Neutron scattering lab officially launched

11 March 2019

Hong Kong’s first laboratory on neutron scattering was officially established in February 2019, supported by the Croucher Foundation and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The facility has been jointly set up by City University of Hong Kong and the Chinese Academy’s Institute of High Energy Physics to help scientists study the structure of materials and develop a better understanding of their dynamics.

Neutron scattering, originally developed as a tool for physics, offers a significant and versatile method for characterising materials. By measuring the change in energy and momentum of neutron scattering, scientists can discover more about the micro structure and movement patterns of materials. Such research is expected to bring insightful contributions to fields including medicine, new nuclear energy, nanotechnology, and physics.

The City University of Hong Kong-Institute of High Energy Physics Joint Laboratory will work closely with China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS), located in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. CSNS, organised as a branch campus of the Institute of High Energy Physics, is the first neutron production facility in a developing country and only the fourth worldwide.

The neutron scattering laboratory at City University of Hong Kong will collaborate with CSNS on professional training, research projects, and use of facilities. The laboratory is co-directed by Professor Chen Hesheng, Director of CSNS and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Professor Wang Xunli, Head of Department and Chair Professor of Physics at City University of Hong Kong.

Chen said that the new facility would boost collaboration between CSNS and Hong Kong scientists, build new scattering instruments, and nurture more scientists working in the field. It would also enhance Hong Kong’s technology infrastructure and the standing of its science and technology research.

Wang noted that through sponsorship from the Croucher Foundation and Chinese Academy of Sciences, and a grant from Hong Kong’s Research Grants Council Collaborative Research Fund, the joint laboratory would build a scattering instrument for studies on disordered materials. He also said that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area initiative – a strategic national development plan to deepen cooperation and connectivity between nine cities in Guangdong and the two Special Administrative Regions – would offer tremendous opportunities for technology development.

Physics Nobel Laureate Professor Yang Chen-ning, who attended the launch of the joint laboratory on 27 February 2019, said that neutron scattering research was important for materials science, biology, and chemistry. Given the major focus on science and technology in the Greater Bay Area, he believed that the new facility would make a valuable contribution to the region.