OAK RIDGE, Oct. 9, 2008 -- New analytical tools coming on line at the Spallation Neutron Source, the Department of Energy's state-of-the-art neutron science facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, include a beam line dedicated to nuclear physics studies.
The Fundamental Neutron Physics Beam Line (FNPB) has opened its shutter to receive neutrons for the first time. Among the nuclear physics studies planned for the new, intense beam line are experiments that probe the neutron-related mysteries associated with the "Big Bang."
"Completion of the Fundamental Neutron Physics Beam Line marks a significant step in the SNS's ramp up to full power, building up to its eventual suite of 25 instruments for neutron analysis," said ORNL Director Thom Mason, who led the SNS construction project to its completion. "The nuclear physics community is excited to have this new tool for exploring theories of the origins of the universe."
Although research at most of the current and future operating SNS beam lines is directed towards condensed matter and materials research, research at the FNPB is focused on basic studies in nuclear physics.
"While other beam lines use neutrons as a probe to study materials, the object for much of the work proposed at the FNPB is the study of the neutron itself," said University of Tennessee Professor Geoffrey Greene, who holds a Joint Faculty Appointment with ORNL and who leads the FNPB project. "Among the questions that will be addressed at the FNPB are the details of the internal structure of the neutron as well as a careful study of the way in which the free neutron decays. Such experiments have important implication for fundamental questions in particle physics and cosmology."
Greene explained that neutrons, which have no electric charge, may nevertheless have a slight displacement between internal positive and negative charges. The existence of such a "neutron electric dipole moment" could s
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DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory