Neutron Scattering for Condensed Matter Studies

By Prof. Saibal Basu   |   IIT Bombay
Learners enrolled: 248
About the course: The short-range strong interaction of neutron with matter and the inherent magnetic moment of neutron, makes neutron scattering a unique probe in condensed matter research. An important advantage of neutrons is that they carry no charge   and can penetrate the bulk of materials. They interact via strong force with the nuclei of the material and the scattering cross section varies randomly between various elements and even between two isotopes of the same element. This allows one to observe light atoms such as hydrogen in the presence of heavier ones and distinguish neighbouring elements in the periodic table easily. Notably, hydrogen and deuterium have large contrast with respect to neutrons. One can exploit isotopic substitution and contrast variation methods in such studies. Since neutron also carries a magnetic moment of -1.91?N, it also interacts with magnetic moment in atoms, making it a unique probe for determination of microscopic magnetic structure.  Wavelength and energy of thermal neutron match with the lattice spacing and excitations in condensed matter and makes it an indispensable tool to study both structure and dynamics in condensed matter. Using neutron scattering techniques with varying momentum transfer and energy transfer range and resolution one is capable or understanding structure and dynamics in materials at various length and time  scales.

PRE-REQUISITES: M.Sc in Physics or Chemistry/bachelor’s in Material Science. The course is a stand-alone course for application of neutron scattering to condensed matter problems.

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Ph. D. students and researchers in condensed matter physics

INDUSTRY SUPPORT: Some characterization tools like Diffraction, SANS and PNR are often  used by industry
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 12 weeks
Category :
  • Physics
Credit Points : 3
Level : Postgraduate
Start Date : 25 Jul 2022
End Date : 14 Oct 2022
Enrollment Ends : 08 Aug 2022
Exam Date : 30 Oct 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1: Properties of neutron, Comparison with other probes: optical rays, x-rays, electrons,  Nature of interaction between neutrons and matter at microscopic length scale
Week 2: Neutron Sources: Reactors and Accelerator based sources, Neutron Scattering Instrumentation for condensed matter studies vis a vis neutron sources, Neutron detectors.
Week 3: Principles of Neutron Scattering under Born approximation, Scattering Laws, coherent and incoherent scattering, Principle of detailed balance, correlation functions.
Week 4: Neutron diffraction at different length scales: microscopic to mesoscopic.
Week 5: Neutron diffraction from powders, single crystals, liquid and amorphous systems
Week 6: Magnetic structure using neutron diffraction
Week 7: Small Angle Neutron Scattering (SANS) from precipitates and inhomogeneities
Week 8: Polarized Neutron Reflectometry (PNR) from magnetic thin films
Week 9: Back to Born approximation and scattering law. Inelastic and Quasi-elastic neutron scattering for  dynamics in condensed matter.
Week 10: Inelastic neutron scattering from phonons. Experiments to determine phonon dispersion relations using single crystals and phonon density of states from powders. Magnons.
Week 11: Quasi-elastic neutron scattering to determine stochastic dynamics like diffusion in solids and liquids
Week 12: Detailed discussion on available neutron sources and spectrometers at nuclear reactors and spallation neutron sources for experiment design with examples.

Books and references

  1. Neutron Diffraction, G. Bacon (Clarendon, Oxford 1975 )
  2. Thermal Neutron Scattering, P.A. .Egelstaff (Academic Press)
  3. Theory of Thermal Neutron Scattering, W. Marshall and S.W. Lovesey, (Clarendon, Oxford 1971)
  4. Thermal Neutron Scattering, G.L. Squires, (Cambridge University Press, 1978)
  5. Methods in Experimental Physics, Vol. 23 (eds. D.L. Price, Kurt Skold), (Academic Inc.USA 1987)
  6. Neutron scattering in condensed matter, A. Furrer, J. Mesot, T Strässle (world Scientific)
  7. Methods of Experimental Physics Ed. D.L. Price and K. Sköld P 99:Neutron Sources J.M. Carpentar and W.B. Yelon,(Academic Press) Topics in Current Physics, Vol 6 ‘Neutron Diffraction’ H. Dachs (Springer)
  8. Structure Analysis by Small-Angle X-Ray and Neutron Scattering, L.A. Feigin and D.I. Svergun (Plenum Press, New York, 1987)
  9. Neutron, X-Ray and Light Scattering, P. Lindner and T. Zemb (North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1991)
  10. Neutron Scattering from Polymers, J.S. Higgins and H. Benoit (Clarendon, Oxford, 1994)

Instructor bio

Prof. Saibal Basu

IIT Bombay
Prof. Saibal Basu retired as Head, Solid State Physics Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai. He was a Raja Ramanna Fellow and a senior professor at Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI). He has been working in condensed matter research using neutrons for nearly four decades. His field of research has been, neutron scattering, development of neutron spectrometers and development of cold neutron sources. He was the leader of neutron beam research at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre as Head of Solid State Physics Division. He developed the first Polarized Neutron Reflectometer in the country for characterization of thin films. His special interest had been thin films as novel components of material science. Prof. Basu had worked as a Research Reactor Specialist at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna during 2001. He was also a visiting scientist at National Institute for Standards and Technology’s reactor centre during 2005-2006. Prof. Basu has more than hundred publications and a large number of presentations in National and International conferences. He had delivered invited talks in large number of International symposia. Several students have worked under the guidance of Prof. Saibal Basu towards their doctoral thesis at HBNI. Prof. Basu had initiated several international collaborations in the field of neutron beam research and neutron beam instrumentation. He was part of a Coordinated Research Project (CRP) under IAEA on production of cold neutrons. Prof. Basu was a board member of Asia Oceania Neutron Scattering Society. Presently he is a member of the editorial board of an Elsevier journal, Heliyon

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 30 October 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 8 assignments out of the total 12 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Bombay .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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