BREAKING – BNC to ease neutron shortage in Europe

Wed, 01/19/2022

Many of us in Europe involved in one or another way in science or technology using neutrons have witnessed recent shutdown of neutron sources, the pandemic-related difficulties and unavailability of neutrons at neutron facilities all over Europe and beyond. These restrictions delay the progress of science and instrument development projects, adversely affect young researchers’ carrier worldwide and increase the load upon the few ­sources still in operation.

The reactor of BNC with the recently repaired cold source has performed flawlessly since September 2021. Hopefully, this remains like that in the coming years. The 2022 reactor schedule is available at This situation emboldens the BNC staff to make the following pledge to the European neutron community:
In the year 2022, we offer to accommodate the experiments of science proposals, which have been allocated beam time in any LENS facility's user program, but not yet scheduled for any reason, if – at least part of – the experiments are technically feasible to accomplish at BNC­. No further refereeing procedure is involved. The principal investigator (PI) only has to apply for a BNC LENS beam time. The proposals are to be considered a regular BNC science proposal (with all its rights and obligations) as described here and here. Please note that the neutrons (i.e.) the beam time allocated to a science proposal at BNC are provided free of charge, while, as a rule, unfortunately, BNC is not able to cover mobility expenses. Proprietary research requests may be negotiated separately with the BNC User Office. In order to ensure optimum planning of the technical conditions and to maintain transparency between the neutron facilities involved, the contact persons of the original proposals at the respective facility are welcome to take part both in planning and in performing the experiment and will be kept Cc-d in all communication between the BNC staff and the PI. In order to speed up the process, technical and scheduling discussions between the PI, the BNC and the original LENS facility's instrument scientists (IS) will be initiated within three working days following the submission. A final deadline of the BNC LENS beam time applications is 22 February, 2022. Proposers will be notified of the decision by 28 February 2022.

We are fully aware of the considerable differences between the performance of our reactor and beamline instrumentations and many of the top-notch instruments at ILL, ISIS, PSI, and MLZ, so we are not mistaken to believe that most of the delayed experiments can be performed at BNC. However, we are confident that numerous projects, sub-projects, PhD theses and instrument development projects can benefit of a BNC LENS beam time.

We hope by this exceptional action we may ease the neutron shortage in Europe for a number of projects and shorten the backlog at larger facilities. To our delight, Dr. McGreevy, chairman of LENS embraces the idea of the “BNC LENS beam time” proposals and – according to his reply to Dr. Ákos Horváth, director general of Centre for Energy Research, the host institution of BNC – LENS is ready to assist to make it an all-European action.