Neutron diffraction is a non-destructive technique that is used to probe the structure of materials at the atomic level. The sample is placed within a neutron beam and the angles at which the neutrons are deflected or scattered by the material are recorded to generate a “diffraction pattern” from which structural information can be extracted. Diffraction occurs when the neutrons encounter atomic nuclei or magnetic dipoles within the sample. With an effective wavelength of 0.1-2.0 nm, thermal neutrons are ideally suited for probing atomic-scale structures with high resolution. As neutrons do not possess an electric charge, they readily pass through matter regardless of local charge distribution; in consequence, a neutron beam is capable of penetrating well beyond the surface of a sample, to a depth of centimeters in most condensed phases.Neutron diffraction is widely used in engineering for stress mapping and to examine the mechanical behaviour of materials and engineering components. It is also an important technique for characterizing the magnetic properties of advanced materials, such as those studied at the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research (BIMR).
The Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research, in conjunction with the McMaster Nuclear Reactor, has recently installed a new, state-of-the-art neutron diffractometer at MNR. For more information or to inquire about instrument availability, please contact BIMR.