The Shull Wollan Center is home to scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds and research fields who utlize the neutron scattering facilites at ORNL to address compelling and forefront questions. Ongoing research programs cover fundamental physics, bio-membranes, proteins and polymers, topological quantum materials, and out of equilibrium and glassy behavior.
Shull Wollan Center research is organized around three programmatic themes; Biology & Soft Matter, Materials Science & Engineering, and Neutron Physics. UT and ORNL scientists collaborate on a broad range of research projects within these themes.
Diffraction, small-angle scattering, and reflectometry are ideal methods for studying structure and organization from the atomic to the micron length scales, and neutron spectroscopic methods characterize self and collective motions from picosecond to microsecond timescales. These techniques are applicable to the length and time scales intrinsic to soft matter and biological systems but, unlike most other methods, are uniquely sensitive to hydrogen, an atom abundantly present in biological and soft condensed materials.
Neutron scattering is one of the principal experimental tools in condensed matter physics. It provides unique information about the way atoms and spins are arranged and move in solids and liquids. For functional materials, such as magnets, ferroelectrics, thermoelectrics and superconductors, neutron scattering can help elucidate the origins of these fascinating properties.
Some of the most exciting novel materials that could lead to transformational technologies are those where useful macroscopic properties originate from explicitly quantum effects. Such materials have the potential to result in new, more energy efficient technologies for next generation electronic devices. Many of the most technologically interesting materials exhibit couplings of multiple degrees of freedom. Prime examples include multiferroic or spintronics systems based on metals, oxides, or organics which have a range of potential applications including magnetic field sensors, low power memory modules, high density storage devices, and quantum computing. These materials are important components of the infrastructure for energy technologies at all levels.
Neutron Physics is the study of the intrinsic properties of the neutron as well as the interaction of neutrons with very simple nuclei. The goal is to address important problems in nuclear physics, particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. Examples include such questions as the origin of breaking of fundamental symmetries such as parity and time reversal invariance, and the nature of the Weak Interaction between nucleons. The SNS, while designed as a neutron source, also produces the world's most intense pulsed source of neutrinos, which makes it ideal for neutrino studies.