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Mauro publishes article about experimental technique for investigating structure of liquids

Nicholas Mauro, assistant professor of physics

Nicholas Mauro, North Central College assistant professor of physics, has authored an article in the journal The Review of Scientific Instruments that describes a new, experimental technique for investigating the structure of liquids.

The article, titled “Electrostatic levitation facility optimized for neutron diffraction studies of high temperature liquids at a spallation neutron source,” was coauthored with Ken Kelton, professor of physics at Washington University, as well as professors, researchers and students at Iowa State University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

This article describes a new facility that was built to allow experimenters to take metals, levitate them in an ultra-pristine environment, melt them, and then use neutrons produced at the recently constructedSpallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to probe the structure and dynamics of those liquids. Based on the work of professors Mauro and Kelton and the rest of the team, users from around the country will be able to apply for time on the machine in a competitive proposal process.

On the impact of the project, Mauro said, “This unique instrument will allow us to push the frontiers of material science and begin to answer questions not before accessible to our scientific community. Neutrons are tricky and finicky particles! When harnessed, as we have, they are powerful probes of what a liquid does before a phase transformation in a material. We expect this instrument to be in high demand for a long time to come, producing interesting and new physics.”