CINS applauds the CFI award for the McMaster-led national project, “Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering”

The Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering (CINS) is thrilled for the neutron beam community to receive a $14.25 million Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Innovation Fund grant project called, Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering.

“Researchers who use neutron beams are contributing to many key areas of technological innovation that is important to Canadians – from reducing greenhouse emissions, fighting cancer and antibiotic resistance to auto parts manufacturing – just to name a few,” says Drew Marquardt, president of the Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering.

CINS along with the Canadian Neutron Initiative have helped coordinate this multi-institutional project by bringing together the Canadian neutron beam community.

“Projects of this scope cannot succeed without the entire community behind you,” says project lead Bruce Gaulin.  

“This grant breathes new life into the neutron scattering community in Canada. It will provide, not only, valuable material research tools but the ability to train the next generation of Canadian scientists ‘at home.’”

For a list of researchers across Canada willing to speak to reporters, contact Drew Marquardt at

About CINS
CINS is a not-for-profit, voluntary organization that represents the Canadian scientific community of neutron beam users and promotes research using neutron beams. Discover neutrons for materials research at:

For more information:

Drew Marquardt
Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Windsor

Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering Planning Workshop

The Canadian Institute for Neutron Scattering will be holding a virtual Planning Workshop March 4th at 2 pm ET.  This workshop will be a discussion among neutron researchers to continue to build alignment on a national roadmap and the next major funding applications. The workshop will build on the success of the CFI 2020 Innovation Fund application, “Building a Future for Canadian Neutron Scattering”, aiming to take the community to the next level.

Tentative Agenda:

  1. Daniel Banks – Neutrons Canada and the national neutron strategy: developing a detailed roadmap for rebuilding Canada’s neutron beam capabilities
  2. Drew Marquardt ­– A prototype CANS as the centrepiece for a national-proposal to the CFI 2023 Innovation Fund
  3. Bruce Gaulin – A proposal to the CFI 2023-2029 Major Science Initiatives Fund
  4. Open discussion about strategy for each of the above.

Registration for the Zoom meeting is open by clicking here.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Posted by / February 22, 2021 / Posted in Events

Inaugural Seminar

CINS is thrilled to announce the first set of seminars in our monthly seminar series. The February seminar will take place online Thursday February 25th at 3 pm Eastern Time. Our format will be two seminars 25 min. + 5 min for questions.

Dr. Zahra Yamani, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories
Fun with TAS: From Solid Superconducting Crystals to Liquid Heavy Water!
Dr. Dalini Maharaj, University of Windsor & TRIUMF
Conceptual design of a multipurpose CANS for Canada at the University of Windsor
Registration for the Zoom meeting is open by clicking here.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Posted by / February 13, 2021 / Posted in Events

“An Emerging National Neutron Strategy in Canada”

McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR)
McMaster Nuclear Reactor (MNR) (Photo by McMaster University)

On December 15 and 16, 2020, leading scientists from across Canada gathered virtually to shape this “national neutron strategy” at a round-table organized by the Canadian Neutron Initiative (CNI)and CIFAR, with support from the European Spallation Source and the Fedoruk Centre.

A brief news item can be found at:

Spinel structure high entropy oxide (CrMnFeCoNi)3O4

Neutrons Clarify Convoluted Magnetic Materials

CINS Scattering Spotlight: Graham Johnstone

Source: Mitchell DiPasquale
Image: Spinel structure high entropy oxide (CrMnFeCoNi)3O4.

Everyone is waiting for the next big technological leap. As devices grow in complexity, the limits of materials and hardware are pushed toward their energetic and physical limits. Materials researchers across the globe redesign and tweak hardware to extend capabilities, but before too long these roadblocks will be unavoidable.

A technological revolution demands revolutionary hardware, and a new class of materials called high entropy oxides (HEOs) may have the necessary exotic electromagnetic properties to reinvigorate the field.

Graham Johnstone

Graham Johnstone, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute, University of British Columbia

HEOs are crystalline materials with ordered oxygen and a mixture of randomly positioned metal ions. These unique materials possess intrinsic chemical disorder, lending fascinating properties that hold potential to develop technologies from reversible batteries to multiferroic components to make devices more efficient.

Graham Johnstone, a graduate student with Dr. Alannah Hallas at the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute of the University of British Columbia, is studying HEOs to define relationships between magnetism and chemical disorder.

High Entropy Oxide materials provide us with a wellspring of elemental combinations through which we can explore the relationship between magnetism and intense chemical disorder.

Graham Johnstone, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute, University of British Columbia

Graham is using a spinel structure HEO with the composition (CrMnFeCoNi)3O4 to dig deeper into these complex magnetic behaviours. In bulk, this HEO material remarkably retains its ferrimagnetic properties above room temperature. Theory predicts intrinsically disordered crystals that are doped with non-magnetic metals to exhibit decreased magnetism; however, HEOs have proven to be a stark exception to the rule.

To further define the origins of this magnetic paradox, Graham will use neutron diffraction to probe the magnetic properties of the various crystallographic sites in the spinel structure HEO. Neutrons are uncharged and possess the property of spin, offering an essential tool to probe the arrangement of magnetic moments deep inside materials at the sublattice scale – a feat not accomplished by other techniques.

In addition to shedding light on the nature of HEO magnetism, neutrons will also help Graham distinguish the cause of thermal changes in magnetic susceptibility to further explain the complex and remarkable magnetic properties of HEOs.

CINS Scattering Spotlight aims to raise awareness for the world-class neutron research being conducted by students across Canada. We encourage you share your research stories by contacting

Serpintinite - Simone Pujatti

Neutrons Take Geology to New Scales

CINS Scattering Spotlight: Simone Pujatti

Source: Mitchell DiPasquale 
Image: (Left) Serpentinite Rock (Right) 3D Rendering of porous network in a serpentinite (scale = 500 nm).

We’re all familiar with how rainwater flows across the ground into streams and rivers after a heavy rainfall. But what happens to the water that soaks deep into the soil and rocks?

The reactions between water and rock control the chemical evolution of the Earth. Water seeping through the Earth’s crust changes the rock and influences global-scale processes such as plate tectonics. One of the most important of these reactions is serpentinization, which occurs when rocks from the Earth’s mantle, upwelling at mid-ocean ridge, interact with seawater. The resulting green and scaly serpentinites may have been the key to the origin of life.

Simone Pujatti, University of Calgary
PhD Student, Simone Pujatti, University of Calgary

Vast regions of oceanic mantle rock have almost completely been transformed into serpentinite, releasing hydrogen and methane that can be used as nutrients by early-Earth microorganisms. The process of how water has been able to infiltrate deep into these highly impermeable rocks is still very much a mystery.

Conceptually, serpentinization deep into the mantle rock is fueled by a constant supply of water and solutes that creep through the porous network formed by the spaces between the solid particles of rock. In reality, theory predicts that the serpentinite formed in the reaction should clog the pores of the rock, sealing off the supply of reactants, and stopping the transformation. Unfortunately, to limitations of classic geological characterization techniques, researchers have yet to study the extremely small pore structure of serpentinites – ranging from tens to hundreds of nanometers.

Simone Pujatti, a PhD student at the University of Calgary, is employing a modern solution to research the feedbacks between serpentinization and porosity to explain how this reaction has taken over the Earth’s mantle.

Using a combination of small and ultra-small angle neutron scattering, Simone will capture and quantify the whole distribution of pore sizes in various mantle rocks drilled from under the Atlantic Ocean. Each sample is meticulously chosen to reveal the evolution of the pore network as serpentinization progresses.

“The evidence generated will elucidate the relationship between serpentinization extent, volume increase and changes in porosity. This will impact our understanding of systems both at the molecular level, as the pores can be inhabited by microorganisms, and at the regional scale since porosity changes drive serpentinization reactions through the oceanic crust.”

Simone Pujatti, University of Calgary

Neutrons provide a non-destructive technique to study the nano-scale porosity of materials, including rocks, under the high temperatures and pressures in which they naturally form. The broad microstructural range quantifiable by combining multiple neutron scattering techniques offers a unique tool to modern geoscientists, and Simone hopes it will provide the evidence necessary to resolve a century-old issue about solid volume increase during serpentinization.

CINS Scattering Spotlight aims to raise awareness for the world-class neutron research being conducted by students across Canada. We encourage you to share your research stories by contacting

Thank you!

63 Canadian researchers responded to our survey of how they are able to meet their research needs with neutron beams. We’re tabulating the responses to see how things are in the two years since the closure of the CNBC.

Nickel hydride catalyst

Neutrons Uncover Clues for Better Catalysts

CINS Scattering Spotlight: Dr. Manar Shoshani

Source: Mitchell DiPasquale 
Image: A) 1.5 mm3 single crystalline nickel-hydride for neutron diffraction. B) Neutron diffraction-solved structure. C) ChemDraw depiction of cluster.

From cleaning the toxic exhausts of your car’s engine, to the green promise of plastic upcycling, to the biological processes that keep you alive – achieving efficient results in chemical changes is driven by catalysts.

The ability of nature to selectively carry out multi-electron chemistry under ambient conditions has long inspired catalytic design.  Innovation in synthetic catalysts can unlock novel reactions and allow cheaper, cleaner, and more efficient pathways to new and improved materials.

Dr. Manar Shoshani
Dr. Manar Shoshani

Former UWindsor PhD student Manar Shoshani took inspiration from multi-metallic enzyme active sites to try to emulate this robust reactivity in homogenous transition metal clusters. Under the guidance of Dr. Samuel A. Johnson, Manar sought to understand how the multi-metal centres interact to promote catalysis, with hopes of providing a trajectory toward intelligent design of better catalysts. 

With molecular nickel-hydride clusters, Manar observed remarkable activations of C–C, C–O, and C–S bonds as well as catalytic activation of C–H bonds, all of which proceeded rapidly at room temperature. Knowledge on the solid-state structure of the complex is vital to decipher the mechanistic intricacies that drive these processes.

“Determining the unambiguous solid-state structure of these complexes is imperative to understanding both the properties of the cluster, as well as the potential for these clusters to serve as catalysts.”

– Dr. Manar Shoshani, Caltech Post-Doctoral Fellow

Synthetic chemists naturally lean on X-ray crystallography for structural information; however, light atoms (particularly hydrogen), coordinated in these complexes are largely invisible to studies by X-ray. For Manar, neutron diffraction served as the ideal complement to be able to pinpoint the hydride locations in the cluster, and to clue into the details of metal-metal cooperativity.

A step further, as neutrons interact with hydrogen and deuterium differently, the experiment also provided insight into the catalytic hydrogen-deuterium exchange activity of the clusters. Neutrons offer an exceptional means to uncover the finesse of transition metal hydride catalysts. A deeper understanding of metal-metal cooperativity can help usher in a new wave of efficiency with rationally designed catalysts.

After completing his PhD, Dr. Shoshani continues to contribute to catalyst innovation as a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology.

For more information on this work, the published manuscript can be found at Shoshani, Manar M., Robert Beck, Xiaoping Wang, Matthew J. McLaughlin, and Samuel A. Johnson. Inorganic Chemistry 57, 5 (2017): 2438-2446.

CINS Scattering Spotlight aims to raise awareness for the world-class neutron research being conducted by students across Canada. We encourage you to share your research stories by contacting