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Accessing neutron data in near real-time

An overview of the Spallation Neutron Source. Video courtesy Oak Ridge Associated Universities.


Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, US, is home to the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), which produces the most intense neutron beams in the world. Scientists study how the neutrons scatter when different materials are exposed to the beams.

Spallation Neutron Source
machine. Image courtesy Oak
Ridge Naitonal Laboratory

The findings – comprising hundreds of gigabytes and terabytes of data – provide scientists with clues to the underlying, fundamental nature of materials, and enable them to engineer materials at the atomic level.

Generating and processing the scatter data from a given material can take as much or more than an entire day, so a team of researchers has created and implemented an advanced software infrastructure called ADARA (Accelerating Data Acquisition, Reduction and Analysis). ADARA enables scientists to access their data in real time – similar to a streaming movie – rather than waiting for individual files to be stored.

Giving scientists access to data in near-real time will enable them to optimize conditions, such as temperature and pressure, which might improve their experimental results. Making these adjustments may even cut the time needed for researchers to obtain high-quality data. The team plans to phase out the old data management system and deploy ADARA to all SNS beam lines by the end of 2014.

- Amber Harmon

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