Bimonthly News for HFIR and SNS Users | Nov–Dec 2020              View this email in your browser

A Message from Paul Langan, Associate Laboratory Director, Neutron Sciences

I have spent a decade at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and as I prepare to enter my seventh year as Associate Laboratory Director (ALD), Neutron Science at ORNL has never been stronger. With our directorate in a position of strength, I am leaving ORNL in the spring. I have accepted a position as director of the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) in France. I will begin that transition April 1.
It is healthy and necessary to refresh the leadership of large research organizations every few years so there is a continued evolution of ideas. We have posted the ALD position here and commenced an international search, with the goal of a successor being appointed who can work alongside me for as much of my remaining time at ORNL as possible. For more information, click here.

This past year, our neutron sources hummed along with high reliability at world-leading levels of power. Upgraded neutron scattering instruments with cutting-edge capabilities are producing high-impact discoveries across a variety of areas of science, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Strong progress is being made with plans to upgrade the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) and High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR). We now have three major projects at different stages of maturity; the Proton Power Upgrade (PPU) is in full construction phase, the Second Target Station (STS) is in the conceptual design phase, and HFIR Futures is in the early stages of pre-conceptual design.

Our remarkable progress over the past few years is due to the commitment, dedication, innovation, and creativity of all our staff at the SNS and HFIR and the participation of our users, albeit remotely during the pandemic.

The next decade holds incredible opportunities made possible by our 3-source strategy, which will ensure ORNL remains a world-leading center for neutron scattering science and innovation serving generations to come.

In the meantime, I’m still here for a few months and I will continue to work with everyone as we focus on safely executing our critical missions in science.

I look forward to seeing the continued growth and success of ORNL and I hope I will have the opportunity to continue to collaborate with you.

SNS-HFIR User Group (SHUG) Election Results

Four new members have been elected to the SHUG Executive Committee starting January 1. Newly elected members are: Yun Liu, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Neutron Research; Rana Ashkar, Virginia Tech; Lisa Debeer-Schmitt, ORNL; and Travis Williams, ORNL. They will join returning members Martin Mourigal, Olivier Delaire, William Ratcliff, Jarek Majewski, Danielle Yahne, Geneva Laurita, Daniel Shoemaker and Adrian Brügger. Daniel Shoemaker will assume responsibilities as the SHUG chair January 1.
Many thanks to Martin Mourigal for serving as the 2020 SHUG EC Chair, and to outgoing SHUG EC members who have served for the past three years: Adam Azcel (ORNL), Allyson Fry-Petit (California State University, Fullerton), Eugene Mamontov (ORNL), and Dvora Perahia (Clemson).

The SHUG EC provides a direct interface between the users of the ORNL neutron scattering facilities and management. For more information about SHUG and the SHUG EC, visit the SHUG website. Please contact the SHUG EC at for questions regarding the election.
Left to right: Yun Liu, Rana Ashkar, Lisa Debeer-Schmitt, Travis Williams.

SNS General User Proposal Call Awards for 2021-A

Beam time awards for SNS instruments for the 2021-A proposal call were sent out on November 11. Users submitted 368 total instrument requests for SNS in this call. Thirty-two percent of SNS proposals were awarded beam time, which will be scheduled in the January to June 2021 award period. Currently, experiments are still limited to remote access participation only.
Users submitted 135 total instrument requests for HFIR in this call. Decisions on beam time allocation for HFIR experiments will be delayed until we know the restart date and an estimated number of available days for the 2021-A cycle at HFIR.  

HFIR is currently not operating. We are continuing to work with the Department of Energy (DOE) to define a path forward to obtaining approval to restart operations of HFIR. 

Message from the User Office: New Process for Remote Access for Foreign National Users

Starting with 2021-A, all foreign national team members on proposals that are approved or given alternate status will be emailed an ORNL invitation form to set up access for remote participation. For proposals given alternate status, this is not a guarantee that your proposal will run, but advanced processing is recommended so you can quickly be approved to participate should beam time become available. 
If you are unsure if you plan to remotely participate, it is recommended you submit the form so your access will be in place should you decide to participate. ORNL remote access requires up to 2 weeks for processing and approval, so submitting these in advance can avoid delays during last-minute scheduling changes.
  • Foreign national users who reside outside the US have the option on the form to select “cyber access only, no visa required”, and you may leave the visa and passport fields blank.
  • Foreign national users who reside inside the US will have to provide their visa and passport information on the form.
  • ORNL invite forms will not be sent to foreign national users on HFIR proposals until after the award notifications are sent.
  • At this time, US citizens are not required to set up access for remote experiments.
If you have any questions about filling out and submitting the form, please email the SNS/HFIR User Assistants at

Research Highlight: Neutrons Chart Atomic Map of COVID-19’s Viral Replication Mechanism

To better understand how the novel coronavirus behaves and how it can be stopped, scientists have completed a three-dimensional map that reveals the location of every atom in an enzyme molecule critical to SARS-CoV-2 reproduction.
Researchers at ORNL used neutron scattering to identify key information to improve the effectiveness of drug inhibitors designed to block the virus’s replication mechanism. The research is published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“This new information is exactly what is needed to design inhibitors with a higher degree of specificity, ensuring the inhibitor molecules are binding very tightly to their intended targets and disabling the protease,” said ORNL’s Andrey Kovalevsky, corresponding author. Read the Full Article.

Go inside the Spallation Neutron Source in VR!

Now, anyone can visit the SNS and other ORNL user facilities through the lab’s virtual tour initiative. The virtual tour of the SNS, which allows viewers to virtually walk around the facility in the same manner as an in-person tour, features 360-degree views of the multi-level DOE neutron flagship facility.
Visitors will have access to each of the 19 high-powered instruments as well as the construction site for VENUS, the facility’s newest instrument. Virtual tours are also in development for the SNS facility’s linear accelerator, the klystron gallery, and SNS’s sister facility, HFIR, one of the most powerful nuclear research reactors in the world. Take the Tour!

2021 Neutron Sciences Calendar Posters are Available Online

The 2021 Neutron Sciences calendar posters are now available online. The latest calendar poster highlights important research achievements and initiatives developed in response to COVID-19. Despite challenges imposed by the pandemic, our staff remained diligent in delivering cutting-edge science and staying on track with construction projects critical to new neutron scattering instruments, the PPU, and the STS. 

Events: US Muon Virtual Workshop, February 1-2, 2021

The goal of this two-day virtual workshop is to bring scientists and engineers from around the world together to discuss the construction of a world-class facility for Muon Spectroscopy (μSR) at the SNS. 
µSR is a technique that uses spin-polarized muons implanted in a material to provide extremely sensitive measurements of the static and dynamic properties of the local magnetic field distribution within the sample. This workshop, co-sponsored by the Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences, and the National Science Foundation, will bring together experts on scattering techniques to discuss a road map for a future muon facility in the United States. Given the scale of the proposed facility, a bi-agency collaboration is important to ensure the success of the project. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required by February 2. Visit the website for more information and to register.

Staff Updates at SNS and HFIR

In May 2020, ORNL launched the “Reimagining ORNL” initiative to expand opportunities for scientific leadership, and to strategically align programs and facilities with ORNL’s research missions and emerging fields. The Neutron Sciences Directorate (NScD) recently appointed the following positions: (top row, left to right) Richard Ibberson, Section Head of SNS Beamline Operations; Bobby Cross, Group Leader for SNS Operations Support; Jaimie Werner, Group Leader for Labs and Soft Matter: Harley Skorpenske, Group Leader for SNS Science Support 1, Andre Parizzi, Group Leader for SNS Science Support 2; Bryan Chakoumakos, Group Leader for Single-Crystal Diffraction; (bottom row, left to right) Andrew Payzant, Group Leader for Materials Engineering; Hugh O’Neill, Group Leader for Bio-Facilities; Doug Abernathy, Group Leader for Direct Geometry; Jaime Fernandez-Baca, Group Leader for Triple-Axis Spectroscopy; Timmy Ramirez-Cuesta, Group Leader for Chemical Spectroscopy; and Clarina Dela Cruz, Group Leader for Powder Diffraction.

Information about the “Reimagining ORNL” initiative can be found here.

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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