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Last modified: Thursday, August 26, 2010

IU physics facility awarded $5 million for cooperative neutron research

Aug. 26, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The next generation of neutron research at Indiana University Bloomington has received a $5 million boost from the National Institute for Standards and Technology. A recently awarded NIST grant provides close to $1 million a year for five years to support cooperative research activities between the Low Energy Neutron Source (LENS) at IU Bloomington and NIST's National Center for Neutron Research, located in Gaithersburg, Md.

Cyclotron LENS

Chandra Romel, left, a staff engineer on the LENS project, and post-doctoral student Hu Cao are shown at the Small Angle Neutron Scatteriing Instrument, which in 2008 became one of the first operational components of the LENS.

Print-Quality Photo

LENS is housed at the IU Center for the Exploration of Energy and Matter in Bloomington. The newly funded agreement between LENS and NIST's NCNR builds on a previous three-year partnership between the two research groups.

"We are delighted that the productive partnership between IU and NIST will continue, thanks to this significant new award," said Sarita Soni, IU Bloomington's vice provost for research. "CEEM's physical sciences research is very exciting, and we look forward to future developments that will come from this collaboration." Both the LENS facility and CEEM are supported in part by IU Bloomington's Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

LENS is a neutron-scattering facility where the interaction of neutron beams with various materials allows scientists to learn about the arrangement of atoms in materials, the sizes and shapes of molecules such as proteins, and the properties of surfaces. NIST is a federal technology agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that advances measurement science, standards, and technology. The new grant will support the collaborative development of neutron instrumentation as well as new scientific techniques and applications.

"The LENS-NCNR cooperative agreement has many advantages," says Paul Sokol, a professor of physics and a member of CEEM, who is also special advisor in the physical sciences for the Office of the Vice Provost for Research. "It brings together the leading national facility and the leading university-based facility in the area of neutron-scattering. The joint partnership of IU and NCNR has attracted new faculty to the university and enabled research that would not have been possible otherwise."

Sokol noted that the new NIST grant will also be used to support LENS's mission of outreach, fostering instruction and training in neutron-scattering research across institutions.

"Neutron scattering plays an essential role in enhancing our knowledge of materials' structure, which is a key factor in determining the functionality of man-made and natural materials," Sokol said. "With NIST's support, we are developing the next generation of neutron scientists."

To speak with Soni or Sokol, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or