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Neutrons for research and ongoing international collaboration

By . Published on 24 November 2016 in:
News, November 2016, ,

For research purposes, neutrons are released from the nucleus and are used as probes with which researchers can look inside a very wide variety of materials, without damaging them. For example, with neutrons one can look inside a big car engine, investigate drug delivery, see how plants uptake water, get insights into the development of superconductors.

When beams of neutrons are used to probe small samples, they have the power to reveal what cannot be seen using other types of radiation. Neutrons appear to behave either as particles or waves or microscopic magnetic dipoles. These specific properties enable them to yield information which is often impossible to obtain using other techniques.

Neutrons can:

  • show the structure of matter; where atoms are located, and how they move
  • help analyse the magnetic properties of materials, at the atomic scale
  • locate hydrogen atoms
  • highlight special structural features.

Neutron scattering
Neutron scattering

The European neutron consortium

Europe is home to over 15 large research infrastructures where neutrons are produced for science. Neutron facilities provide beam time to scientists, industrial companies, or even museum staff who need neutrons to analyse a range of materials.

A total of 18 neutron sources and institutions from 12 countries have been working together for a number of years now (for information on the impact of the former NMI3 project see the interactive brochure here). The consortium is now called SINE2020 (Science and Innovation in Europe in 2020) and is funded by the European Union through the H2020 programme. It will run from October 1, 2015 to the end of September 2019. SINE2020 has two objectives:

  1. Preparing Europe for the unique opportunities at the future European Spallation Source
  2. Developing the innovation potential of neutron facilities.

To achieve its goals, SINE2020 will develop new and improved services for the facilities’ users, in an approach that includes outreach, samples, instrumentation, R&D technology, software, consultancy to Industry, and training.

If you wish to learn more about neutron scattering, please visit our website at http://sine2020.eu where you can get to know the schools supported by SINE2020, or register to learn neutron scattering for free on the e-learning platform http://e-neutrons.org.

ENSA brochure
ENSA brochure

Neutron sources around the globe

SINE2020 also supports the international platform Neutronsources.org, in collaboration with neutron scientists and communications officers across the world. The website contains comprehensive information about most neutron sources and associations, as well as neutron-related news, events, job vacancies, history, and other resources. Have you got a brilliant idea for a research experiment? The website displays deadlines for submission of proposals and also the operating periods.

If you would like a slide or brochures to inform your students where to get information about neutron scattering, don’t hesitate to contact us!



  1. Research project on the use of information in the innovation process
  2. Albert Polman is awarded the EPS QEOD Prize for Research into the Science of Light
  3. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2016

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