Second Target Station/Biological and Environmental Systems Science Workshop

Background: Discovery science drives innovation and underpins the technological advances that will solve some of society’s most challenging issues, including climate change, clean renewable energy technologies, better medicines, safe potable water, and address aging infrastructures, including transportation. Many of these advances will result from basic research to advance our understanding of biological and environmental processes and materials. Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s neutron sources provide cutting-edge scientific tools to probe the structure and dynamics of matter in unique ways. This insight is fundamental to advancing our understanding of biogeochemical processes across spatial and temporal scales and their impact on the Earth’s climate using high resolution earth system models and our ability to discover, design, and develop new materials essential for advanced sustainable technologies to address society’s most pressing needs.

The Spallation Neutron Source Second Target Station (STS) will be a new, high brightness source optimized for production of cold neutrons. It will provide transformational new capabilities that complement the strengths of the current ORNL neutron sources. The high brightness cold neutrons will enable time-resolved measurements of kinetic processes. The intense neutron beams will allow study of smaller samples of biological and environmental samples or materials under a wide range of conditions. The STS pulse rate of 15 Hz enables simultaneous measurement of structure and dynamics across a broad range of length scales from Ås to cm.

The initial suite of eight neutron instruments that will be built as part of the STS Project has been selected ( While many instrument proposals included BER (the U.S. Department of Energy’s, Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research program, science in their science cases, it is time for a more comprehensive look across the selected instruments to identify any missing science themes that could modify instrument designs and identify science opportunities that the next wave of STS instruments could address.

Charge: The goal of this workshop is to identify opportunities for BER science on the current suite of selected instruments and identify capability gaps that might create an opportunity for BER-funded instruments to be built at the Second Target Station. The workshop will result in a report that describes BER science themes that can be pursued on the 8 selected instruments and any special requirements that need to be considered in the early design of these instruments, including the application of simultaneous or sequential multi-modal techniques. The report will also describe capability gaps in the ORNL neutron instrumentation suite that could be addressed by new or improved instruments at any of the three ORNL neutron sources (the High Flux Isotope Reactor, the Spallation Neutron Source First Target Station, and the STS).

Workshop participants are encouraged to consider the following questions in their discussions:

  • Identifying current methods or approaches in biological and environmental science where neutrons could provide complementary information.
  • Are there unique requirements needed to support BER science that should be considered in the current 8 STS instrument designs? Are there synergistic or multimodal capabilities that should be incorporated into neutron beamlines?
  • Are there any special requirements for data analysis and reduction that should be considered for the 8 selected instruments?
  • What are the emerging and projected biological and environmental science grand challenges where neutrons can provide unique information?
  • What are current methods, systems or approaches in biological and environmental science where neutrons can provide complementary information?
  • What science-driven capabilities are needed beyond those of the current ORNL instrument suite and the 8 initial STS instruments?

Participants are encouraged to prepare “quad-charts” before the workshop describing biological and environmental science opportunities that could benefit from the application of neutron scattering.  Please see the quad-chart page for instructions. 

The workshop will be held on June 14, 21, 28 (every Tuesday for three weeks) from 1pm-5pm EST. Please make sure to register.