At the ANBUG Annual General Meeting in November 2020, Dr Jamie Schulz, the Director of the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering (ACNS), provided an update on the operations, including the effects of COVID19. He also announced an exciting new development: the beginning of a new community engagement program in 2021 to build the scientific case for developing a second neutron guide hall, along with a new generation of instruments. In case you missed it, a copy of his presentation slides are linked below..
Neutron reflectometry is a powerful technique to study thin films with nanometer-scale precision. RefNx is open-source software developed by Andrew Nelson at ANSTO to fit and interpret neutron reflectometry patterns. He has kindly provided a series of video tutorials explaining each step of the process.
The following is an excerpt of the director’s address from Dr. Jamie Schulz:
Well, the start to 2020 has been an interesting one with catastrophic bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic which have both affected the user program and the COVID-19 pandemic us all.
On 23rd March ANSTO moved to an essential and critical operations mode with all scientific research infrastructure being shutdown unless they provide supporting functions for essential and critical operations (reactor operation, radiopharmaceutical production, site maintenance etc) or are undertaking COVID-19 related research. ACNS has had an open call for COVID-19 related research using our neutron scattering instruments (see the Beamtime Applications section). Since then the OPAL reactor continued to operate whilst the neutron scattering instruments were shut down and ACNS staff are mainly working from home.
Another direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was the postponement of the OPAL long shutdown that was scheduled to occur in June 2020. The primary reason for the OPAL long shutdown is to replace the TG123 primary shutter which feeds neutrons to the thermal neutron beam instruments in the Neutron Guide Hall. The benefits of TG123 primary shutter replacement are two-fold, firstly the in-pile neutron guides have deteriorated and we have observed a decrease in neutron flux on the thermal instruments and secondly to install the TG2 neutron guide which will provide 2 additional beamlines for new instruments. Given the likely impact of COVID-19 was expected to be at least a year a decision was made to postpone the long shutdown to June 2021. The OPAL reactor schedule to the end of 2021 is available here.
We commenced the return to the ANSTO site on Monday 25th May and we are currently undertaking maintenance, upgrades and commissioning activities now to ensure number of days available for our users is maximised later in the year as travel restrictions ease. The ACNS user program will recommence after the scheduled OPAL reactor shutdown finishes on the 23rd June.
We will start with the current backlog of proposals that were not able to be run due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and the ANSTO shutdown, initially using mail-in and then progressively to Sydney-basin users, interstate users, New Zealand users (if the Australia-New Zealand travel bubble is created) and finally international users. We have number of upgrade projects underway including: installation of a high-resolution detector on Bilby to allow measurements to lower Q; a redesign and upgrade of Koala Laue Diffractometer; two Australian Research Council (ARC) LinkageEquipment and Facilities Grants both being lead by the University of New South Wales for rheometry and high-pressure sample environment equipment; NSW Research Attraction and Acceleration Program Grant for an in-situ Laser Metal Deposition System; and finally $6.7M from the Australian Governments Research Infrastructure Investment Plan for equipment replacement and upgrades in 2021-22.
Stay safe and we are looking forward to seeing you again at ANSTO soon.
The Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering will recommence user operations from 23 June.
All Users coming to ANSTO are required to undertake a COVID-19 Induction for the specific facility visited prior to site access. Local area inductions will also be provided outlining safe working practices (e.g. social distancing, area occupancy limits, personal protective equipment).
The Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering is now accepting proposals for the 2021-1 round (Jan – Jun 2021). ANSTO will advise as soon as possible when other facilities and platforms will be open for submission.
The information below is taken the email from the ANSTO User Office on 20 May 2020:
As we prepare to recommence our user program, we will complete planned maintenance and infrastructure will be brought back to a state of operational readiness. We do not expect to resume operations at full capacity during this phase.
Our commitment is to
· Address first those approved experiments/projects postponed from the 2020-1 round due to COVID-19 measures. We will contact the impacted users soon to discuss restarting these experiments;
· Consider mail-in of samples, where possible, subject to agreement with Research Infrastructure contacts;
· Progressively allow users on site, from local/state, national and international institutions depending on Government and respective institutional travel advice, and ANSTO risk assessments;
· Award proposals under the 2020-2 (Lucas Heights) or 2020/2 (Clayton) rounds contingent on when user operations resume; and
· Reopen new proposal submissions once back-log is addressed and normal operations re-established.
ANSTO VIC (Australian Synchrotron) will recommence regular user operations from June, following the principles outlined above. As Government restrictions ease, ANSTO NSW will assess the risk of resuming a reduced level of user program that will permit the presence of users on site.
The following email was circulated from the ANSTO user office, March 23 and contains the most up-to-date information available. As the situation is rapidly changing, please check regularly for updated information.
To all ANSTO users, visitors and colleagues,
ANSTO is making temporary changes to its staffing arrangements in line with government advice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and support efforts to preserve ongoing essential and critical operations. While the OPAL reactor, key safety activities, nuclear medicine production and other critical and essential support activities will continue at the Lucas Heights and Clayton campus, all other staff have been asked to work from home from 23 March 2020. There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 amongst ANSTO staff, but given the escalating situation, we are moving now to reduce the chances of it coming onto our campuses. This means that all user programs in our research infrastructure platforms are suspended until further notice. This suspension will also impact commercial access and services. The only exception to this is support for critical investigations into COVID-19 virus. Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to reconnecting with you once circumstances allow and restarting our user programs. Updates, when available, will be sent to you from the User Office and questions you may have can also be directed there: Lucas Heights and Camperdown facilities contact firstname.lastname@example.org ; Australian Synchrotron contact email@example.com .
The AINSE-ANBUG Neutron Scattering Symposium for 2018 was held on the 19-21 November at the AINSE theatre. A hundred delegates from 54 institutions travelled to Sydney from across Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Japan and Sweden. A full set of statistics about the conference and diversity can be found here. The ANBUG executive wishes to thank all of the delegates and the organising committee led by Gail Iles (RMIT) for an enjoyable and successful meeting. We look forward to seeing many of you again at the joint ANBUG-ANSTO user meeting later in 2019.
Congratulations to the following PhD students who received prizes:
Best PhD Thesis – Grace Causer (University of Wollongong)
Best Oral Presentation (1st Place) – Isaac Graham (University of New South Wales)
Best Oral Presentation (2nd Place) – Katherine Chea (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)
Best Oral Presentation (3rd Place) – Tara Brown (University of Wollongong)
Best Poster Presentation (1st Place) – Mostafa Masud (University of Queensland)
Best Poster Presentation (2nd Place) – Nur Mod Darbi (University of Auckland)
Best Poster Presentation (3rd Place) – Joseph Vella (University of Auckland)
The 2018 ANBUG-AINSE Neutron Scattering Symposium will be held on 19th – 21stNov 2018 at the AINSE conference centre, Lucas Heights, New South Wales, at the site of the ANSTO-operated OPAL research reactor near Sydney. The symposium is the biennial meeting of the neutron scattering community in Australia and New Zealand, and also welcomes the many international users of the Australian OPAL research reactor.
Abstracts can now be submitted at the conference webpage. Abstract submission will close 23 September.