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Research Topics

Shull Wollan Center research is organized around seven programmatic themes. UT and ORNL scientists collaborate on a broad range of research projects within these themes.

Biological Physics
Diffraction, small-angle scattering, and reflectometry are ideal methods for studying structure and organization from the atomic to the micron length scales, and neutron spectroscopic methods characterize self and collective motions from picosecond to microsecond timescales. These techniques are applicable to the length and time scales intrinsic to soft matter and biological systems but, unlike most other methods, are uniquely sensitive to hydrogen, an atom abundantly present in biological and soft condensed materials.
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High Pressure Science
The application of extreme conditions such as pressure is a uniquely powerful tool to alter and control matter on an atomic level. It enables unique new material synthesis pathways for exotic new states of matter far from equilibrium, can yield the emergence of novel functional states under pressure or allow for insight into extreme conditions that exist inside planetary cores.
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Materials Science/Disorder
Neutron scattering is one of the principal experimental tools in condensed matter physics. It provides unique information about the way atoms and spins are arranged and move in solids and liquids. For functional materials, such as magnets, ferroelectrics, thermoelectrics and superconductors, neutron scattering can help elucidate the origins of these fascinating properties.
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Neutrino Studies
Neutrinos are notoriously difficult to detect. Usually neutrino detectors are massive on a scale from tons to kilotons. However, due to their ability to penetrate vast amount of material without interactions, they can be used as probes of processes which are inaccessible by any other means.
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Neutron Physics
The neutron itself is an excellent laboratory in which search for an explanation for the lack of antimatter in the universe, insight into the particle nature of dark matter, and development of a more complete understanding of the laws and symmetries of nature.
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Quantum Materials, AI & Machine Learning
A vast array of the technologies upon which we rely are a result of the quantum mechanical behavior of materials. Magnetic memories, superconductors, strong magnets for electrical motors, and magnetic sensors exist because of the quantum mechanical nature of electrons in solids.
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Industrial Applications
Neutrons play a definitive role in our understanding of the material world. They allow scientists to look inside the structure of matter, showing where atoms are and what atoms do. The unique capabilities of neutron scattering techniques have already attracted the attention of industrial and applied scientists.
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