Neutron scattering experiments are incredibly data-rich and often challenging to interpret. From data collection and reduction to analysis and interpretation, computers are used at every stage of modern neutron experiments.
Editor and ISIS beamline scientist Jeff Armstrong explains; “Modern day neutron scattering experiments are heavily reliant on computational methods, whether it be in neutron ray tracing for the design of new instruments, software to handle data acquisition and processing, or in making sense of results through computational analysis or atomistic modelling."
Alongside Keith Butler, a previous ISIS staff member and now part of STFC's scientific computing department, and fellow editor, Matthew Ryder from Oak Ridge National Lab, they collated a series of articles based on invited authors and open submissions. Keith adds; “Neutron sources are expensive and powerful experimental resources. Computers are vital for realising the full potential of these facilities and extracting full value from the information gathered."
The articles feature a huge range of work done at ISIS and code developed at the facility. Although linked by the common use of computing, the variety of the work covered within the issue remains very broad. The editors also acknowledge the benefits of a concerted move towards high quality, open code; “It is immensely encouraging for the future of software in neutron science."
Jeff adds; “We acknowledge that for many scientists, performing their first neutron scattering experiment can already feel like a daunting step, without the additional step of learning how to use a new tool such as molecular modelling or Bayesian analysis. We felt it was therefore timely to produce a special issue which both showcases the variety of applications that computational methods can have across the entire suite of instruments at a facility, as well as provide some guidance in the form of a review of these methods for the total beginner."
The full Focus Issue on Computers in Neutron Science is available online.