Standard Article

Single-Crystal Neutron Diffraction

Neutron Techniques

  1. Thomas F. Koetzle1,
  2. Garry J. McIntyre2

Published Online: 12 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/0471266965.com106.pub2

Characterization of Materials

Characterization of Materials

How to Cite

Koetzle, T. F. and McIntyre, G. J. 2012. Single-Crystal Neutron Diffraction. Characterization of Materials. 1–14.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Suffolk County Community College, Selden, NY, USA

  2. 2

    Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Lucas Heights, NSW, Australia

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 12 OCT 2012


Single-crystal neutron diffraction allows determination of the distribution of nuclear scattering density in crystalline structures. It is especially suited to the location of hydrogen and characterization of hydrogen bonding in structures ranging from ice to small proteins, to the determination of magnetic structures, and to experiments on crystals under extreme conditions of temperature, magnetic field, and pressure. The principal requirement is a good quality single crystal of volume 0.1–10 mm3, although ongoing instrumental developments, including the introduction of large area detectors and Laue methods, are continually decreasing the lower limit. There are currently over 30 dedicated single-crystal neutron diffractometers at steady-state reactor and neutron spallation sources worldwide, accessible via peer-reviewed proposal mechanisms. The experimental and analysis techniques are well established and are very similar to those used for single-crystal x-ray diffraction.


  • neutron diffraction;
  • single crystal;
  • crystal structure;
  • magnetic structure;
  • hydrogen bonding