Argonne National Laboratory

Doing the neutron dance

By Jo NapolitanoApril 4, 2018

Two materials scientists, Suzanne te Velthuis and Stephan Rosenkranz, have been named fellows of the Neutron Scattering Society of America (NSSA).

The Society was formed in 1992 to identify and bring together the country’s neutron scattering community to stimulate, promote and broaden the use of neutrons in science and technology, and to carry out educational activities that support these goals.

Both honorees are scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

Te Velthuis, physicist in the Neutron and X-ray Scattering group in the Materials Science division, has been studying the physics of magnetic thin films and nanostructures throughout her career. She is a world-recognized expert in polarized neutron scattering and reflectivity. She was Secretary of the NSSA from 2006 to 2010 and has served on its award committees and on program committees of the American Conference on Neutron Scattering.

“I am incredibly honored to be elected a fellow of the NSSA and become part of this group of very distinguished and accomplished scientists,” she said.

Rosenkranz, senior physicist and leader of the Neutron and X-ray Scattering group, also has been involved in the NSSA for some time: He was president of the organization from 2013 to 2016 and served as program co-chair for the 2012 American Conference on Neutron Scattering. He has been using a variety of neutron scattering techniques to investigate physical properties of bulk materials and has developed novel scattering methods and instrumentation.

“I am truly honored to be named fellow of the NSSA, for which I previously had the pleasure to serve as president,” Rosenkranz said. “I owe thanks to my colleagues — all of them are outstanding scientists, particularly in the field of neutron scattering — with whom I have collaborated during the course of my career.”

Te Velthuis studies the magnetic properties of very thin layers of materials in experiments that use neutrons to probe the materials’ characteristics. Neutrons, she said, have a spin, which makes them sensitive to the magnetic properties, and therefore they are widely used to study magnetic materials.

She has also been involved in the annual National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering since its inaugural event in 1999 and served as one of its scientific directors for 10 years, ending in 2017. The 2-week school, hosted jointly by Argonne and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, provides a basic education in the wide array of neutron and x-ray scattering techniques available at large-scale neutron and x-ray facilities to 60 graduate students each year.

Rosenkranz used scattering methods to investigate the structure and dynamics in crystalline materials with unusual physical phenomena that are of potential interest for future applications, including high-temperature superconductivity and colossal magnetoresistance.

“I investigate how materials are ordered on the atomic scale, how their spins are aligned, and how the atoms and spins fluctuate when raising temperature or applying magnetic or electric fields or pressure,” he said. “My aim is to find and define the organizing principles that govern physical properties in the presence of complex disorder, which is a first step toward the design of novel materials.”

To reach this goal, Rosenkranz also has led — together with Ray Osborn, senior physicist in Argonne’s Materials Science division — the development of a novel neutron scattering instrument, CORELLI, which is now in operation at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the general user program.

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