The application of neutrons to study the crystal structures of powdered minerals is of growing popularity among earth scientists. This has just recently been demonstrated at a workshop on Neutrons at the Frontiers of Earth Sciences and Environments (NESE) (Rinaldi and Schober 2006).

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There are a number of physical reasons to study minerals with neutrons. They are related to the fundamental properties of neutrons regarding their interaction with matter (Parise 2006a, this volume). The major points are the isotope specific scattering lengths and absorption cross-sections of the neutron, being independent of the number of electrons. The...

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