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Diffraction is a standard technique to study crystal structure, alignment, texture and grain structure in hard matter. The important role of neutron diffraction in (hard) materials has been cemented by the penetrative and non-ionising nature of neutrons allowing non-destructive measurements in quite unusual sample environments, the sensitivity of neutrons to thermal motions, magnetic fields and the opportunities for isotopic studies.
Similar issues arise in soft matter, where material properties are highly influenced by analogues to these quantities formed by the arrangements of ensembles of molecules, often in a solvent, such as amphiphilic molecules or polymers rather than atoms. The structures formed consequentially occur at longer length-scales, and the role of thermal motions is rather different. In this intermediate length scale, a particular limitation of current instrumentation is the range of scattering vectors between classical high-resolution diffractometers and SANS instruments, but also the ability to resolve diffraction features in scattering curves over a range of scattering vectors/length-scales. A few instruments across the world are specifically designed to cover the sub-nanometric scale up to a few tens of nm (the recently upgraded D16 diffractometer at ILL, NIMROD at ISIS, EQ-SANS at ORNL, AND/R at NIST). Improved q-resolution is challenge to pursue many kinds of new science. This is an important feature of TOF SANS instruments with adjustable resolution choppers (Bilby at ANSTO and D33 at ILL).
The aim of this cross-disciplinary meeting will be to review and discuss the state-of-the-art in neutron diffraction at the nanoscale and to bring together researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines including soft matter, materials science, and biology. Current and future developments in the field will be presented to promote and adapt the use of neutrons to the needs of the community. The growing importance of sample environments and in-situ techniques will also be addressed.