World’s leading neutron centre seeks Canadian Partnership

With Canada’s own neutron source closing in March 2018, representatives of other neutron sources have been reaching out to the Canadian research community.

Image: Helmut Schober (centre) at McMaster with Rob Baker, VP-Research (left) and Maikel Rheinstadter (right), a neutron user.

“We would welcome a Canadian partnership, because attracting strong communities facilitates our mission as the world’s flagship centre for neutron science,” says Helmut Schober, Director of the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), an international research centre based in France. “The Canadian research community has an excellent record of applying neutrons for materials research and innovation, and many Canadian companies are experienced in supplying nuclear facilities.”

Schober’s remarks came during a two-day visit (Sept 27-28) to McMaster University where he met representatives of the Canadian neutron user community, and received a tour of the McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR), which is building a small-angle neutron scattering beamline. He spoke of the MNR as a complementary facility, not in competition with ILL, because the neutron beam ecosystem needs both local and international facilities.

The ILL is the most intense neutron source in the world, and is operated through the participation of about a dozen European countries.

“We had a very informative discussion about what it would mean if Canada were to join the ILL as a scientific member country,” says Thad Harroun, President of the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering (CINS). “Joining ILL could be one of the outcomes of the Canadian Neutron Initiative. Multiple partnerships will be needed to sustain Canadian capability over the next decade.”

Representatives from other neutron sources have visited Canada for meetings with CINS in the last year, including from Oak Ridge National Lab (USA), the NIST Centre for Neutron Research (USA), and the European Spallation Source (under construction in Sweden).