Heloisa Nunes Bordallo

Niels Bohr Institutet
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6. december 2021
Neutron quantum beams reveal true nature of the physical world
Fra Niels Bohr Institutets Temadag 2021

During these 45 minutes, I will drive you through the wonders of neutron quantum beams.

Early experiments showed that Bohr’s original orbital model of the atom, pointed to the existence of a new charge neutral particle, that was later discovered by Chadwick and called the “neutron”.

Neutrons have unique quantum properties that make it possible to reveal the secrets of our physical world; from imaging the distribution of vaccine antigens within a carrier, to revealing the shapes of polymers on the molecular scale, to the precise arrangement of atoms in a crystal. One of this quantum properties, known as orbital angular momentum, refers to the twisting of a neutron as it travels forward, just like the earth travels forward around the sun. The other quantum property is the neutrons magnetic spin, and both properties combined create an ideal probe to investigating quantum phenomena in nature as well as reveal the nature of the physical world itself.

In this presentation we discuss the importance of neutron quantum beams for our understanding of the physical world. This might also have given you the feeling that neutrons are the ideal and most universal probe for condensed matter studies on an atomic scale. However, life is not always fair. To produce, build and use free neutron quantum beams is rather expensive, thus neutron factories centres are rare. Moreover, to manipulate the neutron’s quantum states we need sources that make a lot of neutrons. Fortunately, the future ahead of us is bright and this scenario is deemed to change still in this decade with the construction of the European Spallation Source in Lund, Sweden near Copenhagen.