HFIR ready for neutron school

hfirornlThe High Flux Isotope Reactor has resumed normal operations following last weekend’s disruption and should be ready for dozens of students who will use the facility next week as part the annual National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering.

Paul Langan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s associate lab director for neutron sciences, said about 60 graduate students from around the United States are participating in the two-week school, where they get firsthand experience at research facilities at ORNL and Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago.

The students are at Argonne this week to learn about the Advanced Photon Source and will be at Oak Ridge next week. Langan said it’s important to have both of ORNL’s neutron sources — the other being the accelerator-based Spallation Neutron Source — up and running at the time.

The school targets students in physical sciences to study the theory of neutron and X-ray scattering experiments, as well as get some hands-on experience.

“The hands-on part is to familiarize themselves with the big facilities — how to access them, how to interact with the instrument scientists,” Langan said.

Scientists use neutrons and X-rays in controlled experiments to explore the structure and behavior of materials, sometimes leading to a better understanding of their potential uses or the engineering of new materials.

The Department of Energy has invested billions of dollars in world-leading research facilities at its national labs, and many of them — including the High Flux Isotope Reactor and SNS at Oak Ridge — are available to scientists from around the globe.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.