Rex Hjelm Report On Concurrent Neutron and X-ray Scattering and Spectroscopy

Rex Hjelm Report On Concurrent Neutron and X-ray Scattering and Spectroscopy

Rex Hjelm Report On Concurrent Neutron and X-ray Scattering and Spectroscopy

New Mexico Consortium scientist Rex Hjelm, recently co-authored an NSF report supporting the concept of facilities that enable concurrent neutron and x-ray (NeX) scattering measurements. The report came out of an international workshop, “National Science Foundation Workshop on Scientific Need of Combined Neutrons and X-rays”, that was held in June 2022.

This workshop, attended by 70 national and international experts, one of a series of NSF workshops on x-ray and neutron scattering, was held to ascertain the need for concurrent, compact NeX capabilities to advance US science of complex materials and systems. 

Neutrons and X-rays are versatile toolboxes for chemists, biologists, physicists, materials scientists and geoscientists, as these techniques explore the structure and dynamics of materials over the atomic through meso-scales over time scales from hours down to less than one-trillionth of a second. Advances in X-ray and neutron techniques have catalyzed breakthroughs in these fields, including development of advanced materials and advances in biomedical research. When combined, X-ray and neutron measurements provide considerably more information than each alone, due to strong complementarity of the techniques. Currently, these advantages are often compromised by the non-co-location of the sources, requiring considerable time and distance between measurements.  This problem will be eliminated by co-location of compact X-ray and neutron instrumentation for concurrent measurements. The new facilities will be applied to scientific and technological problems as diverse as the chemistry of lithium battery degradation, plant roots seeking water and chemical nutrients, structures of biologically relevant macromolecular chemical structures and condensed matter physics leading to advanced electronic devices.

At present, there are no concurrent X-ray and neutron scattering and imaging facilities in the US that can meet these chemical and structural demands. The workshop also explored needs and means for training of students in combined X-ray and neutron instrumentation development, for crafting advanced experimental protocols, not generally available at the current large user facilities. Furthermore, there is a critical need to improve access to these advanced characterization techniques, due to the extreme oversubscription of national facilities that currently provide these capabilities. An NeX compact midscale facility will address these needs.

Hjelm states that while there was considerable buy-in to the idea of such a facility, US funding agencies are not yet invested. On the other-hand there are funded developments for compact sources in Europe (e.g. LENS cooperative) and Japan (e.g. RIKEN program) that will provide the technology for co-located, concurrent NeX measurements This document will be used as a discussion tool for user input to current facility management to move these ideas forward to realization.

To read the workshop summary Hjelm and his co-authors submitted, see: The Scientific Case For Concurrent Neutron and X-ray Scattering and Spectroscopy