ISIS is the world’s most successful pulsed spallation neutron source. The facility provides beams of neutrons and muons that enable scientists to probe the microscopic structure and dynamics of matter. The benefits of neutron scattering coupled with the strengths of the ISIS pulsed source have been responsible for the emergence of a world-class research programme at the facility, covering topics at the forefront of Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Earth Science, Engineering and Biology. Examples of ISIS science are presented in this section.



Water: the liquid of life

Water is vital to life on planet Earth. We see it every day, we drink and bathe in it; we use it to clean, cook, grow crops, provide energy, and we complain when it falls from the skies. It makes up around two thirds of a healthy human, and covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. Yet, despite its importance in everyday life, water has managed to retain some of its mystery.

Also in this section:

Science with Neutrons and Muons

Advanced Materials

More new materials have been made in the last 20 years than in the rest of history. ISIS provides scientists with unique views of these materials.


From the structure of small molecules to the shape of large molecular machines and technologies to develop drugs for controlling disease. Biological Science at ISIS covers a huge area.

Natural World

Neutron scattering at ISIS gives a unique insight into the geological processes of the Earth's surface and core, and is also being used to answer current questions about the Earth's natural environment.


New materials for energy production and storage are essential for a clean energy future. ISIS makes this materials research and discovery possible.

Heritage Science

The neutron diffraction instruments at ISIS (such as Gem, Polaris, Ines, Engin-x) can measure the crystal structure, non-destructively, right through an intact archaeological artefact or art object.


Chemistry applications of ISIS include studies of catalyst action, the behaviour of ions in solution, atmospheric reactions, radical reactions, molecular dynamics, liquid dynamics, hydrogen bonding . . . to name but a few.

Materials Engineering

ISIS neutrons are used to probe the stresses and material properties deep inside engineering components and materials.


From ancient artifacts to future technologies; atomic scales to astrophysics, physics at ISIS covers a diverse range of science.

Soft Matter

Soft matter encompasses a wide range of substances including polymers, surfactants (including detergents), liquid crystals, micelles (clumps of polar molecules), and microemulsions. All of these share the same basi properties – weak interactions between structural units and large numbers of ways to arrange themselves internally. And when they are touched, they actually feel soft.

Science at ISIS

ISIS Technology

To continue to be a world leading facility, the ISIS accelerator and targets are maintained and developed by teams of dedicated scientists and engineers.

Overview of ISIS Neutron Science

The high-energy beams of the ISIS accelerators produce intense pulses of neutrons. Neutrons are uncharged constituents of atoms and penetrate materials well, deflecting only from the nuclei of atoms.

A video tour of the ISIS facility

See how neutrons and muons are produced in an animated overview.

STFC Centre for Molecular Structure and Dynamics

The Centre for Molecular Structure and Dynamics (CMSD) is a research network funded and managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Neutron & Muon techniques

eobo SANS
Small angle scattering

Small angle neutron scattering is a neutron technique able to probe structures at length scales from around 1 nanometre to more than 100 nanometres. It has a wide range of applications from studies of polymers and biological molecules to nanoparticles to microemulsions and liposomes used for cosmetics and drug delivery.

Loq, Sans2d, Nimrod, Sandals

Muonium atom trapped inside a buckyball
Muon spectroscopy

Muons provide a complementary probe to neutrons, particularly in the areas of magnetism, superconductivity and charge transport.

Argus, Emu, Hifi, MuSR

High temperature superconductor structure
Neutron diffraction

Neutron diffraction experiments determine the atomic and/or magnetic structure of a material. This technique can be applied to study crystalline solids, gasses, liquids or amorphous materials.

Gem, Engin-X, Hrpd, Nimrod, Osiris, Pearl, Polaris, Rotax , Sandals, SXD, Wish , Ines

Understanding the deactivation of catalysts using neutron spectroscopy
Neutron spectroscopy

Neutron spectroscopy measures the atomic and magnetic motions of atoms.

Iris, MAPS, MARI, Merlin, Tosca, Vesuvio, Let, Osiris

Thin-film magnetism studied by neutron reflectometry

Neutron reflectometry is a technique for measuring the structure of thin films. It has applications from materials science through to soft matter and bioscience.

Crisp, Inter, Offspec, Polref, Surf

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