Because of their lack of charge, neutrons have a superior ability to penetrate materials. Researchers can determine a material's molecular structure by analyzing the way the neutrons scatter after striking atoms within a target material. SNS will direct the spalled neutrons to a host of state-of-the-art instruments.
The SNS will become the world's leading research facility for study of the structure and dynamics of materials using neutrons. It will operate as a user facility that will enable researchers from the United States and abroad to study the science of materials that forms the basis for new technologies in telecommunications, manufacturing, transportation, information technology, biotechnology and health.
SNS will increase the number of neutrons available to researchers nearly tenfold, providing clearer images of molecular structures. Together, ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor and SNS will represent the world's foremost facilities for neutron scattering, a technique pioneered at ORNL shortly after World War II.
Five Department of Energy Office of Science laboratories--Argonne, Berkeley, Brookhaven, Jefferson and Los Alamos--participated with Oak Ridge in the design of the SNS project. The $1.4 billion project has been constructed on time and on budget with a safety record of 4.2 million hours without a lost workday injury.