Frontiers and Horizons in Electron Volt Neutron Spectroscopy
21 Feb 2014



January 2014 saw over 40 scientists from across the globe coming together at Cosener’s House in Abingdon, UK, for a two-day meeting on the latest science and developments in instrumentation in the field of electron Volt (eV) neutron spectroscopy.

​​​Workshop delegates

The meeting was jointly organised by the ISIS Molecular Spectroscopy group, CNR, Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata and Università degli Studi di Milano in Italy.

VESUVIO is the only neutron spectrometer of its kind in the world and has seen recent and significant improvements of its capabilities, including an order-of-magnitude gain in accuracy and reproducibility.  With these, it is now possible to follow subtle yet physically meaningful changes in spectral width and line shapes, thereby enabling parametric studies as a function of external stimuli or time.

The first day of the meeting covered the latest science enabled by VESUVIO, with sessions on proton quantum dynamics, heavier nuclei and mass-resolved neutron spectroscopy (MANSE) in materials science, and closing with a session on experimental tools and analysis. This last session gave delegates the opportunity to hear about the new Mantid package for data analysis, indirect- and direct-geometry instruments for momentum-distribution studies, and to discuss future developments for the VESUVIO instrument.

The second day focused on computational tools and theoretical predictions, where a series of international speakers presented their ideas on future challenges in the field. Developments in first-principles simulations are providing new insights into increasingly complex materials and behaviours amenable to investigation with eV spectroscopy.

The day ended with a lively discussion on the future roles of eV Spectroscopy. The discussion emphasised the central role that VESUVIO continues to play in joint experimental and theoretical efforts to understand and describe nuclear quantum effects in condensed matter. It also covered more recent developments at ISIS to extend the realm of applicability of VESUVIO to MANSE studies of light atoms in functional materials, including lithium, carbon, or oxygen. Finally the numerous links and synergies to other instruments in the ISIS instrument suite and beyond, most notably TOSCA and MAPS, or SEQUOIA at the SNS were discussed.

According to Keith Refson, from STFC’s Scientific Computing Department “The workshop provided a showcase for how VESUVIO experiments accompanied by cutting-edge computer simulation can give deep and unprecedented insights into the quantum-mechanical behaviour of matter.”

Roberto Senesi from the Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata said, “This meeting provided a great opportunity to hear from a broad spectrum of VESUVIO users not only on current research but future directions in eV neutron spectroscopy. It also gave the community the chance to meet face to face, encouraging collaborations and to get their input on how they see the field moving forward.”

Andrew Seel, VESUVIO instrument scientist, added, “This meeting was a great success – providing a platform for users and theoreticians to discuss the recent research coming out of VESUVIO and associated user community. These meetings are also important, as they enable us as a facility to understand the needs and requirements of our users for the future. This allows us to shape the development programme of VESUVIO to provide the maximum benefit to the wider scientific community.”

Conference proceedings will be published in the Journal of Physics: Conference Series, an open-access journal. These will include a detailed record of all the discussions held and associated conclusions and plans for the way forward.