Researching Neutron Imaging: Is Imaging a Single Molecule Possible?

In summary: If the neutrons were of sufficiently low energy, they would not be prone to absorption and would instead scatter off the nuclei.
  • #1
CPL.Luke
441
1
how plausible is it to image a single molecule using low energy neutrons? I was thinking it might be possible to build something similar to an interference microscope in order to accomplish this however I'm not entirely sure.

I was thinking of doing a little research project on the mechanics of such a scope and was interested in any thoughts.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
It is very difficult to build neutron microscopes (although they do exist) simply because you can't use electromagnetic lenses (which is how e.g electron- and ion-based microscopes work) to focus the particles; this is the reason for why existing microscopes have very low resolution.
Another issue is that neutrons are very heavy and carry a lot of momentum so presumably you would always run the risk of destroying the sample you were looking at, at least if you were really trying to look at an individual molecule (neutron scattering is routinely used to determine the structure of complex molecules, but that is a very different mechanism)
 
  • #3
CPL.Luke said:
how plausible is it to image a single molecule using low energy neutrons? I was thinking it might be possible to build something similar to an interference microscope in order to accomplish this however I'm not entirely sure.
It's not plausible, basically for the reasons stated by f95toli. The individual neutrons would scatter off the nuclei, if not absorbed. The scattered neutrons would have to be detected, but as far as a detector would be concerned, the neutrons would appear to come from a point source. Neutrons can only be detected by being absorbed, since they don't interact electromagnetically with atoms.

Neutron radiography works like X-ray radiography, in that it is the neutrons which pass through the object that are detected (absorbed) by an image target. The neutrons are absorbed by the atoms (nuclei) in the target, and is then the gamma emissions from the target which render an image on a photographic film or phosphor.
 
  • #4
but as far as a detector would be concerned, the neutrons would appear to come from a point source

wouldn't low energy neutrons interfere thus producing an interference pattern? I see the implausibility due to optics (something that could possibly be overcome) or more importantly beating the crap out of your molecule by bombarding it with neutrons.

Neutron radiography works like X-ray radiography, in that it is the neutrons which pass through the object that are detected (absorbed) by an image target. The neutrons are absorbed by the atoms (nuclei) in the target, and is then the gamma emissions from the target which render an image on a photographic film or phosphor.

if the neutrons were of sufficiently low energy though they would not be prone to absorption correct? and instead would scatter off the nucleus?
 

Related to Researching Neutron Imaging: Is Imaging a Single Molecule Possible?

1. Can we use neutron imaging to image a single molecule?

Yes, it is possible to use neutron imaging to image a single molecule. However, it requires specialized equipment and techniques, as well as a highly controlled environment.

2. What is the advantage of using neutron imaging over other imaging techniques?

One of the main advantages of neutron imaging is its ability to penetrate dense materials, such as metals and ceramics, which can be difficult to image using other techniques. Neutrons also interact differently with different elements, providing valuable information about a molecule's composition.

3. How does neutron imaging work?

Neutron imaging works by using a neutron source, such as a nuclear reactor, to bombard a sample with neutrons. The neutrons then interact with the sample, causing them to scatter or absorb. The scattered neutrons are then detected and used to create an image.

4. What are some challenges in using neutron imaging for single molecule imaging?

Some of the challenges in using neutron imaging for single molecule imaging include the low intensity of neutron beams, the need for specialized equipment and expertise, and the potential for background noise from other sources.

5. What are some potential applications of single molecule imaging using neutron imaging?

Single molecule imaging using neutron imaging has potential applications in various fields, including materials science, biology, and pharmaceuticals. It can provide valuable insights into the structure and behavior of individual molecules, which can aid in the development of new materials and drugs.

Similar threads

Replies
1
Views
503
Replies
6
Views
503
Replies
3
Views
575
  • Quantum Physics
Replies
17
Views
1K
  • Quantum Physics
Replies
13
Views
2K
  • Quantum Physics
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
975
Replies
8
Views
1K
Replies
26
Views
4K
  • STEM Career Guidance
Replies
3
Views
1K
Back
Top