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ORNL seeks to add second target at Spallation Neutron Source

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory hopes to add a second target station at its Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) in the next 10 years in order to enhance capabilities of in-depth studies of the molecular structure of materials. (Earlier post.)

Spallation is a process in which fragments of materials (spall) are ejected from a body due to impact or stress. SNS produces neutrons with an accelerator-based system that delivers short (microsecond) proton pulses to a target system (mercury), where neutrons are produced at by the collision of high-energy protons with the Hg target. SNS provides the most intense, pulsed accelerator-based neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development.

Ken Herwig of Oak Ridge’s Neutron Sciences Directorate said the potentially billion dollar construction project of a second target station would open new opportunities in material science research.

“The second target station will emphasize the production of long wave neutrons. These are predominantly used for soft materials and complex materials and will address complexity as kind of a unifying science theme for that facility. In addition to things that we do study now, we will be able to do much better with an instrument optimized for them on the second target station. Often now we have to use multiple instruments to look at the same type of science problem or the same sample. To answer those questions, we’ll be able to do that on a single instrument at a single time.

—Ken Herwig

A recent workshop held for material science users highlighted all of the advantages of the second target station.

This is the chance for the community to weigh in collectively on both the science that we expect to do at the seconds target station, what they need to do that they can’t do now and then also to select their priority instruments. We will take eight to 10 of those and continue to develop those concepts as we head toward a conceptual design report for the second target station.

—Ken Herwig


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