21 April 2012

Europe's First Neutron Source, European Spallation Source (ESS), To Be Operational By 2019

European Spallation Source
A device that emits neutrons is called a Neutron Source. There are different kinds of neutron sources from a small hand held radioactive source to large neutron research facilities operating research reactors and spallation sources.

The large facility neutron source such as the ones found in Oxfordshire, utilizes a low energy reaction coupled with a high-current, variable-pulse-width proton accelerator to produce either short or long neutron pulses.

Sweden to host a new neutron source

By 2019, Europe will have its first operational Neutron Source. Currently under development, its aim is to produce beams of neutrons that can penetrate into the heart of matter without damaging it and reveal its secrets.

The European Spallation Source (ESS) will be constructed starting next year, at the southern end of Sweden, in a town called Lund.

“The ESS is the result of an idea that began 20 years ago!” underlines Mats Lindroos, in charge of the ESS Accelerator Division. “Today, 17 European countries support the project, including Sweden, Denmark and Norway, who together account for 50% of the construction funding.”

The design of the neutron source is a collaboration of different nations that participated in the project. The facility also boasts of staff, technology, expertise, and skill from European research centres such as CERN. “CERN is participating in the development of the entire accelerator part,” explains Christine Darve, the engineer responsible for the cryomodule portion. “For the ESS target, which will be made of tungsten, we are cooperating above all with nuclear physics experts.”

Video: How A Neutron Source Makes Neutrons

The ESS is slated to initially operate at a power of 5 MW (megawatts) but is projected to reach higher power levels in the future. “Currently there are two main neutron sources in the world: the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) in the United States, with its negatively charged hydrogen ion beams operating at 1.4 MW, and Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex (J-PARC), with its proton beams operating at 1 MW,” explains Christine Darve. “ISIS (named after the principal goddess of ancient Egypt) in the UK also allows for measurements to be taken, but at lower energies.”

With their neutral charge, neutrons are an ideal tool for probing into the heart of matter and understanding its structure without changing it. “There is a wide field of application,” observes Christine Darve. “The possibilities offered by ESS are numerous and include medicine, the analysis of certain proteins, nanotechnology, the development of new materials, and archaeology, to understand how different objects are created.”

22 types of neutron beams, depending on the specific needs of the experiments, will be at the disposal of 6,000 potential users. As with ISOLDE and the other beam lines at CERN, beam time will be leased. “Cold neutron beams (with long wavelengths) and thermal neutron beams (with short and medium wavelengths) will be available to users,” says Christine Darve. “These users will be from both academic and industrial fields.”

A further advantage is that another advanced facility is currently under construction on the same site as the ESS: MAX IV, a high-luminosity synchrotron radiation source financed by Sweden. That should please the most demanding customers, giving them the possibility of submitting their materials to very advanced and complementary studies within a radius of just a few kilometres.


European Spallation Source (ESS)
Spallation Neutron Source
Japan Proton Accelerator Research Complex
Laue-Langevin Institute
Société française de neutronique
New Advance in Antimatter: CERN ALPHA Group Measures Antihydrogen
New Technique For Cooling Quantum Gases
CERN News: Solar Thermal Panels Made With CERN Technology
CERN UPDATE: ICARUS Experiment Indicate Neutrino Speed Consistent With Speed Of Light
Films Inspired By Science: 3rd CinéGlobe international film festival at CERN
ICTR-PHE Conference Uniting Physics, Biology, and Medicine To Take Place in Geneva
CERN Press Release: Higgs Particle Search Status Still Inconclusive
Multi-purpose Photonic Chip Developed for Quantum Computers
New Advancement in Quantum Computers: Researchers Generate Qubits From Electrons
Quantum Computers: Tomorrows Technology
New Use For Graphene Discovered: Distillation
Famous Scientists of the 21st Century
New and Cheaper Way To Produce Graphene Nanosheets Discovered In South Korea