16 Oct 2008



High intensity, medium resolution powder diffractometer.

​​The Polaris detector tank


Polaris is the ideal complement to the high-resolution powder diffractometer HRPD. Its strengths lie in the rapid characterisation of structures, the study of small quantities of materials (as little as ~1mm3), the collection of data in rapid time (down to ~5 minutes) and the studies of materials under non-ambient conditions within complex sample environment equipment, such as high pressure cells or reaction vessels. The uniquely high flux of epithermal neutrons available at a spallation neutron source enable extremely short d-spacings, as low as 0.3 Å, to be measured on Polaris. The very wide Q range thus accessed is invaluable in the refinement of site occupancies and temperature factors in disordered materials, such as solid electrolytes and high Tc superconductors, using powder diffraction data.

Science Areas.

The versatility of Polaris is reflected in the very broad range of scientific research performed on the instrument (see the science highlights). It has a strong research programme both in average structure determination, but also in local-structure (total-scattering) measurements. The instrument has been used for studies into new battery materials (ionic conductors, in-situ battery cells, industrially important battery materials), complex high-entropy alloys, toughened ceramics, small samples recovered from high-pressure synthesise, zeolites, and real time in situ studies (often involving complex gas-handling systems and temperature control). Please contact an instrument scientist for further information, or see the link below for a list of Polaris publications. Key applications include:

  • Site occupancies and thermal vibration parameters
  • Time-resolved measurements
  • Diffraction studies of very small sample volumes
  • Samples at high pressures
  • Ab initio structure determination
  • Studies of magnetic ordering


The current Polaris instrument has been operating since 2012 following a major upgrade funded by the CCLRC/STFC Facilities Development Fund and the Swedish Vetenskapsrådet Research Council, and with in-kind contributions from The Basque Country, Spain. Between August 2010 and December 2011 the old Polaris instrument was dismantled and a completely new diffractometer installed in its place, with the user program​me on the upgraded Polaris resuming in May 2012.  Experiments have now been running successfully for over 10 years.​

Polaris was instrumental in developing the instrumentation required for high pressure powder neutron diffraction measurement to 25 GPa.​​ This programme of research was later moved to PEARL, a dedicated instrument for powder measurements at high pressure.

Follow this link for more information on the Polaris upgrade.

Follow this link for a picture of the first diffraction patterns collected on the upgraded Polaris.

​Contact information for Polaris instrument

Location and contact information for the Polaris beamline

Access Restricted
Telephone 01235 446819