New User at the ILL?

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

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.

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.

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.

Neutron techniques

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.

Sample environment

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

To help you find the relevant instrument(s) scroll below or search using a keyword:
Powder diffractometersInstrument typeApplication
D1BTwo-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
- Physisorption
D2BHigh-resolution two-axis diffractometer

- Structural chemistry of non-rigid molecules
- Ab-initio structure solution from powders
- Crystal and magnetic structure determination of powder compounds (even small samples)
- Dependance in temperature/pressure/magnetic field structural (or magnetic) studies for powders

D20High intensity two-axis diffractometer with variable resolution

- Thermodiffractometry
- Magnetism
- Kinetics
- Multi-stroboscopy
- Texture
- Very small samples
- Highly absorbing samples
- Disordered systems
- Physisorption

D4Disordered materials diffractometer

- Short and intermediate range order in liquids and amorphous materials
- Solving environment of atoms combining isotopic substitution and methods of first and second difference
- Magnetic structure studies on very absorbent systems (containing Gd, Eu, etc.)
- Pair-Distribution Function (PDF) analysis of powder diffraction patterns

D7Diffuse scattering spectrometer

- Magnetic short range order in frustrated magnets and spin-glasses
- Studies of non-collinear ferromagnetism
- Extended magnetic defects in antiferromagnetic materials
- Studies of hydrogen diffusion in metals
- Separation of collective and single particle excitations

SALSAStrain imager for engineering applications

- Mechanical behaviour of metal and ceramic materials
- Transport sector (aerospace, terrestrial, marine)
- Metallurgy
- Additive Manufacturing
- Composite materials
- Post processing treatments (surface, heat treatments)
- In-situ testing (load, fatigue, temperature)

Single crystal diffractometersInstrument typeApplication
CYCLOPSLaue 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
D3Spin polarised hot neutron diffractometer

- High field configuration: Magnetic from factors; Magnetisation distributions
- Zero-field configuration: Non-collinear magnetic structures; Antiferromagnetic form factors; Spherical polarimetry
- Liquids configuration: structure of liquid and amorphous materials with high hydrogen content

D9Hot 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
- Fundamentals of diffraction: Extinction effects; Test of dynamical theory; Thermal diffuse scattering; Resonance scattering
- Special use: atomic resolution neutron holography

D104-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
D19Thermal 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
- Fibres: Hydrogen bonding in biopolymers; Hydratation studies of biopolymers; Structural studies of industrial polymers
- Polycrystals: Texture Alpine rocks and magnetic polymers

D23Thermal 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)
- Mainly in condensed matter physics: Strongly correlated electron systems (heavy fermion systems; borocarbides compounds; low dimensional magnetic systems; charge/orbital ordering systems); Molecular magnetism

OrientExpressLaue-neutron diffractometer- Minute sample orientation
- Assessment of sample quality
- Diffuse scattering
Large-scale structure diffractometersInstrument typeApplication
D11Lowest momentum transfer & lowest background small-angle neutron scattering (SANS)

- Polymers and colloids
- Polymer blends; solutions; Micelles; Dendrimers; Liquid crystals; Gels; Reaction kinetics of mixed systems
- Materials science
- Phase separation in alloys and glasses; Morphologies of superalloys; Microporosity in ceramics; Interfaces and surfaces of catalysts
- Biological macromolecules
- Size and shape of proteins; nucleic acids; Biomembranes; Drug vectors
- Magnetism
- Flux line lattices in superconductors; Magnetic correlations

D22Large dynamic range small-angle diffractometer

- Soft matter
- Polymer, colloids, membranes and self assembly
- Biological macromolecules in solution
- Biophysics
- Magnetism, Nanoscale structure of materials
- Kinetic studies

D16Small momentum transfer diffractometer

- Biology/Biophysics
- Colloids/Surfactants
- Polymer physics
- Materials science
- Surface science

D33Massive dynamic q-range small angle diffractometer

-Nano and mesoscale materials
-Materials science
-Polymers and colloids
-Self assembly of surfactants
-Biology and biophysics

LADIQuasi-laue diffractometer

Neutron protein crystallographic projects aim to address questions concerning:
- Enzymatic mechanism
- Ligand, drug or inhibitor-blinding interactions
- Solvent structure
- Structure dynamics and their implications

SuperADAMAdvanced reflectometer for the analysis of materials

- Solid Films and Superlattices
- Soft Films and Multilayers
- Materials Science Topics
- Technical developments

FIGAROFluid Interfaces Grazing Angles Reflectometer

- Specular scattering from 'free liquid' (air/liquid, liquid/liquid) samples but also air/solid and solid/liquid interfaces
- Off-specular scattering and GISANS from the above sample types
- Kinetics phenomena on a minute or slower time scale

D17Neutron reflectometer with horizontal scattering geometry

- Study of surfaces and buried interfaces of thin solid films and multilayers
- Solid-liquid interfaces and membranes
- Examination of off-specular reflectivity from atomic and magnetic in-plane structure
- Kinetic studies of interface evolution

Large-scale structure diffractometersInstrument typeApplication

Neutron reflectometer and neutron imaging instrument for 5D (3D+ time + X/N) studies of thermo-chemo-hydro-mechanical processes


  •  monochromatic imaging
  •  grating interferometry (dark field and phase contrast)
  •  bragg edge imaging
  •  polarised neutron imaging

-  Study of incremental strains in 3D
-  Aerospace Engineering
-  Additive Manufacturing
-  Energy production and storage
-  Neutron irradiation on electronic components
-  Study of spatial heterogenities
-  Study of porous media
-  Food under process and hydration
-  Plant sciences
-  Archeology


Three-axis spectrometersInstrument typeApplication
IN1-LAGRANGEHot 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...)
ThALESCold Triple-Axes Spectrometer with polarisation option

- Very high cold neutron flux and good signal-to-noise
- Excitations in magnetically ordered and disordered system
- Correlated electron systems
- Unconventional superconductors
- Frustrated and low-dimensional systems
- Spin liquid systems
- Spin-lattice coupling, electro-magnon
- Multiferroic materials
- Low-lying lattice excitations, phason modes

IN8High-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
IN12Cold 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
IN20Thermal 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)
IN22Thermal 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 spectrometersInstrument typeApplications
IN5Disk 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
- Dynamics of ’soft matter’, including gels, proteins and biological membranes
- Dynamics of quantum liquids
- Rotational tunnelling in molecular crystals
- Crystal field splitting
- Spin dynamics in high-TC superconductors
- Critical scattering phenomena in dense gases and solids

SHARPCold neutron time-focussing TOF spectrometer

- Dynamics and relaxation properties in condensed matter exploiting both nuclear and magnetic scattering
- Vibrational density of states of crystalline and amorphous solids
- Dynamics of soft condensed matter such as polymers, proteins, biological membranes and gels
- Local and long range diffusion of liquids, solutions and confined systems
- Properties of quantum liquids, Fermi and non-Fermi systems
- Phase transitions and quantum critical phenomena in polycrystals and single crystals
- Spin dynamics in high-Tc superconductors
- Properties of crystal field splittings

PANTHERThermal neutron time-of-flight spectrometer

- Crystal field excitations, spin-waves in magnetically ordered materials, magnetic excitations in quantum and/or frustrated magnets.
- Lattice dynamics: phonon dispersion and phonon density of states.
- Vibrational spectroscopy in the lower energy range.
- Quantum rotations/translations of small molecules in confinements.

High-resolution spectrometersInstrument typeApplication
IN13Thermal neutron backscattering spectrometerIN13 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.
IN15Spin-echo spectrometer with time-of-flight and focusing optionsThe 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.
IN16BHigh 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
WASPHigh-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 groupInstrument typeApplication
FIPPSGamma-ray spectrometer for thermal neutron induced reactionsFIPPS 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.
PF1BPolarised cold neutron beam facilityPF1B 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.
PF2Ultracold 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
PN1Fission product spectrometer (Lohengrin)

- Investigation of spectroscopic properties of exotic neutron-rich nuclei
- Fission process investigation and industrial applications

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