Acta Crystallographica Section A

Foundations of Crystallography

Volume 69, Part 1 (January 2013)

Bragg centennial

Acta Cryst. (2013). A69, 37-44    [ doi:10.1107/S0108767312036021 ]

The early development of neutron diffraction: science in the wings of the Manhattan Project

T. E. Mason, T. J. Gawne, S. E. Nagler, M. B. Nestor and J. M. Carpenter

Abstract: Although neutron diffraction was first observed using radioactive decay sources shortly after the discovery of the neutron, it was only with the availability of higher intensity neutron beams from the first nuclear reactors, constructed as part of the Manhattan Project, that systematic investigation of Bragg scattering became possible. Remarkably, at a time when the war effort was singularly focused on the development of the atomic bomb, groups working at Oak Ridge and Chicago carried out key measurements and recognized the future utility of neutron diffraction quite independent of its contributions to the measurement of nuclear cross sections. Ernest O. Wollan, Lyle B. Borst and Walter H. Zinn were all able to observe neutron diffraction in 1944 using the X-10 graphite reactor and the CP-3 heavy water reactor. Subsequent work by Wollan and Clifford G. Shull, who joined Wollan's group at Oak Ridge in 1946, laid the foundations for widespread application of neutron diffraction as an important research tool.

Keywords: neutron diffraction; Manhattan Project.

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[ doi:10.1107/S0108767312036021/wl5168sup1.pptx ]
Presentation by Thom Mason at the Bragg Centennial Symposium, Adelaide, 6 December 2012

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[ doi:10.1107/S0108767312036021/wl5168sup2.pdf ]
Presentation by Thom Mason at the Bragg Centennial Symposium, Adelaide, 6 December 2012


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