What is neutron reflectivity?
In neutron reflectivity experiments, a narrow beam of neutrons is bounced off a surface. Like beams of light bouncing off a mirror, neutron beams bounce off surfaces at the same angle as they arrive, and are collected by neutron detectors (instead of light detectors). And just as when you see rainbow-coloured patterns in soap bubbles, or from oil on the surface of puddles due to reflection,refraction or interference of light, similar effects take place in neutron experiments.
Reflections off smooth surfaces are known as specular reflection or specular scattering. Reflections off rough surfaces, such as your clothes or when two thin films are in contact, are known as diffuse reflections or off-specular scattering.
Neutron reflectometry offers unique advantages over techniques such as scanning probe microscopy and grazing incidence x-ray diffraction – in particular, the ability to study buried interfaces and to give information on composition profiles perpendicular to an interface.
For more information on what INTER is capable of please see the science case.