Scholarly article on topic 'IMAT – A New Imaging and Diffraction Instrument at ISIS'

IMAT – A New Imaging and Diffraction Instrument at ISIS Academic research paper on "Materials engineering"

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Abstract of research paper on Materials engineering, author of scientific article — W. Kockelmann, S.Y. Zhang, J.F. Kelleher, J.B. Nightingale, G. Burca, et al.

Abstract A new facility for combined neutron imaging and neutron diffraction called IMAT is currently being built at the pulsed neutron spallation source ISIS in the United Kingdom. Analytical techniques will include neutron radiography, neutron tomography, energy-selective neutron imaging, residual strain analysis and spatially resolved texture analysis. The instrument will be available for a wide range of materials science applications with a main emphasis on engineering studies. It is expected that IMAT will start operation in 2015.

Academic research paper on topic "IMAT – A New Imaging and Diffraction Instrument at ISIS"

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Physics Procedia 43 (2013) 100 - 110

The 7th International Topical Meeting on Neutron Radiography

IMAT - a new imaging and diffraction instrument at ISIS

W. Kockelmanna*, SY. Zhanga, J.F. Kellehera, J.B. Nightingalea, G. Burcab,

J.A. Jamesb

a STFC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, ISIS Facility, Chilton, OX11 0QX, UK b Materials Engineering (DDEM), The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK


A new facility for combined neutron imaging and neutron diffraction called IMAT is currently being built at the pulsed neutron spallation source ISIS in the United Kingdom. Analytical techniques will include neutron radiography, neutron tomography, energy-selective neutron imaging, residual strain analysis and spatially resolved texture analysis. The instrument will be available for a wide range of materials science applications with a main emphasis on engineering studies. It is expected that IMAT will start operation in 2015.

© 2013 The Authors. Published byElsevier B.V. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibilty ofITMNR-7

Keywords: neutron imaging; neutron diffraction; instrument design; texture; strain;

1. Introduction

A new facility for neutron imaging and neutron diffraction called IMAT (Imaging and Materials Science) is currently being constructed at the second target station (TS-2) of the pulsed neutron spallation source ISIS, UK. IMAT will include dedicated imaging capabilities which are combined with a diffraction set-up. IMAT will offer a combination of imaging and spatially resolved diffraction modes such as neutron radiography, neutron tomography, energy-selective imaging, neutron strain scanning,

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 (0)1235 446731; fax: +44 (0)1235 445720 E-mail address:

1875-3892 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibilty of ITMNR-7 doi: 10.1016/j.phpro.2013.03.013

crystallographic structure and phase analysis, and texture analysis. Of particular importance for IMAT will be Bragg edge transmission analysis for strain and crystallographic texture imaging [1-3]. Many projects will require only one or the other analysis technique, but the possibility of performing diffraction or imaging experiments on one beamline will enable new types of experiments to be performed, especially considering the ease with which energy-selective measurements can be carried out on a pulsed source [4, 5]. The residual strains/stresses and structures inside large engineering samples can be more effectively analysed if the diffraction scans are guided by radiographic data. Vice versa, diffraction analysis may be indispensable for a quantitative analysis and physical interpretation of the attenuation features observed in energy-dependent radiography data. In this paper we introduce the basic design idea of the instrument, starting with a description of the design constraints. Results from Monte Carlo calculations aimed at determining the performance characteristics of IMAT will be presented. Finally, some applications and the future science areas will be indicated.

2. Design considerations

IMAT will enable both imaging and diffraction applications by making use of time-of-flight (TOF) techniques for energy-selective imaging, strain analysis and texture analysis. The strain analysis capabilities will be complementary to the existing neutron strain scanner ENGIN-X at ISIS [6] in terms of flux, resolution, and sample size. ENGIN-X views a 'sharp pulse', decoupled moderator on ISIS TS-1; the scientific specifications of IMAT are matched to the performance of the ISIS TS-2 which is a low-power pulsed source of about 50 kW with a 'broad pulse' coupled moderator for IMAT. Complementarity to ENGIN-X was a major design consideration which is why performance calculations for IMAT were benchmarked against the ENGIN-X performance.

The combination of the different analysis techniques and beam characteristics on one and the same beamline poses design constraints which have to be dealt with without significantly compromising the performance of the individual techniques. Some of the general design aspects and requirements are:

• Beam size: imaging applications require a large beam (in the order of many cm2) and highest possible neutron flux. Diffraction applications require a small beam (in the order of mm2) and a good spectral resolution. The maximum neutron beam diameter for imaging on IMAT, corresponding to the maximum field-of-view (FOV), was chosen to be 200 mm at the sample position whereas the minimum beam size for diffraction will be 1 mm. The maximum FOV for imaging is given by the pinhole-camera distance but also limited by the operational space available at the sample position for sample movements and the diffraction detector installations. The choice of a maximum FOV is also constrained by the requirement to build a compact, transportable camera box.

• Neutron intensity: imaging and in-situ diffraction applications require highest possible primary neutron flux which necessitates the choice of a coupled moderator, at the expense of resolution.

• Wavelength resolution: the diffraction set-up requires a sufficiently long primary flight path which dictates the use of a neutron guide. The wavelength resolution AA/A for neutron imaging has to be sufficient for strain measurements via Bragg edge transmission analysis.

• Wavelength band: a wide band of wavelengths is required for Bragg edge imaging and for achieving sufficiently wide d-spacing coverage for diffraction analysis. This is facilitated by the 10 Hz operation of the TS-2 source. The instrument has to provide for short d-spacings (down to 0.5 A) for diffraction, as well as for long d-spacings for quantitative Rietveld analysis of both high- and low crystal-symmetry materials. Long wavelengths, above 5 A, are required to cover the first Bragg edges of many relevant engineering materials for Bragg edge transmission analysis applications.

• For strain analysis diffraction detectors at 90-degrees, left and right of the incoming neutron beam, are advantageous for the simultaneous measurement of two orthogonal strain components. Additional

detectors at other scattering angles help to characterize other strain components without sample reorientation.

• Imaging beam profile: the neutron beam profile at the sample position has to be as homogeneous in space and time (wavelength) as possible. The 'open beam' should be symmetric and flat across the imaging camera. Steps in the intensity distribution and Bragg edges originating from upstream components are to be minimized. This requirement is at odds with the use of a neutron guide which causes geometrical artefacts [7] and wavelength-dependent divergences.

• Diffraction detector requirements: there has to be sufficiently high angular detector coverage for rapid in-situ strain, phase and texture analysis. At the same time, a high detector pixellation of the diffraction detector banks is required to ensure sufficient texture resolution.

• Imaging detector requirements: a high spatial resolution is required. Considering the general resolution limitations for neutron imaging and considering the relatively weak neutron source at TS-2 IMAT will aim for a best spatial resolution of 50 ^m. High temporal resolution and TOF capability are pre-conditions to fully exploit the pulsed source for best energy discrimination and efficient data collection schemes.

3. Instrument design

3.1. Main instrument components and parameters

The instrument will take full advantage of the 10 Hz pulsed source. IMAT will be placed on a high-intensity moderator, a broad-pulse coupled, composite liquid hydrogen (L-H2) - solid methane (S-CH4) moderator on the ISIS TS-2 source. Figure 1 shows a rudimentary schematic of the instrument. Table 1 lists the main instrument parameters. A long flight path of 56 m to the sample position will ensure good time-of-flight resolution while retaining a large neutron energy bandwidth. A square, straight neutron guide transports the neutrons from the moderator to an aperture selector. From the aperture selector the beam is guided in evacuated tubes up to the sample position.

A T0 (t-zero) chopper serves as fast neutron and gamma filter. Two double-disk choppers define the wavelength band to prevent frame-overlap of neutrons between successive neutron pulses. The choppers

can be run at half-frequency to access the second frame, thereby doubling neutron wavelength bandwidth. The aperture selector will offer a choice of five apertures, to define different L/D ratios (where L is the distance from pinhole selector to camera, and D is the diameter of the aperture). The pinhole selector has a large open position for the beam to pass through for diffraction experiments. With a set of five beamline "jaws" (beam delimiters), and one set of slits just in front of the sample, the beam size at the sample position can be adjusted, from 200x200 mm2 for imaging to a minimum of 1x1 mm2 for diffraction applications. In order to swap from imaging to diffraction mode, the aperture selector will be simply moved to an open position, and the beam jaws will be adjusted to the desired sampling size.

Two imaging cameras will be available: a gated CCD camera with a maximum field-of-view of 200x200 mm2, and a TOF capable high-resolution pixel detector with a field of view of 30x30 mm2. The two cameras can be used in turn.

Table 1. IMAT instrument parameters



L-H2 / S-CH4 (W5 port on TS-2)

Repetition rate 5, 10 Hz

Neutron guide m=3, straight, square 100x100 mm2 in 2 m long shutter section 95x95 mm2 for ~42 m guide

Choppers T0 (20 Hz), 2 double-disk choppers (10 Hz)

Single frame bandwidth 0.68- 6.8 A

Double frame bandwidth 2- 14 A

Flight path to sample 56 m

Imaging: L: Distance pinhole - sample D: Aperture diameter 10 m 5, 10, 20, 40, 80 mm

L/D 2000, 1000, 500, 250, 125

Best spatial resolution 50 |im

Max Field of View 200x200 mm2

Detector types Gated CCD camera Max. Field of View: 200 x200 mm2

High-resolution (TOF) pixel detector Max. Field of View: 30 x 30 mm2

Diffraction Secondary flight path 2.0 m (at 2theta=90 degree)

Detector type Wavelength-shifting fibre coded ZnS/LiF scintillation detectors at 2theta=20, 45, 90, 125, 155 degrees

Detector coverage 4 steradian (1 sr at 90 degrees)

Minimum gauge volume 1x1x1 mm3

Sample positioning: Heavy-duty rotation-translation table (1.5 tonnes) + Tomography rotation stage; 2 Theodolithes; Touchprobe or Laser Tracker; SScanSS software package [8]

Sample preparation and storage: Sample preparation and analysis laboratory;

Storage space for activated samples; Safe and humidity/temperature controlled storage space; _Storage space for radial collimator sets_

Five pixellated diffraction detector arrays at different 2theta scattering angles, with a total coverage of 4 sr, will be installed for diffraction analysis. Each array is composed of many scintillation detector elements (pixels) each having a rectangular size of 4x100 mm2. Each array will be at a distance of about 2 m from the sample. Two detector banks at 90-degrees have a particular relevance for strain analysis, for simultaneously measuring two orthogonal strain components. Radial collimators will be installed between sample and each 90-degree detector bank in order to define a diffracting (gauge) volume for a given beam

size. Every collimator unit can be removed, or exchanged for a different one; collimators with varying gauge sizes are being designed to provide ample space for samples and diffraction scans. For example, the available space between the collimator faces for a '2 mm gauge' collimator will be about 1 m.

3.2. Expected instrument performance

The instrument performance of IMAT was evaluated by Monte Carlo calculations using the package McStas [9]. Further calculations with McNPX for estimating shielding requirements and fast neutron and gamma radiation background are not reported here [10]. Table 2 gives a summary of IMAT performance indicators. The straight, square (95x95 mm2), m=3 guide was subjected to several optimisation cycles where geometry parameters and reflectivities were varied to maximise the neutron flux on the sample for imaging and diffraction with a single set-up, and to minimise geometrical artefacts in the "open beam" image at the sample position. Several breaks in the guide for choppers and vacuum isolation valves were included in the calculations.

Figure 2a shows the IMAT spectrum at the sample position compared to the ENGIN-X spectrum for 10 Hz and 25 Hz running, respectively. The thermalised IMAT flux peaks at around Xpeak =3 A. The maximum single-frame wavelength value is about 6.7 A, just above twice the value of Xpeak, which makes the IMAT wavelength band convenient for collection efficiency, i.e. peak wavelengths are not heavily over-counted and long wavelengths are not under-counted. The IMAT disk choppers at about 12 m and 20 m from the moderator limit the wavelength band to 0.7-6.7 A, thus preventing frame overlap of successive ISIS neutron pulses at the detector position. By operating the choppers at 5 Hz instead (rather than the standard 10 Hz) the wavelength range can be extended to 14 A (not shown in Fig. 2), at the costs of a lower neutron flux. Moreover, the wavelength bands can be shifted by re-phasing the choppers. The best imaging and diffraction resolutions are limited by the pulse width of the moderator. Figure 2b displays the wavelength-dependent pulse width (FWHM), as well as the energy-resolution (ДЛ/Л) at 56 m, i.e. at the approximate position of the imaging camera. The long-wavelength FWHM is 800 ¡¡sec which yields a resolution of AT/T = ДЛ/Л <0.8% for all wavelengths.

Figure 3 compares diffraction intensities and Bragg peaks for IMAT and ENGIN-X. It should be noted that the count rates for ENGIN-X are multiplied by a factor of five for better comparison since the diffraction intensities are considerable higher for IMAT compared to ENGIN-X for the same acquisition time and for the most important wavelength region up to 5 A (see Figure 2a). The strain resolution which depends on peak widths as well as on integrated peak intensities is only slightly poorer for IMAT (70 ¡a £) compared to ENGIN-X (50 ¡a £) for the same counting time. The expected resolution functions for all five IMAT detector banks are shown in Figure 4. The calculated Ad/d d-spacing resolution at 90 degrees is 0.7% at 3 A, for a divergence of the primary beam of 0.2 degrees. The 90-degree banks will provide d-spacings between 0.5 and 4.8 A for the standard single-frame bandwidth. IMAT can always operate with the maximum available bandwidth due to the 10 Hz operation of the source, and is therefore very efficient in utilizing the produced neutrons. Figure 5 shows simulated diffraction patterns for the five IMAT detector banks at different scattering angles, indicating the practical d-spacing ranges.

wavelength (A)

wavelength (A)

Fig. 2 . (a) IMAT flux distribution at sample position compared to ENGIN-X; (b) A )JX resolution as a function of wavelength; (c) Moderator pulse width (FWHM);

a 02 ■/! c

£ o.i H

Fe(110) Bragg edge


40500 40020 41250 41580 41010 42240

ToF [jus]

Fig. 3. Comparison of Bragg peak shape (left) and Bragg edge shape (right) of IMAT (red) and ENGIN-X (blue). The Bragg peak intensity for ENGIN-X is multiplied by 5 for better comparison.




20 deg

45 deg-

______________90 deg

. . . 4......... ♦ * *.......


sji*";.'1 125 deg

¡■'-■' 155 deg

12 3 4

d-spacing (A)

Fig. 4. Diffraction resolutions for different IMAT detector banks at 2theta=20, 45, 90, 125, 155°. The plot on the right shows the same data in a shorter d-spacing range.

The imaging mode will use a wide beam emanating from a pinhole to study extended objects in a single acquisition or in a scanning mode with a detector screen of 20x20 cm2. Figure 6 shows the "open beam" (no sample), white-beam intensity distributions on the imaging screen for different pinhole sizes. The figure shows that with decreasing pinhole size, the intensity distributions on the imaging screen are inhomogeneous exhibiting geometric patterns of intensity stripes. The primary cause of the geometric artefacts is that there are regions of the detector which look at points on the guide/moderator system from which no neutrons emanate, such as chopper gaps or regions outside of the moderator. These image artefacts can be corrected by pixel-by-pixel normalisation, as the simulations show. For the lower L/D values these artefacts are present but are washed out. It is expected that routine experiments on IMAT will mostly use L/D ratios of 250 or 500. Monte Carlo simulations with narrow wavelength bands, as well as calculations with samples have been performed showing dependences of the illuminated area as a function of wavelength. These results will be presented elsewhere.

Fig. 5. Simulated IMAT diffraction patterns. 2theta angles: Low-angle (10-30°); Low-angle 2 (35-55°); 90 degree (75105°); High-angle (115-135°); Backscattering (140-170°); wavelength band 0.7-6.7| À. Hie simulations were performed on a cylindrical powder sample of 8 mm diameter and with a beam width of 4x20 mm (width x height). No radial collimator was used in the simulations. The Bragg peak list was composed of Zr peaks (< 3À) and arbitrary Bragg peak positions and structure factors (>3À).

Fig. 6. Intensity distributions on the imaging detector for three different piiiliole sizes of 10, 20. and 40 mm with corresponding L/D ratios and neutron fluxes 3>. The coloured maps show the neutron intensity as a function of horizontal and vertical position on a 200x200 mnr screen. For each image, the horizontal intensity profile through the centre screen (y=0 mm) is displayed on the right. Note: the intensity at the border of the screen is about 50% of the intensity in the centre of the screen.

Table 2. Expected performance parameters of IMAT.


Wavelength resolution AM= 0.7 % (at 3 Â)

Integral neutron flux [n/cm2/sec] 4 x 107 (L/D: 250)


Integral neutron flux on sample [n/cm2/sec] 2-107

Single frame d-spacing range: (20 deg) (45 deg) (90 deg) (125 deg) (155 deg) 2 - 20 0.9 - 8.9 0.5 - 4.8 0.4 - 3.8 0.35 - 3.5 Â

Horizontal divergence <0.2 degrees

Spectral resolution Ad/d =0.7 % (at 3 Â and at 90 degrees)

Strain resolution 70 microstrain

3.3. Staged construction of the beamline

IMAT will be built in two stages. In stage-1 two imaging cameras will be available: a gated CCD camera with a maximum field-of-view of 20x20 cm2, and a time-of-flight (TOF) capable high-resolution pixel detector with a field of view of about 30x30 mm2. Two pixellated diffraction detector arrays at 90 degrees, covering ~1 sr (4 m2) will be installed for diffraction analysis (Figure 7). At this stage IMAT will enable imaging applications (white-beam and energy-selective radiography; tomography), phase and strain analyses. IMAT will excel in energy-selective imaging application, such as high-resolution Bragg-edge transmission imaging, taking advantage of the pulsed source.

Fig. 7. Outline design of the IMAT stage-1 sample area. The instrument includes: imaging cameras (CCD, Bragg edge detector); a sample positioning system; diffraction detectors at 90 degrees. Note: radial collimators in front of the 90-degree diffraction detectors are not in scale.

Fig. 8. Outline design of the IMAT stage-2 sample area.

In this first stage the instrument comprises the following further components and features:

• Beam monitors for diagnostics and normalization;

• Pinhole selector for five apertures: range of L/D values from 125 to 2000;

• Fast experimental shutter for minimizing neutron exposure when no data are collected;

• Adjustable jaws and slit system to vary the size of the incoming neutron beam;

• Heavy duty Sample Positioning System (max: 1.5 t); including a tomography rotation stage;

• Radial collimator sets (for the two 90-degree banks); gauge volumes: 1, 2, 5 mm.

The CCD system will be used for white-beam radiography and tomography measurements as well as for energy-selective applications for contrast enhancement and contrast variation. This camera system is being developed in collaboration with CNR Messina, Italy [11]. A TOF-capable imaging system is required to take full advantage of the pulsed source for effective Bragg edge transmission imaging. A detector based on microchannel plates (MCP) developed by Space Science Department, Berkeley, USA, is currently envisaged as IMAT Bragg edge imaging detector [12].

The final stage of the construction of IMAT will be the installation of further diffraction detectors at forward and backscattering angles, bringing the detector coverage to a total of 4 sr (Figure 8). This will enable in-situ texture studies in combination with phase, strain, and imaging analyses at non-ambient sample conditions. The additional detectors will significantly extend the d-spacing range to 0.35-20 A (see table 2). Also, the extra angular coverage will permit in-situ texture analyses during tensile testing and/or temperature treatment for a single sample orientation.

4. Applications

Many of the potential applications on IMAT are based on work already performed at ISIS on the ENGIN-X beamline which predominantly serves the engineering science community. Neutron imaging will add analysis possibilities to these material science projects, ascertained by imaging studies at existing neutron imaging facilities [13-16] but also by proof-of-concept studies of energy selective imaging. On IMAT energy-resolved imaging will be based on time-of-flight (TOF) methods in order to measure 2D radiographies as a function of wavelength. With a TOF-capable high-resolution imaging detector (one that measures the full or a large part of the frame between successive pulses with sufficiently small histogramming bin-width or timing resolution) a multitude of radiographies at different wavelengths will be recorded simultaneously and energy-selective techniques be effectively exploited at a pulsed source. The characteristic Bragg edge features in metal samples can then be effectively mapped allowing diffraction-enhanced imaging, contrast variation as well as high resolution imaging of strain and texture [17-19]. High-resolution Bragg edge analysis may offer the potential for full component strain evaluation via novel strain tomography techniques [20].

IMAT will enable a broad range of imaging and diffraction applications, covering a range of scientific and technological areas such as:

• Aerospace & transportation: e.g. structural integrity; lifetime and failure analysis; novel welding technology, fatigue properties; novel joining methods; composite reinforcements;

• Civil engineering: e.g. integrity of load-bearing structures, reinforced concrete; water repellent agents/ rising of liquids in concrete; void and density distributions in concrete;

• Power generation: e.g. novel alloys; structural integrity of steam pipework / pressure vessels / hydrogen embrittlement in Zr welds, residual stresses of casts/weldings and weld repairs;

• Fuel and fluid cell technology: e.g. functioning and in-situ testing of gas pressure flow cells / fluid cells; water/lithium distributions in fuel cells/batteries; blockages, sediments;

• Earth sciences: e.g. deformation mechanisms in polymineralic rocks; water flow in porous media, mantle rheology, rock mechanics, spatial distribution of minerals;

• Archaeology & heritage science: e.g. inorganic materials characterisation; non-destructive characterisation and multi-component analysis of archaeological objects and objects of art; ancient fabrication techniques;

• Biomaterials and soft matter, e.g. agriculture: water uptake in plants and soil; water and hydrogen distributions in polymers and porous media;

5. Conclusions and outlook

The instrument is currently under construction and detailed designs of the components are currently completed. It is envisaged that the instrument will start operation in 2015 with an imaging camera and two diffraction detector banks at 90 degrees in place. The instrument will benefit from large single- and double frame bandwidths of 6 A and 12 A, respectively. The diffraction resolution Ad/d at 90 degree will be <0.7 %, the expected strain resolution is about 70 | s. The energy-resolution for imaging will be better than 0.8%. The special features of IMAT are:

• Energy selective imaging: energy bands can be easily selected via the time of flight method for the full field of view of 20x20 cm2. By making use of its structural sensitivity energy-selective imaging will be used for contrast enhancement, and for mapping of strains and texture.

• Combination of transmission (imaging) and diffraction data;

• Residual strain and spatially resolved texture analyses at non-ambient conditions.

• Ample sample space and preparation areas for large samples and bulky sample environment equipment;

IMAT will provide measurement possibilities for large samples up to 1.5 tonnes using a heavy-duty high-precision sample positioning system. The instrument will offer in-situ analyses under loading conditions and at non-ambient temperatures with a choice of sample environment equipment. IMAT will provide sample preparation and storage areas appropriate for large and bulky engineering and cultural heritage samples. The instrument will be built to be as versatile and flexible as possible to enable swift interchanges between the measurement modes and to allow for future upgrades of neutron imaging technology. IMAT will complement the materials analysis capabilities of ENGIN-X at ISIS, with IMAT being suited for in-situ high-intensity applications requiring medium spectral resolution, and the latter being the high-resolution strain scanning instrument. An important feature of IMAT will be "tomography-driven" diffraction and instrument control [21] which will enable user-friendly operation of the instrument to study structurally and geometrically complex samples.


We are grateful to R.L.S. Coleman (ISIS) for producing the initial outline design of IMAT.


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