Syllabus for Neutron Scattering


A revised version of the syllabus is available.


  • 10 credits
  • Course code: 1FA574
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: Physics A1N, Materials Science A1N
  • Grading system: Fail (U), Pass (3), Pass with credit (4), Pass with distinction (5)
  • Established: 2010-03-18
  • Established by:
  • Revised: 2019-10-21
  • Revised by: The Faculty Board of Science and Technology
  • Applies from: week 27, 2020
  • Entry requirements: 120 credits in science/technology with Quantum Physics. Scattering Theory is recommended.
  • Responsible department: Department of Physics and Astronomy

Learning outcomes

This course introduces the basics of neutron scattering methods used for materials research.

On completion of the course the students have to be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the specifics of neutron scattering methods and what they are particularly strong at.
  • classify the interactions of different probes with matter in the context of scattering cross sections.
  • bring neutron scattering into context with complementary techniques.
  • understand basic scattering theory, in particular kinematic approximation and reflectivity.
  • relate neutron scattering data to physical phenomena.
  • evaluate the applicability of a neutron scattering experiments to answer specific research questions.
  • assess the practical requirements of neutron scattering experiments with respect to instrumentation and sample design.


Coherence. Interaction of radiation and particles with matter. Scattering cross sections. Kinematic approximation. Real and reciprocal space. Scattering potential for neutrons. Coherent and incoherent scattering. Reflection measurements. Scattering function. Magnetic scattering. Contrast variation. Inelastic and quasi-elastic scattering. Production, delivery and detection of neutrons. Design of neutron instrumentation. Data processing, correction and analysis.


Lectures, lessons and laboratory sessions. Some lectures may be presented by guest lecturers from research centres. A non-compulsory excursion to neutron scattering facility will be offered. Some lectures are mandatory.


Literature based case study with written report and oral presentation (7.5 credits). Beamtime application, oral presentation and written proposal (2.5 hcp). Active participation in lectures and labs.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the disability coordinator of the university.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 27, 2020

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

  • Sivia, D. S. Elementary scattering theory : for X-ray and neutron users

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, c2011.

    Find in the library


Further reading

  • Bée, Marc Quasielastic neutron scattering : principles and applications in solid state chemistry, biology and materials science

    Bristol: Hilger, cop. 1988

    Find in the library

  • Lovesey, Stephen William Theory of neutron scattering from condensed matter : Vol. 1, Nuclear scattering

    Oxford: Clarendon, 1986

    Find in the library

  • Sears, Varley F. Neutron optics; An Introduction to the Theory of Neutron Optical Phenomena and their Applications

    Oxford University Press,

    Find in the library

  • Squires, Gordon Leslie Introduction to the theory of thermal neutron scattering

    Cambridge,c 1978: 1978

    Find in the library

  • Willis, B. T. M.; Carlile, C. J. Experimental neutron scattering

    Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

    Find in the library