Unveiling of the Frankenstein Neutron Collimator by ORNL - A Perspective on 3D Printing Technology

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have pioneered a new approach dubbed the “Frankenstein design” to overcome challenges in 3D printing neutron collimators. These vital components, crucial for neutron scattering experiments, were previously hindered by the limitations of traditional manufacturing methods. Neutron collimators serve to filter out unwanted neutrons, ensuring accurate data collection during experiments.

By utilizing additive manufacturing techniques such as binder jetting, the team successfully printed multiple smaller parts and manually assembled them into complete collimators. This approach not only addressed issues of precision but also allowed for the customization of collimator designs to suit specific experimental requirements.

The innovative “Frankenstein design” incorporates alternate-blade configurations, optimizing collimator performance while mitigating size-related printing limitations. Advanced computational simulations were employed to refine the design, streamlining the production process and ensuring optimal functionality.

Experimental verification carried out on the Spallation Neutron and Pressure beamline established the effectiveness of the 3D printed collimators, signifying a substantial enhancement in sample signal in proportion to needless scatter. This achievement underscores the revolutionary possibility of integrating modeling and sophisticated production methods in the progression of neutron science.

“In a bid to manifest the feasibility of employing tailor-made, 3D-produced collimators, we opted to use a significantly small sample contained in a diamond anvil cell – a high-pressure chamber that leverages diamonds to apply squeeze to materials,” explained Bianca Haberl, the principal author of the study and a neutron scattering scientist at SNS.

“Certain cells are so robust and intricate that they can produce pressures nearly equivalent to those at the Earth’s core. Indeed, high-pressure cells are among the most complicated environments employed in neutron experiments, hence the immense challenge in filtering out the voluminous amount of undesirable cell scatter they generate.”

In the future, expect further refinements in manufacturing quality control and alignment procedures that will further enhance the precision and efficiency of neutron scattering instruments. By pioneering custom collimator designs, this study paves the way for future advancements in the field of neutron science and beyond.

Source: ornl.gov

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