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Optimizing Instrumentation Design: Mathematica's Role in Improving a Powerful Neutron Spectrometer

Wolfgang Schmidt, Scientist, Jülich Centre for Neutron Science (JCNS)

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"I can use Mathematica to check if there are useful results or not, which would normally use some days to get the results, I can get in a few hours with Mathematica."
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To maintain its position as one of the best spectrometers for neutron scattering research, a team of scientists, including Wolfgang Schmidt, has been working to design new neutron optical components to improve the efficiency of the IN12 instrument. For Schmidt, the quickest and most effective way to calculate, simulate, and analyze the designs is with Mathematica.


Mathematica's flexible programming language allows Schmidt to quickly write new programs and verify lengthy calculations for simulations he needs to investigate for the spectrometer upgrades. One of the new optical components Schmidt developed for the IN12 spectrometer is a neutron polarizer. With Mathematica, he could test and visualize various parameters that helped him design the device and optimize its performance.

The streamlined workflow means he gets useful results in a matter of hours compared to the days it took previously. "With Mathematica, then I could really go on and understand what is really in the background, what is the mathematics behind, which affects what, and to get a faster way to come to some results," says Schmidt.

Now installed, the neutron polarizer Schmidt developed is proving to be more efficient in polarizing and transmitting the beam, making the spectrometer a more powerful instrument for neutron scattering research.

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