Bimonthly News for HFIR and SNS Users | May—June 2021            View this email in your browser

A Message from Ken Andersen

It has been a long, difficult year for many around the world, but we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

In fact, ORNL has begun a safe, orderly, and intentional transition to increase onsite density in the coming months. We have also implemented the new Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidance for fully vaccinated people, which has allowed us to remove face covers and social distancing for most people on campus. We also are starting to plan for the eventual return of our users and visitors to our campus here in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
ORNL’s plans will be suspended or reversed of course, if COVID-19 conditions warrant, or as guidance from the CDC or Department of Energy continues to evolve. However, I want you to know we are thinking about you and the value you bring to our neutron facilities, as we consider how we can resume onsite user experimentation while prioritizing the safety of visitors and staff.

Expect to hear more from ORNL in the next few months as we continue to make progress on our plans to return our staff, users, and other visitors to our beautiful campus.

Registration Opens for August 2021 Joint Nanoscience and Neutron Scattering User Meeting

The Executive Committees for the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS), the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) User Groups are pleased to announce the 2021 Joint Nanoscience and Neutron Scattering User Meeting, to be held online from August 9-12, 2021, with workshops held during weeks of August 2 and August 16. This meeting will highlight the research achievements and interests of CNMS, SNS, and HFIR users, staff and the broader nanoscience and neutron scattering communities. Registration is available at no cost, but is required by June 30 in order to receive links to the meeting.
Read More and Register

Reminder: Requirements for International Sample Shipments

We have been experiencing an increase in international shipments that are held up at customs. The primary issue is that completed Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) forms are not being sent with some shipments. The increase we are seeing is a relatively small number, but it is frustrating for users and staff when it occurs.
There are a couple of important items to remember about international shipments:
  1. Users are the Importer of Record (IOR). This means that you are the owner of the samples, and are solely responsible for your samples making it to ORNL.
  2. As the owner of the samples, you must complete all necessary forms, including the:
    1. Pro Forma Invoice
    2. Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) form
    3. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Intended Use Statement
    4. Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
    5. Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code
  3. Including the IPTS on the exterior of the package is recommended as it helps ORNL shipping & receiving (and Labs and Soft Matter) to quickly identify neutron user samples.
  4. A packing list helps with sample identification.
All the pertinent information regarding the shipping of samples to ORNL and a checklist is available in the User Shipping Guide. Please review these instructions to avoid shipping delays. If the samples shipped to ORNL are not accompanied with the necessary information, they may end up being returned, resulting in missing your scheduled beamtime.

If you experience a delay in customs, please contact and include copies of the documents submitted with the samples.

Science Highlight: Creating exotic ‘outer space’ ice at SNS

Because interstellar space is so cold and is primarily a vacuum, the water we detect from Earth is usually in the form of amorphous ice, meaning its atomic structure is not arranged neatly into a crystalline lattice like ice on Earth. How the transition between the crystalline and amorphous ice phases occurs on icy bodies like Europa or on Kuiper Belt Objects beyond Pluto, is difficult to study—unless you can mimic the cold, dark vacuum of outer space, under intense radiation, in a laboratory.
That’s exactly what scientists from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working on at the ORNL Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). They lowered the temperature of a single crystal sapphire plate to 25 K (about minus 414° F), placed it in a vacuum chamber, and added just a few molecules at a time of water–in this case, heavy water (D2O)–to the plate. Then they observed how the ice structure changed with varying temperature before it finally formed crystalline ice. The team next plans to simulate the solar system’s icy bodies by bombarding the sample with electron radiation to determine how this influences the ice structure.  Read More >

2021-B General User Proposal Call Results

Proposal call 2021-B closed March 24, 2021. We received 624 total instrument requests, 550 for SNS and 74 for HFIR. Only four instruments from HFIR participated in the 2021-B call (CG-2; CG-3; CG-4D; and HB-2B). There were 144 approved proposals for SNS, and 151 alternates. Forty-four proposals were approved for HFIR, with 17 alternates. Users were notified of their proposal status May 21.
Charts showing total General User proposals submitted and approved over the last 4 cycles can now be found on our website.

The fall call for proposals will close on September 22, 2021.

Reminder: Access Requirements Change for Foreign National Users

Starting May 1, 2021, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) requires up to 20 business days to process Remote and On-Site Access for foreign national users. This processing time does not include weekends or holidays and starts once the access request has been submitted to the User Office for processing.
We want to ensure that all team members interested in participating in the experiment will be able to do so. We ask for Principal Investigators to help us by adding all potential team members to your proposal as soon as your proposal is awarded beam time or alternate status. Foreign national team members added to a proposal for participation fewer than 20 days before the experiment start date will only be able to participate if they have an access request that already has been approved.
  • If you are unsure if you plan to participate, it is recommended you submit the form so your access will be in place should you decide to participate.
  • Access requests are required for any foreign national that will remotely participate via Remote Direction or Remote Control of the instrument, and anyone that comes onsite.
  • As of this time, US Citizens do not need an access request for remote access, but still require an access request for on-site access.
If you have any questions about filling out and submitting the form, please email the SNS/HFIR User Assistants at

Staff Updates

Colin Sarkis joined ORNL as a postdoctoral fellow working in the Quantum Science Center with Stephen Nagler and Alan Tennant and a member of the Time-of-Flight Spectroscopy team in the Neutron Scattering Division (NSD). 

Prior to joining ORNL, Colin completed a PhD in physics at Colorado State University (CSU), where he carried out research on frustrated magnetism while mentored by CSU professor Kate Ross.
He also earned an MS in physics from CSU in 2018 and previously received a BS in physics with minors in astronomy and materials science from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

Outside of work, Colin enjoys playing the guitar, running, hiking, and playing board games.


Workshop on Quantum Materials: New Insights from Neutron Scattering

A virtual workshop on June 9-10 is being hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory and University of Minnesota on “Quantum Materials: New Insights from Neutron Scattering.” This workshop is being held free of charge, but organizers are asking those who are interested to register. Read more and register >

Visit our Science Highlights page for all the recent news and features including:

For questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact
Janell Thomson
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