Neutrons are being utilised in detailed scientific research which aims to probe deep into the molecular structure of materials from plastics to proteins. However, the sourcing of neutrons has been a problem. Nuclear reactors have been used until now, but with the signing of an agreement last night in Paris, that could all change.
Sweden, Denmark, the signing countries are: Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain and Switzerland have made a formal undertaking to support the building of a European Spallation Source in Lund.
Peter Honeth, State Secretary at Ministry of Education and Research said:
“Sweden already has bilateral agreements with some of these countries but this is the first time that all our partners formally undertake to participate in the ESS. Final negotiations will be held in due course but the fact that all the countries have now signed this agreement is an important step along the way.”
“The difference between the current and future neutron sources will be like the difference between looking at an object in the glow of a candle and doing it under flash lighting” – according to ESS scientists who are aiming to build the ESS before 2020 in order to compete effectively with an existing spallation source in the the USA and one which is under construction in Japan.