McMaster celebrated the completion of the beam hall for the small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) instrument on Feb 9, 2018.
Image: Ribbon-cutting ceremony; left-to-right: Bruce Gaulin (Director of the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research), and Chris Heysel (Director of Nuclear Operations). (Credit: McMaster University)
SANS is used to study the properties of materials on a length-scale up to 100 nm, which is appropriate, for example, to probe magnetic domains for developing cancer-killing magnetic nanoparticles, and to learn about movements of proteins in cell-like environments. Steel processing companies have used SANS to characterize precipitates in their steel products as they develop steel products with enhanced strength and toughness, ultimately to ensure the long term reliability of pipelines and other steel structures. But until now, Canadians have had to go outside of Canada to use this technique.
Next up is assembling and installing the actual components of the instrument, which must be custom-made. Most of the components are being designed by the Canadian Neutron Beam Centre and will be fabricated by the National Research Council. One large component, the neutron detector, is being made in Hungary and will be shipped to McMaster in pieces by the end of the year.
The SANS beamline is expected to be finished in early 2019. The beam hall has space for a second neutron beamline to be added in the future.