Interview with Dr. Margarita Russina: Explore with high intensity (Part 2)
The first user experiment is coming up soon and the scientists are curious about the results. Before that, Dr. Margarita Russina took the time to speak about the NEAT project and its correlated research.
The scientists in your team, like Gerrit Günther and Veronika Grzimek, are researching very different materials and effects. What experiment is your favorite one and what comes first?
We are looking for the confinement of liquids and gases, which is important for energy storage materials. If you look at the gas storage, it will either be hydrogen storage or methane. For the liquid storage, there are a lot of materials important for the electrochemical storage. With NEAT, we can observe the mass transport processes if you confine for example hydrogen into these porous materials. We have already had a number of interesting results because we prepared our study for the new NEAT. But I am sure we will get even more if we start our research with NEAT.
Do you already have some materials in mind?
An example can be metal organic frameworks and porous carbon materials. Porous carbon is used everywhere, in particular for new electrochemical storage devices or catalysis. If you can confine the gas into the pore, you can obtain faster or even arrested diffusion, so the molecules or ions are not moving at all. There are several factors which have an impact on these processes which are important for various types of applications. Sometimes you need a completely structural arrest and another time you need a stronger fluidity of the liquids or gases. We can help to establish the exact mechanism how the confinement influence the transport properties.
Scanning electron microscope image of the seed inside a MOF crystal. By CSIRO, CC BY 3.0
How does NEAT help you out with your research?
One benefit is the high intensity of neutrons. That means that we get a better signal which allows an improved characterization of processes like the diffusion. Now we can establish the signals which were too small in the past. We also hope that our choppers will run better in the future. Right now, we proceed with the same resolution as of the old NEAT. But if the choppers were optimized, the resolution would be even higher than it was before and would allow us to detect processes we were previously not able to detect because of the resolution. We will receive the update for the chopper system in 2017. But right now, we can see already a lot with the high intensity.
Where do the first external users come from?
We have the first external users coming from universities of Germany such as Kiel or Dresden and Europe like Estonia or France. We also have users from China. The first user experiment is planned for January 2017.
Could NEAT II, regarding its unique features, be a prototype for instruments at other neutron sources like the ESS?
I already received a number of telephone calls asking about the detailed design of this or that. It is the same procedure that we did when we started. So, there are several requests from colleagues who want to know more about the NEAT upgrade and want to apply it in their own project.