QUOKKA - Small-Angle Neutron Scattering


Instrument Scientists:
Dr Elliot Gilbert
Dr Katy Wood
Dr Chris Garvey
Dr Jitendra Mata
Dr Chun-Ming Wu

Quokka instrument image

  More Information on QUOKKA:


To contact the Instrument Enclosure Phone 9717 3238

To contact the Instrument Cabin Phone 9717 7040

See all the instruments at the Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering

QUOKKA - An Introduction 

In many ways our most important beam instrument at OPAL is the QUOKKA small-angle scattering instrument.  It is the largest (40-m long after the guide bunker) and was a major driver for getting the high-performance cold source into OPAL. It has the highest throughput of users, and covers the broadest range of scientific areas.


Small-angle scattering is a powerful technique for looking at sizes and structures of objects on the nanoscale (1-10nm), like polymer molecules, biological molecules, defect structures in metals and ceramics, pores in rocks, magnetic clusters, magnetic flux lines in type-II superconductors and so on.  ANSTO has both X-ray and neutron small-angle scattering adjacent to each other, and the advantage of neutrons is primarily for soft matter where the contrast-variation method (replacing hydrogen with deuterium) can be used. 


In addition, it is useful for magnetic problems and ones in which large samples must be used.  In many ways, small-angle scattering is complementary to electron microscopy while direct imaging is the domain of electron microscopy, SAXS and SANS can provide particle sizes, shapes and distributions averaged over a complete macroscopic sample.  Small-angle scattering is rarely able to solve a problem on its own, and is typically used in conjunction with a number of other techniques.


SANS was crucial in showing that polymer molecules are self-avoiding random walks (Flory's prediction - Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1974), and that Type-II superconductors allow magnetic flux to penetrate, forming a lattice of magnetic vortices (Abrikosov's prediction - Nobel Prize in Physics, 2003).  Other major achievements have been understanding viscosity modifiers in lubricants, solving the coarse structure of the ribosome, understanding the nature and role of particulate additives to tyres, and the porosity of sedimentary rocks in oil and gas reservoirs.


QUOKKA is very similar in the spirit to the 40-metre D22 instrument at Institut Laue Langevin in Grenoble, France and the 30-metre instruments on NG3 and NG7 at the National Institute for Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg in the USA.


More recently, user demand for small-angle neutron scattering has been such that two further small-angle neutron scattering instruments have been funded and are in or close to user operation:  the KOOKABURRA ultra-SANS instrument (operating) and the BILBY time-of-flight SANS instrument (in commissioning).  We also have two in-house SAXS instruments: a pinhole-geometry Bruker-SAXS based on a rotating anode source, and the simpler Hecus-SAXS based on a micro-focus tube source.