Total neutron scattering (TNS) has been applied for almost 30 years at ISIS to the study of liquids and glasses. The unique combination of high energy neutrons and forward scattering detectors allows a routine Q range of 0.1-50 Å on SANDALS (TS1) and, more recently, 0.01-80 Å on NIMROD (TS2), with minimal inelasticity corrections. In the past 15-20 years, the traditional hydrogen/deuterium substitution technique has been complemented with atomistic simulations (EPSR), to allow for structure refinement and full exploitation of the diffraction data.
In three decades, the scientific program of the Disordered Materials group at ISIS has seen a dramatic increase in quantity and breath, going from water and amorphous ice to aqueous solutions of biolgical molecules, to clays and nanomaterials. In this contribution I will focus on materials with an application or potential application in the energy and environmental fields, showcasing some of our most recent and most advanced studies.
The study of hydrogen storage and battery materials is a key area for TNS, as many scientists turn away from classical crystalline materials to investigate the interesting properties that disordered and amorphous materials have to offer. Heterogeneous catalysis and synthesis of catalytic materials has been studied on SANDALS, making use of the ability to dose samples in situ and thus examine a catalytic reaction in its before and after states.
The investigation of ionic liquids and their application as novel green solvents is an area that has developed on SANDALS since 2007, with more and more researchers moving away from the coarse grain description provided by SAS techniques to seek a detailed understanding of the diverse molecular bonding in these solvents. More recently, studies of the emerging area of deep-eutectic solvents have also contributed to SANDALS environmental programme.
A theme that cuts across the energy and environment and manufacturing areas is the study of homogenous catalysis in water, where new compounds have the potential to substitute water for traditional solvents as a medium for chemical reactions.