One of the largest and most anticipated U.S. science construction projects of the past several decades has passed its most significant performance test. The Department of Energys Spallation Neutron Source, located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has generated its first neutrons.
Research conducted at the SNS will lay the groundwork for the next generation of materials research. Scientists believe that the greatly improved ability to understand the structure of materials could lead to a virtually limitless number of innovations, including stronger and lighter airplanes, a new generation of batteries and fuel cells, and time-released drugs that target a specific body organ.
Just after 2 p.m. Friday, a pulse of protons from the SNSs accelerator complex, traveling at nearly the speed of light, struck its mercury target. The protons "spalled" neutrons from the nuclei of mercury circulating inside the target. These first neutrons were recorded on equipment specially installed for the commissioning.
Bill Cabage | EurekAlert!
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