The fundamental properties of the neutron make it a powerful tool for Earth science investigations because neutrons provide information that cannot be obtained by any other research method. This is because neutrons are magnetically sensitive, nondestructive, and sensitive to the lighter elements, such as hydrogen. They provide a unique, nondestructive method for obtaining information ranging from Ångstrom-scale atomic structures (and related motions) to micron-scale material strain, stress, and texture, and even up to meso-scale porous matrices and defects in materials and functional components. In this article, we introduce neutrons and their unique properties, neutron production and sources, and provide an overview of the different types of neutron methods applicable to the Earth sciences.

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