposal, you need to identify the neutron technique, instruments, sample environment and scientists, whose assistance you will need for your research.
You will find below a brief description of neutron scattering techniques and the list of ILL instruments which can be searched by keywords. Scientific contact information is available directly on the webpage of each instrument.
Access to the ILL instruments is free for academic and industrial users, as long as you comply with the ILL data and publication policy (pdf - 258 Ki). ILL users enjoy privileged access to highly-specialised neutron instrumentation and the expertise of its scientific and technical staff. Industrial access to beam time can also be fully confidential and fast-tracked. For information on conditions, please contact the Industrial Liaison Office.
Who do I contact ?
Once you have identified the neutron technique and possible instruments, directly contact one of the scientists. They will probably serve as your ILL local contact. They will help you from proposal preparation to publication. In some cases they may refer you to another scientist as a more suitable local contact.
Science at the ILL is organised into scientific Colleges,whose scientific secretaries can guide you to the instrument you need.
If you need help to get in touch with a scientist, do not hesitate to contact us!
We will be in touch within 48 hours.
Email for new users
How do I submit a proposal?
You will find more information on the submission procedures on the page "Applying for beamtime".
The Hints section will also help you in writing your proposal.
This figure shows the time and length (energy and wavevector) scales of the various neutron-based techniques (Courtesy of Ken Andersen - ESS). You can use it to identify the techniques which will best match your needs and then consult the list below to choose the appropriate instruments.
Neutron diffraction reveals structural information on the arrangement of atoms and magnetic moments in condensed matter.
Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) explores the mesostructures of liquids and solids on length scales ranging from 1 nanometre to about a micron.
Neutron reflectometry gives information (depth-dependent composition) on the structure of thin films and surfaces which can be solid/solid, solid/liquid, liquid/liquid and liquid/air interfaces.
Neutron spectroscopy (TOF, TAS, Spin-echo, Backscattering) probes the dynamics of magnetic moments, molecules and lattices over length scales ranging from a few angstroms to tens of nanometers, and over timescales from tens of picoseconds up to the microsecond.
Neutron imaging is a non-destructive technique, highly complementary to X-ray imaging, that can see inside materials and examine processes therein.
It is essential to study samples under the right conditions of temperature, humidity, pressure, magnetic field, etc. For this, an extensive range of equipment is available – the appropriate sample environment should be indicated in the proposal. See the sample environment web pages for more information.
The ILL instruments and scientific keywords
|Powder diffractometers||Instrument type||Application|
|D1B||Two-axis diffractometer||- Determination of magnetic structure|
- Study of spin reorientation transitions
- Phase transitions investigated by thermodiffractometry
- Time resolved experiments kinetics studies
- Dynamical studies in solid state chemistry
- In situ neutron diffraction
- In situ chemistry, chemical intercalation via solid-gas reaction
- Texture analysis
|D2B||High-resolution two-axis diffractometer|
- Structural chemistry of non-rigid molecules
|D20||High intensity two-axis diffractometer with variable resolution|
|D4||Disordered materials diffractometer|
- Short and intermediate range order in liquids and amorphous materials
|D7||Diffuse scattering spectrometer|
- Magnetic short range order in frustrated magnets and spin-glasses
|SALSA||Strain imager for engineering applications|
- Mechanical behaviour of metal and ceramic materials
|Single crystal diffractometers||Instrument type||Application|
|CYCLOPS||Laue single-crystal diffractometer||- Rapid structural studies|
- Reciprocal-space surveys; identification of twinning and incommensurability
- Very small samples, particularly attractive for high-pressure experiments
- Complete nuclear and magnetic structure determinations through phase transitions
|D3||Spin polarised hot neutron diffractometer|
- High field configuration: Magnetic from factors; Magnetisation distributions
|D9||Hot neutron 4-circle diffractometer|
- General themes: Structural phase transitions ; Atomic anharmonicity; Structural disorder; Hydrogen bonding; Packing of organic molecules; Magnetic structures, especially Gd ; Electron density studies; Twinning and superlattice problems; Ordering in alloys
|D10||4-circle diffractometer with three-axis energy analysis||- Conventional crystallography|
- Magnetic crystal structures
- Modulated structures
- Phase transitions, phase diagrams
- Diffraction at extremely high or low temperatures, under pressure, or in high magnetic fields
- Diffuse scattering
- Quasi-elastic scattering
- Crystalline thin films and multilayers
- Inelastic scattering in four-circle geometry
|D19||Thermal neutron diffractometer for single-crystal and fibre diffraction D19|
- Single crystal: Organometallic complexes; Hydrogen-bonded systems; Mineral composition; Changes of structure with temperature; Biological molecules and proteins
|D23||Thermal neutron two-axis diffractometer for single-crystals D23|
- Determination of magnetic structures (in high field and/or high pressure, and at low temperature: Study of magnetic phase diagrams (field-temperature pressure-temperature, or both); Determination of magnetisation density maps (with the polarised neutron option)
|OrientExpress||Laue-neutron diffractometer||- Minute sample orientation|
- Assessment of sample quality
- Diffuse scattering
|Large-scale structure diffractometers||Instrument type||Application|
|D11||Lowest momentum transfer & lowest background small-angle neutron scattering (SANS)|
- Polymers and colloids
|D22||Large dynamic range small-angle diffractometer|
- Soft matter
|D16||Small momentum transfer diffractometer|
|D33||Massive dynamic q-range small angle diffractometer|
-Nano and mesoscale materials
Neutron protein crystallographic projects aim to address questions concerning:
|SuperADAM||Advanced reflectometer for the analysis of materials|
- Solid Films and Superlattices
|FIGARO||Fluid Interfaces Grazing Angles Reflectometer|
- Specular scattering from 'free liquid' (air/liquid, liquid/liquid) samples but also air/solid and solid/liquid interfaces
|D17||Neutron reflectometer with horizontal scattering geometry|
- Study of surfaces and buried interfaces of thin solid films and multilayers
|Large-scale structure diffractometers||Instrument type||Application|
Neutron reflectometer and neutron imaging instrument for 5D (3D+ time + X/N) studies of thermo-chemo-hydro-mechanical processes
- Study of incremental strains in 3D
|Three-axis spectrometers||Instrument type||Application|
|IN1-LAGRANGE||Hot neutron 3-axis spectrometer||- Dynamics of hydrogen-containing materials|
- H-bond dynamics of water confined in porous media
- Location in the host matrix of molecular groups active in selectivity processes
- Hydrides of metals and intermetallic compounds
- Zeolites and metallic catalysts
- Nano-crystalline materials for industry and applications (fullerenes, nanotubes, polymers and porous media)
- Geochemistry matters for earth science (processes related to water, H-bond dynamics...)
|ThALES||Cold Triple-Axes Spectrometer with polarisation option|
- Very high cold neutron flux and good signal-to-noise
|IN8||High-flux thermal 3-axis spectrometer|
IN8 is optimised for inelastic measurements with an energy transfer in the range of a few meV to about one hundred meV and is used to investigate:- Magnetic excitations, lattice vibrations and excitations in liquids
- Samples of small volume and weak inelastic response due to its high incident flux
|IN12||Cold 3-axis spectrometer||- Low energy magnetic excitation spectrum|
- Lattice dynamics at low frequency
- Critical scattering and phase transition phenomena
- Weak static magnetic moments (10-2 μB)
- Magnetic multilayers
- Dynamics of the glass transition at low momentum transfer
- Dynamics of amorphous materials at low momentum transfer
- Dynamics of biological model membranes
|IN20||Thermal 3-axis spectrometer with polarisation analysis||- Magnetic fluctuations and quantum critical points|
- Spin waves and their coupling to lattice modes
- Crystal field excitations
- Spin canting in amorphous magnets
- High resolution line-width studies (TASSE)
|IN22||Thermal 3-axis spectrometer with polarisation analysis||- Magnetic and structural excitations on single crystal with neutrons of 5-100 meV incident energy .|
- Longitudinal and spherical polarimetry of elastic or inelastic contributions (spherical polarimetry allowing measurements of inelastic nuclear-magnetic interference terms)
- Polarized neutron inelastic scattering up to 12T magnetic field.
- Magnetic phase diagram up to 40T with large pulsed magnetic field.
- Life-time of magnetic and structural excitations with Neutron Resonance Spin Echo (NRSE) option
- Experiments requiring a good resolution in wave vector and a low intrinsic neutron background
|Time-of-flight spectrometers||Instrument type||Applications|
|IN5||Disk chopper time-of-flight spectrometer|
- Local and long-range diffusion in disordered systems (liquids, molecular crystals, amorphous solids -superionic glasses, orientational glasses, spin glasses-, polymers, hydrogen-metal systems, ionic conductors
|SHARP||Cold neutron time-focussing TOF spectrometer|
- Dynamics and relaxation properties in condensed matter exploiting both nuclear and magnetic scattering
|PANTHER||Thermal neutron time-of-flight spectrometer|
- Crystal field excitations, spin-waves in magnetically ordered materials, magnetic excitations in quantum and/or frustrated magnets.
|High-resolution spectrometers||Instrument type||Application|
|IN13||Thermal neutron backscattering spectrometer||IN13 is mainly devoted to life sciences, in particular to the study of the dynamical features of macromolecular compounds in the μeV energy region, but scientific applications can be also found in areas of materials science, solid-state physics, geophysics and chemistry.|
|IN15||Spin-echo spectrometer with time-of-flight and focusing options||The neutron spin-echo technique is a unique inelastic scattering technique that measures velocity changes experienced by neutrons when they interact with matter by using their spin ½ as a timer. This spectrometry has unmatched sensitivity and it mainly makes possible the analysis of very slow atomic or molecular diffusive movements. Typically, the relaxation times and the distances that can be accessed with IN15 are 0.001 to 250 ns and 1 to 500 Å respectively.|
|IN16B||High flux cold neutron backscattering HR spectrometer||- An ideal application for backscattering spectroscopy is rotational tunneling of molecular rotors (e.g. -CH3,-NH4). New developments in this field have arisen from combining neutron spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations. Tunneling in amorphous systems were first detected on IN16 as quasielastic broadening.|
- Hyperfine splitting of some elements (e.g. Co, Nd, Ho, V,...) is another example for inelastic spectroscopy in the micro-eV energy range.
- Among the classical fields of application for quasielastic scattering are relaxation processes in glasses, H-diffusion in metals or proton and ionic conductors as well as diffusion of molecules confined in host matrices. Sometimes this research is related to fundamental studies for applications as energy materials or catalysis.
- Of wide interest is the study of local dynamics in complex materials like polymers, membranes and biological samples
|WASP||High-intensity spin-echo spectrometer||- Study of the motion of biological functional groups|
- Diffusive dynamics in incoherent scatterers
- Dynamics in molecular magnets
- Dynamics of 1d and 2d confined molecules
- Development of new models for systems near the glass transition
- Small samples (magnetic or other)
|Nuclear & particle physics group||Instrument type||Application|
|FIPPS||Gamma-ray spectrometer for thermal neutron induced reactions||FIPPS is composed of a highly collimated halo-free pencil neutron beam impinging on a stable or radioactive target surrounded by a high resolution High Purity Germanium detectors array. This setup consists in the phase I of the instrument. In a second phase, the High Purity Germanium detectors array will be coupled to a fission fragment spectrometer based on a gas filled magnetic (GFM) device.|
|PF1B||Polarised cold neutron beam facility||PF1B is dedicated to the particle and nuclear physics experiments. It provides the strongest polarised and unpolarised cold neutron beam in the world currently available for particle and nuclear physics. PF1B is the simplest but most flexible instrument at the ILL. Some of the experiments just use its neutron beam, other profit from its many devices needed to polarise, form, characterise, shield or remove the neutron beam.|
|PF2||Ultracold neutron beam facility||- The search for a neutron electric dipole moment|
- Neutron beta decay studies in a magnetic traps as well as in liquid and solid wall traps
- Gravitationally bound quantum states
- Ultracold neutrons (UCN) spectroscopy and diffractometry and optics
- Very cold neutrons (VCN) interferometry
- UCN quasielastic heating studies
- The development of a neutron microscope and UCN monochromators, etc
- Investigation of materials suited in UCN experiments
|PN1||Fission product spectrometer (Lohengrin)|
- Investigation of spectroscopic properties of exotic neutron-rich nuclei
|S18||Thermal neutron interferometer||- Neutron interferometry|
- Measurement of basic quantum physics laws
- Measurement of neutron-nuclei scattering lengths
- Quantum contextuality
- Decoherence, dephasing and depolarisation experiments
- Experiments with non-classical neutron states