LENS Initiative Newsletter - Dec 2023, Issue 8

This year, we celebrated the 5th anniversary of the signing of the LENS Charter, which launched a joint initiative to strengthen neutron and muon science in Europe.

In September, a meeting held at ESS in Lund brought together over 40 representatives from LENS and collaborators to celebrate our achievements and discuss the future direction of LENS. The valuable input and insights shared during the meeting will guide us as we look ahead to the new year.

On 12 September, we marked 5 years since the LENS Charter was signed.

Through the LENS: foreword by Michel Kenzelmann

Head of the Laboratory for Neutron Scattering and Imaging at PSI

In September of this year, LENS celebrated its 5th anniversary, marking a significant milestone since the charter was signed in Vienna in 2018. The celebratory event, held in Lund, provided an opportunity for reflection on the accomplishments of the past 5 years.

These include the publication of the European neutron landscape analysis, the establishment of an effective and professional LENS communications office, and participation in several EU-funded programs. Additionally, Working Groups generated a wealth of ideas for collaborative European projects in neutron instrumentation, sample environment, and software development, thereby strengthening the networks between scientists at different European facilities.

The challenges for neutron science in Europe have become more pronounced in the last 5 years with the closure of the LLB, HZB and IFE neutron facilities. The remaining national sources, heavily used by an international community, predominantly rely on national funding. Notably, the funding by the European Commission for European neutron sources remains disproportionately small, reflecting its predominant focus on financing services at large facilities and strategically important R&D programs.

During the LENS anniversary gathering, lively discussions unfolded regarding LENS priorities for the future. Personally, I envision several areas where LENS could facilitate closer collaboration among European facilities, yielding significant benefits:

Firstly, neutron science in Europe stands to benefit significantly by harnessing its extensive neutron expertise through collaborative efforts spanning across Europe, aiming for more efficient and cost-effective access. This may necessitate initial investments to enhance inter-facility collaborations. Secondly, LENS members stand to gain from a comprehensive assessment of optimal utilisation of available neutrons at operational sources, considering different scenarios for a total pan-European neutron budget. Thirdly, I anticipate a heightened emphasis from funders on understanding the societal impact of neutron sources in education, science, and the broader economy. LENS could benefit from conducting a thorough impact analysis of the European landscape, highlighting its many benefits for society. Lastly, exploring innovative approaches to attract industry to large facilities warrants continuing consideration, including cost reduction measures and revamped access and support programs tailored to the needs of innovative small-medium enterprises.

Find out about Michel's career in Meet the People

Science Highlight

Better batteries for electric cars
PSI researchers are using neutrons to make changes in battery electrolytes visible. The analysis enables better understanding of the physical and chemical processes and could aid in development of batteries with better characteristics.


Science Highlight

Hydrogels could turn the tide in the treatment of HIV
A new drug delivery technology, studied SANS facilities at ISIS and ILL, could significantly improve HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention.


Recent News

LENS Council members convene in Budapest

On 13 - 14 November, LENS Council met in Budapest for important discussions on the sustainability of the European neutron ecosystem and to demonstrate their support for ongoing neutron infrastructure development in Hungary.

Key milestone for BNC

On 15 December, the Budapest Research Reactor was granted a new 10-year operating licence. The licence will enable the restart of operations early next year, and is an important step towards a future modernisation programme at BNC.

50 years of UK@ILL

On 29 November, a half-day event was organised to celebrate 50 years since the UK joined France and Germany as equal partners (Associates) at the ILL.

Neutrons from Garching again as of summer 2024

Currently, the FRM II is in the process of installing a new central channel. The work is progressing, and there are plans to resume providing neutrons for research from the second half of 2024.

Christian Pfleiderer new scientific director of the FRM II and MLZ

Physicist Prof Christian Pfleiderer from the School of Natural Sciences at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) will take over from Prof Peter Müller-Buschbaum on 1 January 2024.

ISIS kicks off its 40th-anniversary celebrations

On 16 December 2024, ISIS will mark 40 years since first neutrons. Leading up to this milestone, ISIS is organising events and activities to celebrate four decades of scientific discoveries, technological innovation and productive partnerships.


Astrid Schneidewind appointed as new ENSA chair

Astrid Schneidewind is the newly elected chairperson of the European Neutron Scattering Association (ENSA), representing the collective interests of European users in strategic discussions with neutron sources and policymakers.

ILL and FZJ: Enhanced co-operation in neutron research

A new agreement between ILL and FZJ will provide a valuable basis for further boosting neutron research in Europe.

JCNS Workshop 2023

Every year JCNS organizes a workshop at the Evangelische Akademie in Tutzing, Germany, to address different aspects of neutron scattering. This year, the focus was on future instrumentation at pulsed sources.

After the closure of several research reactors in Europe, pulsed neutron sources - and among them accelerator-driven, low-energy compact sources - are considered the next generation of neutron facilities. The workshop discussed the latest developments in the instrumentation for such sources, as well as the opportunities offered by numerical simulations and industrial applications. Reports on ongoing upgrades at ISIS and SNS, on progresses at the ESS, and on CANS projects in Europe complemented the presentations on instrumental developments. In addition, the satellite session on low-resolution lamellar diffraction requirements, organised by Christopher Garvey, enriched the workshop sessions with lively scientific discussions. The success of the JCNS Workshop is confirmed by the participation of experts from 10 different countries worldwide.

Stefano Pasini, JCNS

Amor at SINQ receives ESS MultiBlade detector

Since October, the neutron reflectometer Amor at SINQ (PSI) has been using the ESS MultiBlade, developed by the ESS detector group, to offer improved resolution, angular coverage, and dynamical range.
Find out more >>

SAM: the new small angle neutron scattering instrument of the LLB at the ILL

The construction of SAM (the new Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) instrument of the LLB at the ILL) started mid-June 2023 and is nearly completed. This instrument will sit on the new H15 guide, in between existing SANS D11 and D33.
Find out more >>

HBS Technical Design Report published

The High Brilliance neutron Source (HBS) project is developing a High-Current Accelerator-driven Neutron Source (HiCANS) as a next generation neutron source for the benefit of science and industry.

Successful experiments at Julich Neutron Platform

Within the framework of the HBS project the JULIC Neutron Platform (JNP) has been set up at the COSY facility in Julich. A main feature of the platform is the HBS target station prototype with a tantalum target operated with a 45 MeV proton beam with a maximum beam power of a few watts perfectly suited to perform experiments for the HBS project. The target station has eight extraction ducts allowing the extraction of neutron beams in the fast, epithermal, thermal and cold energy range from the moderator-reflector assembly.

After the first beam on target end of 2022, the JULIC Neutron Platform has been used in 2023 successfully for a number of different experiments and tests. Reflectometry and diffractometry measurements, fast and thermal neutron imaging, detector tests and moderator/reflector tests were performed from the HBS team and by external groups from ESS, hereon, TUM and CEA.

Due to the easy access and the low activation levels, the components at the target station can be easily modified. The HighNESS project benefitted from this and made first tests with different reflector materials like MgH2 and nanodiamonds using the cold methane moderator to enhance the extractable cold neutron flux. The used reflector materials showed potential in the first experiments.

Thomas Gutberlet, JCNS

The McStas project marks its 25th anniversary

In October 1998, Risø National Laboratory released version 1.0 of the McStas neutron ray-trace simulation package. Over 25 years, the project has grown into an international collaboration. Since 2012, it has been hosted at DTU Physics, fostering collaborations with the Niels Bohr Institute, ILL, PSI, and ESS.

Project updates

GNeuS programme opens its final call for postdocs

Global Neutron Scientists (GNeuS) is a structured post-doctoral research programme, training the next generation of neutron scientists through a strong interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach. A third and final call for 19 postdocs is open until 17 January 2024.

ReMade@ARI project

In September, the ReMade@ARI project hosted its 1st Annual Meeting in Copenhagen, with over 60 participants attending to celebrate the consortium’s achievements so far.

See the highlights >>

NEutrons and PHotons Elevating Worldwide Science (NEPHEWS)

Earlier this year, the NEPHEWS project, submitted jointly by LENS and LEAPS, together with the user organisations ENSA and ESUO, was accepted with a top rating. The EU project will deliver access to Europe’s neutron, synchrotron and free-electron laser research infrastructure, to promote curiosity-driven excellence in research.

Upcoming Events

Future Perspectives on Neutron Scattering, 17 January 2024, London (UK)

This meeting will bring together new and established users of neutron scattering facilities to discuss future opportunities in neutron scattering science.

ISIS Muon Training School 2024, 18-22 March 2024, Oxfordshire (UK)

This residential school offers participants the chance to attend lectures and workshops delivered by experienced researchers, and perform hands-on muon experiments at ISIS. 

Machine Learning Conference for X-Ray and Neutron-Based Experiments, 8-10 April 2024, Garching (DE)

The application of machine learning tools for data generated at photon and neutron large-scale facilities offers new opportunities and challenges. This conference will gather experts from the field of machine learning as well as specialists for the application of neutron and photon beams to discuss their latest research. 

Position Sensitive Neutron Detector Conference, 8-11 April 2024, Oxford (UK)

This conference focuses on a wide range of neutron detector technologies and their applications providing the ideal environment for scientists and engineers to share their latest achievements.  

ISIS@40 Science Roadshow: Belfast, 27 March 2024, Belfast (IE)

The first in a series of roadshows across the UK to celebrate 40 years of neutrons at ISIS. The programme will cover a diverse range of scientific interests and neutron techniques. 

MLZ Conference 2024: Neutrons for Energy Storage, 4-7 June 2024, Munich (DE)

A forum for researchers to enhance and adapt the potential of neutron scattering methods for the characterisation and development of materials and solutions for new generation energy storage. 

QENS/WINS 2024, 10-14 June 2024, Manchester (UK)

This conference will highlight recent advances in instrumentation and the scientific advances that the QENS technique has enabled, and enable discussion of emerging fields where QENS can make an impact. 

SXNS17: International Surface X-ray and Neutron Scattering Conference, 15-18 July 2024, Grenoble (FR)

This conference brings together researchers studying surfaces and interfaces in solids, liquids, biological, soft and hard condensed matter via neutron or X-ray (primarily using synchrotron sources) scattering techniques.

Meet the People

Michel Kenzelmann - Head of Laboratory for Neutron Scattering and Imaging at PSI

Michel Kenzelmann received a D.Phil. from Oxford University in 2001, working on topological quantum magnetism. He then went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University and NIST (USA) from 2001 to 2004. From 2004 to 2008, he held a professor fellowship of the Swiss National Science Foundation at ETH Zürich, working on a range of quantum materials such as quantum magnets, magnetically-induced ferroelectrics and magnetic superconductors. From 2008 to 2017, he led the Laboratory for Scientific Developments and Novel Materials at the Paul Scherrer Institut, overseeing the installation of several new beam lines at SINQ, the establishment of a neutron optics group, and an expansion of the solid-state chemistry program. Since 2017, he has been leading the Laboratory for Neutron Scattering and Imaging. In this role, he has been continuing the upgrade program of the neutron instrumentation at SINQ and has been expanding the use of SINQ by European partners. In 2014, he became a titular professor at the University of Basel, and in 2022, he became an affiliated professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

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