An introduction to neutron reflectometry
1 Université Paris-Saclay, Laboratoire Léon-Brillouin, CEA-CNRS, CEA-Saclay, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
2 Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, UFR SMBH, 74 rue Marcel-Cachin, F-93017 Bobigny, France
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
Published online: 1 July 2020
Specular neutron reflectivity is a neutron diffraction technique that provides information about the structure of surfaces or thin films. It enables the measurement of the neutron scattering length density profile perpendicular to the plane of a surface or an interface, and thereby gives access to the profile of the chemical composition of the film. The wave-particle duality allows to describe neutrons as waves; at an interface between two media of different refractive indexes, neutrons are partially reflected and refracted by the interface. Interferences can occur between waves reflected at the top and at the bottom of a thin film at an interface, which gives rise to interference fringes in the reflectivity profile directly related to its thickness. The characteristic sizes that can be probed range from 5Å to 2000 Å. Neutron-matter interaction directly occurs between neutron and the atom nuclei, which enable to tune the contrast by isotopic substitution. This makes it particularly interesting in the fields of soft matter and biophysics. This course is composed of two parts describing respectively its principle and the experimental aspects of the method (instruments, samples). Examples of applications of neutron reflectometry in the biological domain are presented by Y. Gerelli in the book section “Applications of neutron reflectometry in biology”.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
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