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Issue 26, 2013
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Practical applications of small-angle neutron scattering

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Recent improvements in beam-line accessibility and technology have led to small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) becoming more frequently applied to materials problems. SANS has been used to study the assembly, dispersion, alignment and mixing of nanoscale condensed matter, as well as to characterise the internal structure of organic thin films, porous structures and inclusions within steel. Using time-resolved SANS, growth mechanisms in materials systems and soft matter phase transitions can also be explored. This review is intended for newcomers to SANS as well as experts. Therefore, the basic knowledge required for its use is first summarised. After this introduction, various examples are given of the types of soft and hard matter that have been studied by SANS. The information that can be extracted from the data is highlighted, alongside the methods used to obtain it. In addition to presenting the findings, explanations are provided on how the SANS measurements were optimised, such as the use of contrast variation to highlight specific parts of a structure. Emphasis is placed on the use of complementary techniques to improve data quality (e.g. using other scattering methods) and the accuracy of data analysis (e.g. using microscopy to separately determine shape and size). This is done with a view to providing guidance on how best to design and analyse future SANS measurements on materials not listed below.

Graphical abstract: Practical applications of small-angle neutron scattering

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The article was received on 22 Jan 2013, accepted on 21 Mar 2013 and first published on 25 Mar 2013

Article type: Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP50293G
Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013,15, 10566-10579

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    Practical applications of small-angle neutron scattering

    M. J. Hollamby, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013, 15, 10566
    DOI: 10.1039/C3CP50293G

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