Neutron scattering has emerged as a mainstream scientific endeavour over the last 20–30 years. Having previously been the preserve of researchers studying superconductivity and magnetism, neutron scattering is now opening up new areas such as investigating archaeological artefacts or studying star formation. In this podcast Physics World news editor Michael Banks travels to the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source in Oxfordshire, UK, to find out how scientists are using neutrons in their research and how the lab is looking to attract more users from industry
ISIS is Europe’s only pulsed source of neutrons and is visited by more than 3000 users from over 30 different countries each year. In 2008 the facility turned on its second target station, which gave the centre space for a further 18 instruments on top of the 20 that are housed in the first target station. Recently, construction was completed of 11 of those 18 instruments, meaning ISIS is just seven short of full capacity.
Many of the new instruments at ISIS will be used by industry – a growth area for neutron-scattering research. Physics World was given a tour of ISIS by Chris Frost, who is industry liaison manager as well as an instrument scientist on ChipIR – a new industry-focused instrument. In this podcast, Frost also outlines how ChipIR can help the aerospace industry mitigate problems when electronic components are hit by neutrons. He also touches on why ISIS will continue to be a major player in neutron scattering even when the €1.8bn European Spallation Source in Lund, Sweden, turns on in 2020.
This podcast was produced in conjunction with a Physics World focus issue on neutron science that was published in October. All full members of the Institute of Physics received a print edition of the focus issue along with their copy of the October issue of Physics World. You can also read the focus issue free of charge on your desktop or on any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet via the Physics World app, available from the App Store and Google Play.