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Small-angle neutron scattering instruments can be built to use either steady-state or time-of-flight techniques, although only the latter are practical at pulsed neutron sources. The techniques used to provide beams of suitable quality, wavelength range and angular collimation are considered in detail for steady-state and time-of-flight instruments at reactor neutron sources, and for time-of-flight instruments at pulsed neutron sources. For both instrument types a cold neutron source provides a definite advantage. Most, but not all, steady-state instruments use long flight paths, which can be shown to provide conditions which are optimum in many ways. However, frame overlap considerations force the use of a short flight path for time-of-flight instruments, and this in turn forces these instruments to use different collimation and beam-quality techniques from those that are usually used for steady-state instruments. Although adequate techniques now exist for building short-flight-path small-angle neutron scattering instruments, some of these short-path techniques are still developing, and can be expected to improve in the future. At present the time-of-flight instruments are more difficult to build and use, but for many experiments this difficulty is more than compensated by the large wave-vector range covered in a single measurement with such instruments.
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