LENS Initiative Newsletter - October 2021, Issue 2

“Through the concerted effort of its members, and by developing synergies with the wider analytical research infrastructure landscape, LENS aims to achieve optimal exploitation of European neutron facilities to the benefit of the international scientific community.”

Welcome to the second LENS Initiative newsletter. If you are new to the community, or would like to find out more about the origins, structure and scope of LENS, read our recent publication in Neutron News.

LENS Working Groups

Through the LENS: foreword by Martin Müller

In June, Martin Müller, Scientific Director of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ), was elected Vice Chair of the LENS Initiative. In this foreword, Martin offers his outlook for LENS and neutron science in Europe.

This autumn, we seem to be getting closer to what used to be normality before the COVID situation. It actually feels quite strange (for a German) to be having dinner (in Denmark) in nice company at the occasion of a kick-off meeting of a European project for standardisation of industrial residual stress characterisation. Both synchrotron radiation and neutrons are involved but the neutron scientists manage to cluster at the long table to talk about the present situation of the European neutron landscape.

Obviously, the signing of the 6th protocol to extend the intergovernmental convention supporting the ILL is the first event that comes to our minds. The ILL, together with the national neutron sources, constitutes the profound basis for research with neutrons in Europe – and still provides the benchmark for the neutron world at the same time. We take it as a good sign that the outgoing ILL director, LENS founding chair Helmut Schober, moves to the ESS, the new neutron flagship on the horizon. 

In the relaxed and inspiring atmosphere at the Danish restaurant table we decide that the time is right for the LENS working groups to start working in “real life” again, where discussions of various topics start off much more naturally than between the stamp-sized Zoom tiles that we had to get used to in the past 1 ½ years. It is the perfect opportunity to build on the spirit of the NMI3 and SINE2020 collaborations between the European neutron facilities to further advance the infrastructure for neutron scientists.

Find out about Martin's career in neutron science in Meet the People

Neutron Science Highlight

"Electronic devices as thin as a sheet of paper... what was once science fiction is now moving within our grasp."
A team of scientists at JCNS, with colleagues from Germany, France and China, have discovered a new property in quantum materials, performing neutron scattering experiments at ILL and MLZ.

Muon Science Highlight

Quantum spin liquids (QSLs) are exotic phases of matter considered to hold great potential for quantum computing and communications, but they have proven difficult to characterise experimentally. Using muons, researchers have been able to identify different quantum spin liquid phases present at different temperatures in the same layered material.

News and Activities

Another ten years for the ILL

On 15 September, the governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom extended their support for the Institut Laue-Langevin for another ten years. The signature of the sixth protocol, just weeks after the ILL celebrated 50 years of neutrons, reflects Associate countries’ strong belief in the importance of neutron science, and recognises ILL’s continued efforts in the modernisation of its source and instruments.

The sixth protocol commits the support of Associate countries to reactor operation until the end of 2030, with possible extension to 2033, with any extension to be agreed upon by no later than the end of 2027. This long-term perspective provides the ILL with the security it needs to continue to deliver its ambitious scientific programme, initiated 50 years ago. Ongoing efforts to maintain and develop its source and instruments have ensured that ILL remains compliant with the latest safety standards, whilst continuously improving its performance and scientific attractiveness.

Scientists from across the world will be able to continue to use the very high flux of neutrons – which feed some 40 state-of-the-art instruments – for pioneering research in a variety of fields: condensed matter physics, chemistry, biology, nuclear physics and materials science, and more!

Find out more on the ILL website >>

GNeuS fellowship programme launched​

On 1 September, the Global Neutron Scientists (GNeuS) project was launched. Over five years, GNeuS will train a new generation of neutron scientists through a structured, interdisciplinary postdoctoral research programme, which will be delivered by MLZ partners with 19 hosting institutions worldwide.

Visit the website >>

Save the Date

The first call for applicants for the GNeuS fellowship programme opens on 1 Nov 2021

Guidelines for applicants >>

Scientists join forces to establish a new generation of data-handling infrastructure for photon and neutron research

The cooperation partners of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon and the Technical University of Munich), together with users and colleagues from photon sciences, initiated a project to develop new infrastructure for the sustainable use of research data from large-scale research facilities. DAPHNE4NFDI (DAta from PHoton and Neutron Experiments for NFDI) includes 18 institutions and has recently been awarded funding by the German National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI).

Find out more >>

First experiment performed on SHARP, following upgrade project by LLB​

On 3 September, the first official experiment on the instrument, SHARP, took place at ILL, with users investigating the dynamics of a sandwiched, multicomponent membrane for energy applications. SHARP is a collaborative research group instrument of LLB that can be used to study the dynamics and relaxation properties of condensed matter. The instrument is part of a longer-term project by LLB to upgrade the IN6 spectrometer, which will increase counting rate by a factor of 15. Image credit: ILL - Serge Claisse.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source Annual Review 2021  

The ISIS Annual Review 2021 is now online, highlighting the work of the facility over the past year, including international collaborations, award-winning research projects, and major engineering projects as part of the facility’s long shutdown.

Read the review >>

BNC Wednesday Webinars

Tune in every Wednesday for the BNC seminar series. Coming up on 20 October, Indu Dhiman (Centre for Energy Research, Budapest) will present "Evolution of magnetic structures and correlated transport behavior of perovskite manganites", including neutron diffraction studies.

No need to register - just connect at 14:00 CET using the link available at www.bnc.hu/news.

For updates on building progress and activities at the European Spallation Source,
follow ESS.neutron on Instagram

Project Proposals


The ‘Circular Economy’ (CE) emphasises the reuse and recycling of materials. To fully embrace CE in our daily lives, new materials need to be found – whether by improving battery recycling or plastic reprocessing, or by using more bio-based products. LENS, as part of the ARIE consortium, has submitted a proposal to an EU call that would enable European scientists to use neutron research infrastructure for CE materials development. Five LENS facilities will be contributing access to neutron or muon beamtime, alongside colleagues from photon, laser, electron microscope, ion beam, and high magnetic field facilities. If funded, the project will create a network of experts to give advice on characterisation techniques to CE-materials researchers from academia and industry, with 50,000 hours of facility access provided.


The DiTARI proposal brings together engineers and scientists from across Europe in order to create, develop and maintain Digital Twins for European Analytical Research Infrastructures (ARIs) and their users. The proposal, which was submitted to a Horizon Europe call, addresses the current challenge of European research communities to perform ever more complex and innovative experiments by improving the use of ARI facilities through the application of Digital Twin technologies.

DiTARI goes beyond state-of-the-art, integrating all relevant modules of an analytical instrument – from source to detector – with research community expertise. By employing the latest advanced digital technologies, it will allow real-time instrument simulation, and fast real-time data analysis and feedback. It will provide rigorous quantitative comparison of simulated and observational data, including all instrument- and sample-specific effects, to provide higher quality data. The project builds on an already high standard of digitalisation at the ARI instruments, but through the integration of these devices in a single platform, a completely new quality for the operators and researchers will be achieved.

The DiTARI project is coordinated by the EuXFEL with the following ARI partners: STFC, ESRF, ILL, DESY, PSI, ESS, FZJ, HZB, CNRS, ARMINES, KTH, TUM.

Meet the People

LENS Vice Chair - Martin Müller

Martin Müller started studying molecular reorientations in solids as a PhD student at Kiel University in 1992. Searching for a neutron time-of-flight spectrometer during the neutron drought caused by the long ILL shutdown, his studies of structure and dynamics took him to the former HMI (Berlin, Germany), to ISIS (UK), to the LLB (France) and finally to Grenoble (SILOE at CEA), experiencing the European network of national sources in a pre-LENS era. As a postdoc of the University of Vienna and longterm visitor at the ILL (1996) he eventually enjoyed many experiments at IN5, IN6 and IN10. He was then attracted by the big ring next door (ESRF, 1998) and the opportunities to work on cellulose and wood by using microfocused synchrotron radiation. As a so-called junior professor back in Kiel (2000) he pursued his research on structural biomaterials with a combination of neutrons and X-ray before moving to the former GKSS research centre (later HZG, now Hereon). As the director of the Hereon Institute of Materials Physics (since 2016) he is now responsible for the complementary Hereon instrument suite at PETRA III (DESY), FRM II and ESS, with a strong focus on engineering materials research. Since 2021, Martin Müller is a Scientific Director of the MLZ.

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