Active User Meeting

The User Meeting 2021 showed that the users of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum are very active even without neutrons. From new materials for lithium-ion batteries and cancer therapeutics made by FRM II to a new deuteration service at the MLZ, the more than 130 talks and posters offered a lot of innovation. And despite the digital format, personal exchange was possible in the interactive "Ask the Instrument" sessions.

Like droplets, the avatars of the participants move through the Wonder Session "Ask the Instrument" and come together in talking circles. Here, too, the laws of gravity apparently apply: the more droplets there are in a circle, the more others they attract. © MLZ
As of now, MLZ users can apply for the new deuteration service of Forschungszentrum Jülich. Lisa Fruhner (r. below) presented the service for the first time at the User Meeting. © MLZ


374 participants registered for the Online User Meeting on December 7 and 8. A sporting 66 presentations and 67 posters as well as two interactive “Ask the Instrument” sessions were on the program. In partly seven parallel sessions, led by the MLZ scientific groups, internal and external researchers reported on their latest results. Charlotte Fritsch of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, for example, explained how neutron powder diffractometer measurements help improve commercial lithium ion batteries. Industrial customers of the research neutron source also had their say. For example, Gerhard van Wolfswinkel of Quirem Medical in the Netherlands, which uses neutrons at FRM II to produce radioactive therapeutics for liver tumors. 

Questions for the instruments

MLZ Director Prof. Dr. Martin Müller answered the justified questions of the user community in his plenary talk. He reported on the now successful extraction of the Cold Source and provided insight into the planning of the next reactor cycles. The participants could direct their questions to the instrument scientists in the two “Ask the Instrument” sessions and find out what effects the “thermal intermezzo” at the MLZ will now have on the measurements at the individual instruments. In a flash poll on Twitter, the participants chose this offer as the highlight of their first conference day.

Digital twins and remote access in times of pandemic

Christian Felder, among others, showed that the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum has more than done its homework in times of a pandemic. In his talk, he demonstrated live how the guest scientists can observe the measurement data in real time via remote access. And that’s not all: Some scientific instruments at MLZ have a digital twin. A kind of virtual copy that acts and measures just like its real brother. “This allows experiments to be simulated and prepared even more efficiently,” Christian Felder explained. And the digital twin offers advantages when distance is required: a student internship had already run successfully during the pandemic with the help of the digital twins.

New deuteration service

For the first time, the MLZ now also offers a service for deuterating samples. How sought-after this service will be was reflected in the numerous questions to the speaker Lisa Fruhner from the new deuteration laboratory at Forschungszentrum Jülich. She gave a live demonstration of how users can now apply for the service with their samples. Just as with beam time, there is also a peer review process of the applications submitted for deuteration. 

Prof. Dr. Tommy Nylander from Lund University and chairman of the MLZ User Committee summed up his enthusiasm in his closing talk: “The meeting shows that the MLZ user community is very active. And the time without neutrons and with pandemic was not a lost one because MLZ has developed so much.” But the next user meeting on 8 and 9December 2022 should please be in person again, he said.

Plenary talks at the User Meeting 2021:

MLZ – Status and Perspectives , Prof. Dr. Martin Müller, MLZ / Helmholtz-Zentrum Hereon

How Neutrons Help Understanding the Behavior of Adaptive Microgels, Prof. Dr. Walter Richtering, RWTHAachen

Water dynamics, polymer structure and relaxation in desalination membranes , Prof. Joao Cabral, Imperial College London

DAPHNE4NFDI: DAta from PHoton and Neutron Experiments for NFD , Dr. Wiebke Lohstroh, MLZ / TUM

Responding a challenge: remote access and digital twins at MLZ , Christian Felder, MLZ / Forschungszentrum Jülich

Updates on the JCNS Deuteration Service – First Call for Proposals , Lisa Fruhner, Forschungszentrum Jülich

Closing by the MLZ User Committee , Prof. Dr. Tommy Nylander, Lund University