Letter | Published:

Imaging and focusing of neutrons by a zone plate

Naturevolume 287pages313314 (1980) | Download Citation



The use of refractive lenses for long-wavelength neutrons,although possible1, is severely limited by the fact that the refractive index differs only very slightly from unity (forexample, n − 1 = 2.3 × 10−4for quartz at λ = 20 Å). However, the fact thatonly a relatively thin layer of material is needed to produce an optical path difference of half a wavelength (for example, 2.4 µm of Cu at λ = 20 Å) led us to propose2 previously that neutrons could be focused by diffraction froma phase grating of variable spacing; this is , in fact, a type of zone plate. Zone plates, first described by Soret3, have been used satisfactorily over a large part of the electromagneticspectrum4–6. We now report the successful focusing and imaging of a slow neutron beam by means of a Fresnel zone plate8.

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  1. 1

    Gähler, R., Kalus, J. & Mampe, W. J. Phys. E13, 546 (1980).

  2. 2

    Klein, A. G. & Opat, G. I. in Neutron Interferometry (eds Bonse, U. & Rauch, H.) (Oxford University Press, 1980).

  3. 3

    Soret, J. L. Poggendorff's Annalen (1875).

  4. 4

    Andrews, Optics of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, 276 (Prentice-Hall,New Jersey, 1960).

  5. 5

    Wood, R. W. Phil. Mag. 45, 511 (1898).

  6. 6

    Niemann, B., Rudolph, D. & Schmahl, G. Optics Commun. 12, 160 (1974).

  7. 7

    Lord Rayleigh, Encyclopaedia Britannica 9th edn, Vol XXIV, 421 (Edinburgh, 1880).

  8. 8

    Benyon, T. D. & Pink, A. G. Nature 283, 749 (1980).

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  1. School of Physics, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia, 3052

    • P. D. Kearney
    • , A. G. Klein
    •  & G. I. Opat
  2. Institut Laue-Langevin, 38042, Grenoble Cedex, France

    • R. Gähler


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