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 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.
To understand the properties of materials it is also necessary to have knowledge of how the atoms and molecules vibrate, rotate and move within the medium. Inelastic neutron scattering is an excellent means of studying these movements.
See also this 3D interactive animation demonstrating the interaction of a neutron with the atomic spins of a magnetic crystal. To keep the animation simple, only one atomic layer is shown.
Animation by Martin Boehm and Alain Filhol, developed in 2011 by the firm IPTE
Quasi elastic neutron scattering refers to those inelastic processes in neutron scattering that are almost elastic. They correspond to stochastic motions (translational or rotational diffusion) of atoms or molecules.
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.
Measuring gamma rays emitted by excited atomic nuclei with high precision allows us to measure a certain number of fundamental constants, the internal structures of the nucleus and the forces that keep all atoms in a crystal together.