Graduate students at the University of Missouri will have the chance to learn more about neutron scattering, thanks to a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
MU physics professor Haskell Taub said researchers can use neutron scattering to study how atoms and molecules move within different materials. He said scientists used X-ray scanning to uncover the DNA structure, but neutron scattering goes a step further.
"It’s more sensitive to some atoms like hydrogen that may constitute part of the structure," Taub said. "Therefore neutron scattering can complement X-ray scattering in an important way."
The results can be used in many ways, like studying the structure of pharmaceutical drugs, learning how cement solidifies, and even building better magnets. Taub said the university’s research reactor provides students with instruments they wouldn’t find on other university campuses.
“They can be used to study the structure of powdered samples, of thin films, or what we call ‘single crystal samples,’ samples that are just one monolithic crystal.”
The program will give graduate students the chance to do research at the MU reactor and at national laboratories. Taub said more students need to be aware of neutron scattering.
“Presently in the United States, our neutron scattering community is smaller than say in Europe. Therefore we have the need to train students.”
Taub said his goal is to teach 20 graduate students over the course of five years, with each student serving a two-year fellowship at MU.