· Nanomaterials

Structural investigations within the framework of development of synthesis of novel nanomaterials whose properties are determined by structural features at the nanolevel, are one of the most promising directions of application of neutron scattering. The possibility of simultaneous use of isotopic substitution of hydrogen for deuterium in a substance under investigation and magnetic neutron scattering for studying magnetic systems is of particular significance.

The behaviour of complex nanomaterials is frequently determined by key components, which are present in very small quantities. Detailed investigations of internal structure are necessary to study the behaviour of an individual component in multi-component structures, such as detergents, food supplements, cosmetics and many others.


· Polymers and elastomers

The creation of magnetic composite polymers that can replace usual metal magnetic materials is among particularly promising directions in modern chemistry and physics of polymers. The advantages in the use of magnetic composite materials result from a number of factors, such as the ease of processing, light weight and low cost price.


· Crystalline materials with special properties

The major factor of development of all branches of industries, power engineering, medicine, information technologies is the synthesis of novel nanosystems and materials with unique tailored properties, which can change their properties and structure depending on the environment conditions and controllable external influences.

Novel oxide materials exhibiting a variety of unique properties among which are high-temperature superconductivity, colossal magnetoresistance effect, ferroelectricity have been recently synthesized; they open up wide prospects for their various technological applications in power engineering, electronics, computer technologies. Neutron diffraction studies are the highest-precision method of the structure analysis of light-atom materials. With their help it became possible to reveal microscopic basis of physical properties of these compounds based on unique peculiarities of crystal and magnetic structure.


· Composite and ceramic materials

Modern technologies often require materials with a unique set of properties that no one single chemical compound possesses. This problem can be solved by manufacturing composite and ceramic materials consisting of components with a necessary set of properties. Mechanical and other properties of such materials significantly depend on the character of distribution of internal stresses related to interphase boundaries, microcracks, dislocations, point defects.

In recent years neutron diffractometry of internal stresses has been intensively developing. In contrast to traditional methods, neutrons can penetrate deeper into most materials (2-3 cm for steels and up to 5 cm for aluminum). In case of multiphase materials (composites, reinforced materials, ceramics, alloys) neutrons provide information on the distribution of stresses separately for each phase.


· Engineering diagnostics

The great penetrating power of neutrons as compared to other types of radiation offers outstanding possibilities in neutron diffraction studies of internal stresses for nondestructive testing of bulk engineering products of constructional materials.

During the service of bulk engineering constructions and products the action of cyclic loading causes the accumulation of residual stresses, which can be detrimental to the performance of a material or the life of a component.

Determination of residual stresses with the help of neutron scattering methods is of great importance both for diagnostics of finished engineering products and for development of technologies of producing engineering goods with increased wear resistance.


· Molecular biology and pharmacology

In recent years neutron scattering methods are being increasingly used in solving biomedical problems, in particular, associated with transdermal drug delivery. The delivery of medicines through the skin with the help of various creams and cosmetics is a challenging direction of development of modern pharmacology. Understanding the structure and function of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the epidermis of the human skin, is vital because it is the key to successful transdermal drug delivery. Unlike the majority of biological membranes composed of phospholipids, the basis of the given membrane is formed by ceramids that prevent ingress of medicines into a human body through the skin.

Neutron diffraction allows us to determine the Stratum Corneum membrane structure with high accuracy and to trace the penetration of various substances into it.


· Geophysics and Earth sciences 

Geophysics and Earth sciences are a relatively new area for application of neutron methods. Information on deformations and internal stresses of rocks is indispensable to predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, to study changes in the Earth’s surface relief and ocean floor, to solve applied problems, e.g., substantiation of a construction site choice for deep underground radioactive waste storages. To obtain this information, neutron diffraction texture analysis is widely used nowadays, which makes it possible to study with high accuracy crystallographic textures of relatively large coarse-grained samples of rocks, i.e. this method provides information on preferred spatial orientation of grain crystal lattices across the whole mineral ensemble.