Researchers at the Budapest Neutron Centre (BNC) perform basic and applied research to reveail the composition, structure, neutron activation, nuclear structure and radiation damage of a wide range of materials of our everyday life, using the neutron analytical, spectroscopic, and irradiation instrument suite installed at the Budapest Research Reactor (BRR).
The Research Infrastructure includes experimental stations that make use of the ten horizontal neutron beam-lines of the BRR, as well as the vertical irradiation channels located in the reactor core. A liquid hydrogen cold-neutron source, cooled with He, is inserted in one of the tangential channels, providing low-energy neutrons to seven measurement stations in the cold-neutron experimental hall via supermirror neutron guides. The other nine horizontal channels of BRR host six instruments, while several vertical irradiation channels are utilized for radiation damage studies and neutron activation analysis.
The measurement techniques can be classified according to the relevant spatial resolution. The macrostructure methods, e.g. the neutron/X-ray imaging, provides visual information about the structure on a 100 µm- 10 cm scale. The microstructure techniques are based on neutron scattering, and relevant to a resolution scale of typically 1000 - 0.1 nm. Neutron diffraction, small-angle scattering, and inelastic scattering give insight into the structure and dynamics of nanostructure, macromolecular or atomic scale objects. Further, non-destructive elemental analysis can be performed by prompt-gamma and instrumental neutron activation analysis. For all methods, static and dynamic (in-situ) measurements are possible, where the time scale is limited by the intensity of the neutron beam.
Neutrons can penetrate deep into the material, this makes them adequate to determine the representative macro- and micro-structure of bulky materials, complementing the surface-targeted X-ray-based or electron microscopic techniques. Due to their ½ spin, neutrons provide a scarce technique to probe magnetic properties of materials. Neutrons are also indispensable in the detection of hydrogen and light elements.
BNC offers free of charge, excellence-based research opportunity in multidisciplinary materials science using its neutron techniques. Scientists/users submitting outstanding research proposals relevant to priority topics of the national smart specialisation strategy, Horizon Europe, or other outstanding research fields are favoured to get beamtime, based on the assessment of an independent user selection panel. BNC provides several entry points through its user-access projects (BNC user access program, IPERON HS, ARIEL, GNeuS and CERIC-ERIC). The instrument scientists assist in the measurements, data evaluation and interpretation.
BNC allocates 70% of measurement time for external measurement proposals and research projects. 30% is devoted to methodical developments, tech-transfer and training. BNC aims to conduct world-class basic and applied research and to offer R&I and quality-assurance solutions, as well as measurement services to its industrial partners (on contract/commercial basis).
BNC researchers are also involved in the dissemination of research results, university education, PhD and spcilaisation training. They represent BNC and the Hungarian neutron community in domestic and international organizations.