ORNL neutron user meeting highlights novel research, DOE priorities, and facility upgrades

ORNL neutron user meeting highlights novel research, DOE priorities, and facility upgrades

ORNL neutron user meeting highlights novel research, DOE priorities, and facility upgrades

With the theme of “Neutron Sciences: Past, Present and Future,” the 2019 Neutron Scattering User Meeting was held June 4-5 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Attended by more than 250 members of the global neutron research community, the meeting featured presentations on the latest neutron research techniques and accomplishments by staff and users at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR).

The event’s opening keynote remarks were delivered by Harriet Kung, associate director of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) in the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Kung highlighted DOE/BES program priorities and potential new funding opportunities for fiscal year 2020, including specific emphasis on quantum information sciences, microelectronics, computational materials, and chemical sciences.

The event was organized by ORNL’s SNS-HFIR User Group (SHUG) Executive Committee, which is responsible for operating and improving the user program for both of the laboratory’s neutron scattering facilities.

2019 NScD User Meeting

Eugenia Kharlampieva, an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, opened the second day of the meeting with a keynote presentation on using neutrons to probe soft matter. “As a former member of the SHUG Executive Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to watch first-hand over the years how the organization has expanded and improved its support for neutron users at ORNL. This is SHUG’s best-attended neutron user meeting, which attests not only to the committee’s planning and promotional efforts but also to the growing recognition of the value of neutron scattering among the national and international scientific community,” said Kharlampieva.

Other activities included a town hall meeting, proposal planning session, facilities tour, discussion groups, poster sessions, an early career panel, an awards ceremony, and plenary sessions ranging from keynote addresses to panel discussions. Workshops and tutorials on neutron scattering were held the day before and after the meeting.

“I welcomed SHUG’s invitation to attend and speak at this meeting because I believe it’s important to support the neutron user community,” said John Tranquada, neutron scattering group leader at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Tranquada delivered a keynote address on neutron scattering from cuprate superconductors. “These events can be useful for every neutron scientist, but they are especially valuable for researchers who want to learn new experimental techniques, network, promote their research, and perhaps identify employment opportunities.”

Facility developments

Presentations about facility developments included panels on HFIR and SNS facility upgrades, current and planned beamlines, and the planned Second Target Station. Discussions focused primarily on the following projects:

  • First Target Station. Construction continues on VENUS, an advanced neutron imaging instrument. VENUS is on track to be completed in 2022 and ready for users by 2023.
  • Proton Power Upgrade. The PPU will double linac beam power to 2.8 MW to enable improved performance at the SNS First Target Station and power the planned SNS Second Target Station.
  • Second Target Station. ORNL is developing a conceptual design for a Second Target Station at SNS to address emerging science challenges. “With cutting-edge instrumentation and optics, STS could deliver an order of magnitude or larger gains in performance for a class of instruments when compared to existing instruments at FTS.
  • HFIR Beryllium Reflector. Plans include replacing the beryllium reflector at HFIR, in or around 2023, to extend the lifetime of the reactor’s neutron scattering program.

Beamline scientist awards

The SHUG Beamline Scientist Award of Excellence recognizes beamline scientists who make significant contributions in their areas of research or instrumentation development and who participate in the growth and enrichment of the user community. The winners for 2019 were

  • SNS Instrument Scientist. Doug Abernathy, Wide Angular-Range Chopper Spectrometer
  • HFIR Instrument Scientist. Huibo Cao, Four-Circle Diffractometer

Student poster competition awards

Poster competition awards

Both undergraduate and graduate students were invited to present their posters in a student poster competition that represented the wide range of interests and expertise across the SNS and HFIR user community. The winners for 2019 were selected from a strong group of 40 posters.

  • Gold Winner: Xiaojian Bai, Georgia Institute of Technology, Mosaic of Frustrated Magnets
  • Silver Winner: James Torres, University of Missouri, Neutron Scattering and Microscopy Studies of Water Near Hydrophilic CuO Nanostructures
  • Bronze Winner: Miaosheng Wang, University of Tennessee, Photoexcitation Tunable Magnetization at Hybrid Perovskite/ Ferromagnet Interface

“This was the first ORNL neutron user meeting I’ve attended, though in 2017 I spent a week here while attending NXS, the annual National School on Neutron and X-Ray Scattering,” said Tyson Lanigan-Atkins, a materials science PhD student at Duke University. “Both events have helped advance my knowledge of neutron scattering and will continue to benefit my research, now that I am regularly incorporating neutron experiments at ORNL into my work on thermoelectric and solar materials.”

Additional plenary session remarks were delivered by Efrain Rodriquez, from the University of Maryland, and by Brent Heuser, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “This meeting enabled me to meet with colleagues to exchange ideas, while also providing the opportunity to present my research to potential collaborators,” said Heuser, professor and associate head for undergraduate programs, Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at U of I. “I will definitely plan on returning for the next neutron user meeting,”

2019 NScD User Meeting

Watch for details about the 2021 user meeting

ORNL’s next Neutron Scattering User Meeting is currently planned for 2021.

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