The Interplay of Magnetism and Neutron Beams
Magnetism is a fundamental feature of matter because even materials commonly considered to be non-magnetic react to a magnetic field. This is why a magnetic field is often seen as a key parameter for experiments, besides temperature and pressure, at least when it is strong enough to have an effect.
Solid matter with magnetic properties is a general subject of fundamental and applied research. Experiments with neutrons and neutron scattering in particular are ideally suited to investigate these magnetic structures since neutrons have a magnetic moment, too. This is aligned like a compass needle by the magnetic field.
In fundamental physics research and also in material science, the combination of neutrons and strong magnetic fields within one experiment is therefore extremely beneficial. A class of materials with a high potential for application are for example novel superconductors: electric current flows through them without losses. The research goal is to steadily improve the properties of these conductors, i.e. develop conductors, which can create high magnetic fields by themselves and even continue to work if temperatures are not too low.
None of all the neutron research facilities worldwide permits neutron experiments at a magnetic field of more than 17 Tesla. Even below this value, exciting experiments can be performed; on the other hand, access to many interesting phenomena is blocked because these occur at higher fields only. Therefore, the High Field Magnet enables fields of up to 26 tesla.