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The Significance of Research with Neutrons

Research with neutrons, with its interdisciplinary approach, is indispensable for modern science. It makes a major contribution to solving the grand challenges facing mankind in areas such as the environment, energy, key technologies and life sciences.

Acting as a unique probe, the neutron allows us to gain deep insights into condensed matter. Neutron scattering renders the study of structures ranging from picometres to micrometres, and movements on time scales from picoseconds to microseconds accessible. Using imaging and kinematic methods, ever larger structures and slower movements become visible.  It is indeed the large spatial and temporal windows they offer, combined with high penetration capabilities, their non-destructive properties,  contrast variation options, as well as their sensitivity to magnetic phenomena which makes neutrons so unique and irreplaceable in the field of condensed matter research.

Making large-scale equipment and devices available to scientists at universities and non-university research institutions across national borders is one of the Helmholtz Association's central missions. In this way, Jülich Centre for Neutron Science (JCNS) makes a significant contribution to this key function.

Jülich Centre for Neutron Science

Jülich Centre for Neutron Science (JCNS) operates instruments at leading national and international sources: at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ) in Garching, Germany, at the high-flux reactor at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, and at the first megawatt-class (MW) spallation source, SNS, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA. These instruments are made available for external users to conduct experiments by means of a procedure whereby proposals are reviewed by an independent group of experts. Thus, JCNS offers its users access to state-of-the-art neutron instruments under consistent conditions at the neutron source, affording the best conditions for each individual experiment undertaken. JCNS provides 17 specialized neutron spectrometers at the world's top neutron sources, thus providing its users with outstanding quality. In addition, JCNS serves as the organizational framework for Forschungszentrum Jülich's globally-recognized development programme for methods and instruments, as well as for its own research programmes in the field of Key Technologies.


The special role of JCNS in neutron research in Germany is based on its own consistent research programme, which relies on neutron-scattering methods in the areas of soft condensed and biological matter, as well as on nanomagnetism and highly correlated electron systems. In both areas, JCNS pursues (i) neutron instrumentation at the cutting edge of science and technology, based on a rigorous method development programme; (ii) the operation and development of specialized, and, in some cases, unique sample environments; (iii) the development of appropriate data reduction and modelling programmes; (iv) a clear scientific profile of those in charge of its instruments; (v) the provision of complementary techniques and supplementary laboratory facilities for preparing and characterizing samples. Finally, within Germany, JCNS leads the way in exploiting new opportunities for research with neutrons at the MW spallation sources


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