ODIN, the multi-purpose imaging instrument at ESS, will be coupled to the brightest spallation neutron source ever built. This will enable first-time opportunities to explore live processes like 3D printing or the impacts of extreme environments like outer space. Uniquely, ODIN will be able to analyse a functional component while it is being printed. Also unique to ODIN is that a researcher can for the first time probe the same material at both high and low energy resolution settings in order to investigate complementary properties.
High energy resolution is necessary, for instance, to visualise and quantify the internal strains affecting a material when a sample is subjected to external stress. It can also help to predict locations of potential cracks, allowing researchers to determine the optimal geometry for a 3D-printed part.
This is the current state-of-the-art in neutron imaging practice, though ODIN will take high resolution measurements to an unprecedented level of detail due to the world-leading brightness of ESS. Meanwhile, ODIN will be the first neutron imaging instrument to accommodate low energy resolution experiments as well, which can provide local data, for example, on the material’s fatigue resistance and stiffness. This fuller picture is necessary for the aerospace industry to bring 3D-printed materials to space. Critically, ODIN will also allow researchers to create these views within minutes rather than the hours it would take at existing neutron facilities. And ODIN’s ability to probe these materials during testing, without damaging them, is a knock-on benefit for an industry whose complex creations are expensive.