The NCNR has operated for more than 50 years and accounts for nearly half of the country’s neutron research. It has positively impacted many industries and scientific endeavors, ranging from vaccine research to plastics to quantum computers. Learn more about the value of the NCNR from its users below or check out our news feed of stories about NCNR research.
"For decades, NCNR has provided the user community with high-quality instrumentation, reliable beam time scheduling, and exceptional user support resulting in significant scientific advances, hundreds of published research articles, and education/training for a large body of scattering experts. Now, more than ever, the use of neutrons is key to solving existential problems including addressing the current pandemic and understanding how viruses interact with cell membranes. As you know, over the last few years my group has been utilizing unique neutron spectroscopy capabilities to gain a deeper understanding into poorly understood properties of model cell membranes (Chakraborty et al., PNAS 2020). These studies are particularly important because they provide unique access to spatial and temporal scales over which key biological functions such as protein-membrane interactions and viral budding occur. Importantly, these scales and corresponding membrane properties are difficult to access with other experimental methods. The continuation of NCNR operations is critical to our research and to the advancement of both fundamental science and therapeutic applications related to biomembranes and their role in health and disease."
— Rana Ashkar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Physics
Center for Soft Matter and Biological Physics
ICTAS Center for Engineered Health
Macromolecules Innovation Institute
"The NCNR is a premier neutron research facility in the U.S. used by engineers and scientists across the United States to study material properties. The staff scientists as well as the research conducted at the NCNR are highly respected. Our own experimental research heavily utilizes this facility as part of our research program. Whether it is training undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in advanced characterization techniques, answering fundamental questions about material properties, or developing new capabilities that benefit the scientific community, the NCNR is an integral component of our work. Ensuring the NCNR continues its excellent track record as a user facility is essential to the advancement of science in the U.S. and ensuring these important techniques are accessible to scientists and engineers for generations to come."
— Jeffrey J. Richards, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
"Neutron scattering plays a central role in the research that my colleagues and I at the University of Minnesota conduct exploring the structure and properties of polymer solutions, block copolymers, and polymer blends. Our work addresses a host of scientific and engineering topics related to plastics and elastomers, with an emphasis on finding solutions to the increasing problems posed by the accumulation of associated waste. Simultaneously, we are educating the next generation of research professionals who will emerge as leaders in industry and academia."
— Frank S. Bates, Regents Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
University of Minnesota
"Our work has utilized NCNR facilities to characterize the structure and the dynamics of plastics when they have nano fillers added to them. Our work, which is in collaboration with NCNR scientists, has important implications for making better rubber tires, for reducing plastic waste and for the separation and sequestration of carbon-based exhausts — all of these areas strongly impact the development of sustainable, green technologies critical to positively impact the human condition."
— Sanat K. Kumar, Bykhovsky Professor of Chemical Engineering, Columbia University
"Neutron decay: A neutron is stable when confined to the nucleus of a stable atom, but unstable as a free particle. A free neutron decays to a proton, electron and antineutrio with a lifetime of about 15 minutes. The weak nuclear force, one of four fundamental forces in nature, is responsible for neutron decay. Intense beams of cold neutrons provided by the NCNR enable high precision measurements of neutron decay observables that continue to bring important advances in our fundamental understanding of the weak force, and elucidate the important role of neutron decay in the synthesis of primordial atomic elements in the first minutes after the Big Bang.
"Neutron interferometry: Due to the wave-particle duality of quantum mechanics, a cold neutron interacts with matter as a wave that can be refracted and diffracted in a similar manner as light and X-rays. The NCNR operates the world's most sensitive neutron interferometer. This instrument splits the quantum wave of a single neutron into two paths separated by several centimeters. A sample placed in one path creates an interference pattern when the neutron wave is recombined and detected. This enables measurements of the basic properties of neutron interactions with matter to unprecedented precision as well as groundbreaking tests of fundamental quantum phenomena."
— Fred E. Wietfeldt, Professor and Chair, Department of Physics and Engineering Physics