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(Adopted by Council on April 19, 1997)
The American Physical Society recognizes the scientific importance of neutron scattering science as a key area of endeavor for physics, chemistry, materials and biomedical research. For many decades, the United States was preeminent in neutron scattering science with state-of-the-art reactor and spallation neutron facilities. Today we have lost that preeminence and could well cease to be a major player in this field -- in spite of its centrality to fundamental scientific studies as well as many areas of science important to national needs.
The critical need for modern neutron scattering facilities has been well documented and recommendations have been made to upgrade US capabilities, but the needed developments have not come to fruition. If our neutron scattering facilities are not enhanced soon, this field will suffer damage to its research programs that will take decades to rebuild. As US leadership is lost, important technologies that depend upon the knowledge gained from neutron scattering studies -- including the development of new polymers, superconductors and chemical catalysts and the use of neutron probes to study the stresses and impurities in materials that affect the performance and safety of structures such as bridges and aircraft -- are increasingly at risk. In addition, we are no longer able to supply our growing needs for neutron-produced radiopharmaceuticals.
The Council of the American Physical Society stresses the critical importance of neutron scattering to a wide spectrum of scientific and technical fields and urges the US government to proceed rapidly with the renewal and development of national reactor and spallation neutron facilities.