Since the mid 1940’s, the research reactors had provided stable and reliable neutron sources for experimental research of neutron scattering. By recognizing unique features and powerful probe ability of neutrons, particularly for material and life science, Europe and North America accelerated building high-flux beam reactors dedicated to neutron scattering in 1960’s and 1970’s. A large number of neutron users in these regions resulted in the formation of the European Neutron Scattering Association [ENSA] and the Neutron Scattering Society of America [NSSA], respectively.
In the Asia-Oceania Region, on the other hand, India and Australia initiated neutron scattering research in the mid 1950’s followed by Japan in the 1960’s by building medium sized research reactors with about 10MW of thermal power. For the last quarter of a century since the mid 1980’s, a large number of new (refurbished) advanced reactors with more than 20MW have been built as plotted in Figure 1. The Advanced reactors are: DHRUVA (1985, BARC, India), RGS-GAS (1987, BATAN, Indonesia), JRR-3 (1990, JAEA, Japan), HANARO (1997, KAERI, Korea), OPAL (2007, ANSTO, Australia), and CARR (2010, CIAE, China) now in operation. The smaller sized research reactors in operation are also displayed while there was many decommissioned ones removed from Figure 1.
In contrast to such reactor-based neutron sources, a new neutron source driven by an accelerator has been developed progressively since the mid 1960’s worldwide. Nowadays there are several large-scale accelerator-based spallation neutron sources with their proton power of 100kW-1MW. The temporal pulse structure of incident neutron beams, in conjunction with a time-of-flight [TOF] method, provides a unique technique to explore a large area of energy-momentum space complementary to the reactor-based steady neutron beams. In the Asia-Oceania Region, Japan pioneered such a neutron source and in 2008 built the Japan Spallation Neutron Source [JSNS] with 1MW as one of major facilities of the Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex [J-PARC] as plotted in Figure 1. It has been opened to worldwide users since December 2008. Recently China started construction of the China Spallation Neutron Source [CSNS] with its 100kW proton beam power (upgradable to 500kW) at Dongguan and it will be completed in 2015 and opened to users in 2018.
A major facility with a large-scale neutron source plays a central role to promote neutron science and technology domestically as well as internationally. Usually a facility’s own user group is naturally formed to provide a vital mechanism to interact between the facility and users through user programs. Such a user group becomes a central core to organize the user society not only for a particular facility but also for the nationwide community. In the Asia-Oceania Region, there are several neutron scattering societies so far established as shown in Table 1.
Culmination of such a trend in user communities in the Asia-Oceania Region resulted in the formation of the Asia-Oceania Neutron Scattering Association [AONSA] in August of 2008, with its overriding purposes to provide a platform for discussion and a focus for action in neutron scattering and related topics in the Asia-Oceania Region. The membership of AONSA is based on the established Societies as listed in Table 1, not based on individual researchers or students, each of which pays annual membership fees and nominates 2 members to the Executive Committee [EC]. In addition to the 12 current members, the EC has also accepted several observers from countries or regions without formal societies (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) and from major facilities (OPAL/Australia, HANARO/Korea, JRR-3/Japan, J-PARC/Japan, DHRUVA/India, CARR/China, CSNS/China plotted in Figure 1) and from projects.
The EC is the highest-level mechanism operating AONSA and it meets twice a year at various places to promote neutron science and technology region-wide. The latest and 12th EC Meeting was held in Daejeon, Korea, as shown in Figure 2. In order to take quick action on various issues, the EC selects Board members such as the President, the Vice President, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and the Public Relations Officer.
The neutron scattering users in the Asia-Oceania Region are currently estimated as follows: 370 in Australia and New Zealand, 450 in China, 200 in India, 15 in Indonesia, 1,050 in Japan, 280 in Korea, 15 in Malaysia, 10 in Mongolia, 15 in Singapore and 75 in Taiwan. The total number is about 2,500, which is nearly the same as NSSA while ENSA has about 6,000 users.
One of the major purposes of AONSA is to train young scientists and students in this research field. The annual “AONSA Neutron School” has been held at major facilities five times so far under the auspices of IAEA and hosting institutes. Each time about 50 attendees enjoyed a series of lectures, hands-on neutron beam experiments and data analysis during the week.
The quadrennial conference called the Asia-Oceania Conference on Neutron Scattering [AOCNS] was very successfully held for the first time in 2011 in Tsukuba, Japan with about 600 participants and 500 oral and poster presentations. The second AOCNS will be held in Sydney, Australia in July 2015.
AONSA has established the biennial “AONSA Prize” to recognize outstanding research careers with a significant impact or contribution to the use or development of neutron science or technology in the Asia-Oceania Region. The first AONSA Prize was awarded to Prof. Noboru Watanabe of Japan, in 2011 for his pioneering development of accelerator-based neutron sources and instrumentations, and his great contribution to the establishment of the neutron science community and finally to the realization of one of the most powerful pulsed neutron scattering facilities at J-PARC. In 2013 Prof. B. Anantha Dasannacharya of India, was awarded for his pioneering contribution to neutron scattering in the Asia-Oceania region, through his early development of neutron spectroscopy and its application to the dynamics in low-temperature liquids and molecular solids, and his active promotion of regional and international science as well as the national user program in India.
The “AONSA Newsletters” have been issued electronically twice a year to provide the latest information from the AONSA Office, societies and facilities. It is available from the AONSA website.
As a global cooperation organization, AONSA has established a cooperative agreement with the Asia-Oceania Forum on Synchrotron Radiation Research [AOFSRR] representing the synchrotron radiation community in the region. Both the synchrotron and the neutron scattering communities have shared the same destiny because both require a large-scale facility such as a reactor and an accelerator for their “Small Science at Large Facility” research. In order to exchange information and to pursue common issues for the worldwide neutron community, AONSA initiated the “Three Presidents Meeting” with ENSA and NSSA. To date there have been three such meetings. Most recently AONSA has successfully invited the International Conference on Neutron Scattering in 2017 (ICNS2017; quadrennial international conference) to Daejeon, Korea. This fact reflects that both European and American communities represented by ENSA and NSSA, respectively have recognized AONSA as their equal partner forming the tri-polar framework covering the globe. AONSA will strongly support their Korean colleagues’ effort to host ICNS2017 successfully.