What are neutrons and muons ?

Neutrons and muons are subatomic particles that we fire at solids and liquids so that we can learn where the atoms are and how they are moving, and also discover their magnetic properties. This information is extremely important if we are to understand and design materials of almost every description, from computer memory to spider’s silk. The experiments conducted at our neutron and muon sources cover the full range, from those whose results can be applied immediately to solve practical problems to those that are driven purely by our curiosity to understand fundamental phenomena.

UK scientists have access to some of the best neutron and muon facilities in the world. The ISIS Facility is located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and now includes the recently constructed Second Target Station. The Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) is located in Grenoble, and provides facilities that are complementary to those at ISIS.

If you are interested in the science and background to neutron and muon scattering then you can follow the links below. Perhaps the best place to start is the press release for the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physics, which was awarded to Shull & Brockhouse for their pioneering contributions to the development of neutron scattering techniques.  In addition to the background and history of the subject, the release also refers to the capabilities of ISIS and ILL. You can follow that with a tour of the ISIS Second Target Station on the BBC Website.

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