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Neutron Measurements for Materials Design & Characterization Workshop
August 21-22, 2014 Executive Summary
The success of America’s industrial and academic institutions and America’s role as an economic leader in the world is built upon innovation and entrepreneurship in fields of science and engineering. Maintaining this leadership requires pushing the boundaries of discovery and the constant creation of new knowledge to provide a pathway for the development of new technology. Neutron scattering is a key measurement technique for elucidating a broad range of physical phenomena ranging from the atomic structure of new materials, the complex interplay of electronic and magnetic behavior, the interactions and flow of colloids and macromolecules and the dynamics and superstructure of complex biomolecule assemblies. In the era of big data and combinatorial materials synthesis, neutron scattering is a leading tool for guiding the design, discovery and characterization new materials. The NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) has been at the forefront of neutron science for the past 20+ years and with the construction of a new instrument guide hall, the installation of five new neutron guides , a new fundamental physics station, improvements in current instruments, novel detector technologies, two innovative new instruments (VSANS, CANDoR, and an imaging station with a neutron microscope) under development, and planning for a new D2 cold source, the NCNR is poised to remain a leader in neutron research in the U.S. and the world for many years to come.
With the new guide hall there are additional opportunities to strengthen the science in both hard and soft matter.
Neutron scattering has provided fundamental insight into the structure and dynamics of soft matter for more than 40 years through deuterium labeling and by exploiting the large incoherent cross-section of hydrogen. With advances in optics and instrumentation there are a wealth of opportunities for new understanding in colloid and polymer science and in biology using neutron scattering. Recent advances in synthesis of designer colloid systems allow sophisticated control of particle size, shape and surface chemistry that provide a large design space for self-assembled structures. Many of the most important applications of polymers involve multicomponent systems with end-use properties that are optimized by kinetically trapping the nanoscale structure. Neutron scattering can provide both an understanding of the structure and information on the kinetics of structural evolution and local dynamics within the morphology. In contrast to bulk systems, polymer surfaces and interfaces hold the key to our understanding of some physical processes. For example the location of just a few layers of water molecules can be tracked using neutron reflectometry during the initiation of corrosion or the operation of proton exchange membrane fuel cells.
The wealth of information on biomolecular structure provided by X-ray diffraction, NMR and cryo-TEM over the past 50 years has helped build an understanding of biological function on the molecular level. It is now apparent that there are many supramolecular assemblies of proteins with DNA, RNA, lipids and other biomolecules that play a critical role in cellular function. Neutron scattering can provide powerful insights into the structure and local dynamics of these assemblies through the use of selective deuteration to highlight (or contrast match) parts of the
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