New neutron holography technique opens a window for obtaining clear 3-D atomic images

August 28, 2017

Nagoya, Japan - People usually associate holograms with futuristic 3D display technologies, but in reality, holographic technologies are now being used to help study materials at the atomic level. X-rays, a high energy form of light, are often used to study atomic structure. However, X-rays are only sensitive to the number of electrons associated with an atom. This limits the use of X-rays for studying materials made up of lighter elements. Neutron measurements can often fill in the gaps in structures when X-ray measurements fail, but neutron beams are harder to make and have lower intensities than X-ray beams, which limits their versatility.

Now, a collaboration among Japanese researchers working at national particle accelerator facilities across Japan has developed a new multiple-wavelength neutron holography technique that can give insights into previously unknown structures. They demonstrated a new neutron holographic method using a Eu-doped CaF2 single crystal and obtained clear three-dimensional atomic images around trivalent Eu substituted divalent Ca, revealing never-before-seen intensity features of the local structure that allows it to maintain charge neutrality.

"We knew that neutron holography might be able to tell us more about the structure of a europium-doped calcium fluoride crystal," says lead author Kouichi Hayashi. "Europium ions add extra positive charge to the crystal structure, and our neutron holograms showed how fluorine atoms arranged in the lattice to balance this excess charge. These kinds of structural problems are often encountered by materials scientists developing new electronic materials, and our method offers an exciting new tool for these researchers."

The new holographic method works by firing neutrons with controlled speed at a sample, which in this case is the europium-doped calcium fluoride crystals. Neutrons are normally thought of as particles, but also have wave-like properties similar to light, depending on their speed. When the neutrons hit europium atoms, gamma rays are produced in a pattern controlled by the local structure. The gamma ray patterns, or holograms, measured from neutrons travelling at different speeds are combined to produce a three-dimensional representation of the europium atoms in the crystal.

Hayashi says, "Neutron sources are less intense than X-ray sources, but it is essential that we work around this issue to develop more effective methods for exploring structures with light elements. Our work here represents a step towards a full toolbox of commentary X-ray and neutron techniques for materials research."
-end-


Nagoya Institute of Technology

Related Neutrons Articles from Brightsurf:

No matter the size of a nuclear party, some protons and neutrons will pair up and dance
No matter the size of a nuclear party, certain protons and neutrons will always pair up and dance, a new MIT study finds.

Neutrons chart atomic map of COVID-19's viral replication mechanism
To better understand how the novel coronavirus behaves and how it can be stopped, scientists have completed a three-dimensional map that reveals the location of every atom in an enzyme molecule critical to SARS-CoV-2 reproduction.

Perovskite materials: Neutrons show twinning in halide perovskites
Solar cells based on hybrid halide perovskites achieve high efficiencies.

Scientists achieve higher precision weak force measurement between protons, neutrons
Through a one-of-a-kind experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, nuclear physicists have precisely measured the weak interaction between protons and neutrons.

Story tips: Pandemic impact, root studies, neutrons confirm, lab on a crystal & modeling fusion
ORNL Story Tips: Pandemic impact, root studies, neutrons confirm, lab on a crystal and modeling fusion.

Scientists carry out first space-based measurement of neutron lifetime
Scientists have found a way of measuring neutron lifetime from space for the first time -- a discovery that could teach us more about the early universe.

A single proton can make a heck of a difference
Scientists from the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science and collaborators have shown that knocking out a single proton from a fluorine nucleus -- transforming it into a neutron-rich isotope of oxygen -- can have a major effect on the state of the nucleus.

Researchers overcome the space between protons and neutrons to study heart of matter
Nuclear physicists have entered a new era for probing the strongest force in the universe at its very heart with a novel method of accessing the space between protons and neutrons in dense environments.

New neutron detector can fit in your pocket
Researchers at Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new material that opens doors for a new class of neutron detectors.

Neutrons optimize high efficiency catalyst for greener approach to biofuel synthesis
Researchers led by the University of Manchester used neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the development of a catalyst that converts biomass into liquid fuel with remarkably high efficiency and provides new possibilities for manufacturing renewable energy-related materials.

Read More: Neutrons News and Neutrons Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.