Neutrons for materials research

L. Rosta, Massimo Rogante

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article


Neutron methods constitute an essential and unique part of the science tool kit for exploiting information about the properties and behaviour of matter at the atomic and molecular level - this indispensable in order to design novel materials, devices, drugs and solve complex engineering problems. Neutrons can probe structure and dynamics of matter from mesoscale to nanoscale and from seconds to nanoseconds. Intense neutron beams are produced in nuclear reactors or accelerator based neutron sources. In Europe 9 neutron source centres provide access to about 150 various neutron spectrometers for materials research. The Budapest Neutron Centre (BNC) is one of these 9 facilities, it operates 15 experimental stations. BNC is the research organisation for the open access utilisation in science and technology development for the 10 MW Budapest Research Reactor (BRR), a unique infrastructure of this kind in the Central European region. Industrial applications of neutron techniques, which offer unique possibilities for non-destructive testing of materials and structural components, have been pioneered by the BNC and by the Rogante Engineering Office (REO) in various industrial sectors. BNC makes part of the SINE2020 EU network/project to promote these applications. The interaction of neutrons with matter has three major ways: 1) Imaging by passing neutron beams through objects - this is called neutron radiography and tomography; this can reveal internal parts or hidden objects inside bulky materials. 2) Absorption of neutrons by nuclear reaction with atoms of studied materials - radiative capture via (n,?) reaction; this technique gives information on the elemental composition of objects. 3) Week interaction with atoms - changing in the trajectory and velocity of neutrons passing through solid or liquid materials - neutron scattering (elastic or inelastic); measuring intensity variation of scattered neutrons from the sample reveal information on microstructure. The uncharged neutron penetrates deeply in materials and with extreme sample environments and the combination of the techniques can provide complex information and insitu studies on engineering materials. The neutron experimental capabilities of BNC are presented and examples are given for lifetime management, quality assurance problems of materials, technology development for industry and unveiling secrets of archaeological objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalMechanical Technology and Structural Materials
Issue number55
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017
Event7th International Conference - Mechanical Technologies and Structural Materials, MTSM 2017 - Split, Croatia
Duration: Sep 21 2017Sep 22 2017


  • Cultural Heritage
  • Materials research
  • Neutrons
  • Non-destructive testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)

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