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Planning Your Experiment

The NIST Center for Neutron Research provides neutron research facilities for researchers from industry, university, and government agencies. These facilities are operated with many different modes of access. 30 major instruments are available either via a scientific proposal review program, collaborative research with a NCNR research scientist, or on a commercial basis for confidential R&D. There is no access charge for research whose results are freely available to the general public, however proprietary research can be performed under full cost recovery. A monetary assistance program is available to encourage first-time users to do measurements at our facility.

  1. Planning the experiment

    1. Choosing an instrument:

    2. Decide on any ancillary equipment such as temperature devices, magnetic equipment (See Sample Environment)
    3. Consider sample information (such as neutron attenuation, activationMaterials Safety Data Sheet information)
    4. Discussion with an instrument scientist is highly encouraged, especially if there are sample considerations (such as hazardous, toxic, or radioactive samples) or specialized equipment needs.
  2. Requesting beam time

  3. Security and Safety Access Requirements

    1. What to do before your arrival to the NCNR:
      1. Complete the Visitor Sign-In Process. This will lead you through the steps indicated below.
      2. Request radiation safety training. Some training modules have been placed on our website. Completing these in advance will expedite your access.
      3. Obtain a brief letter of identification from your home institution, often referred to as the "trustworthy" letter. A supervisor or colleague who can attest to your trustworthiness should sign this letter
      4. If you are a non-citizen, please bring proof of stay in the United States (example: IAP66, I94, I20, green card, etc). A tourist VISA is not acceptable. In addition a valid passport is required.
      5. If you are a returning user on the access list, you can request personal dosimetry
    2. What to do once you arrive at the NCNR:
      1. Undergo Health Physics Radiation Safety Training
      2. Complete a "Facility User Safety Awareness Checklist"
      3. Complete a Signed Facility User Agreement
      4. You will be assigned personal dosimetry
  4. Travel to NIST

    1. Monetary Assistance U. Maryland Outreach Program (for first-time users)
    2. Monetary assistance to support graduate students
    3. Transportation and lodging information
  5. After your experiment

    1. Accessing data
      1. inside NIST, using the NCNR visitor network 
      2. outside the NIST firewall, at (as specified in our Data Management Plan)
    2. Submitting an experimental report
    3. Publishing results (NIST acknowledgements, submitting summary or publication reference to the NCNR for the annual report)
    4. Getting your samples shipped back to you
  6. Resources for executing your experiment

Created April 19, 2017, Updated November 15, 2019