The NCNR management defined the mission of the laboratory as follows:
The mission of the NIST Center for Neutron Research is to assure the availability of neutron measurement capabilities to meet the needs of U.S. researchers from industry, university, and other Government agencies. Toward this end, the NCNR operates the NIST Research Reactor cost effectively while assuring the safety of the staff and general public; develops neutron measurement techniques, develops new applications of these techniques, and applies them to science and engineering problems of national interest; and serves the needs of researchers from industry, university, and government by operating the research facilities of the Center as a national facility.
NCNR continues to be a well-run facility. It consistently and reliably provides a high flux of neutrons to an evolving suite of high-quality instruments. There is a substantial and well-satisfied external user community. The new organization structure (the NCNR director now reports directly to the NIST director) demonstrates NIST’s recognition of the strength of the facility and allows a more efficient means for the facility to interact synergistically with the broad NIST complex. An enhanced coupling of NCNR to NIST organizational units is apparent since the last review. The substantial expansion of the guide hall, complemented by the construction of a new set of instruments, was partially a result of the strong endorsement of NCNR by the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s Interagency Working Group on Neutron Science.2 As detailed by that group, the United States has been neutron poor in the recent past. With the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) coming on line and the NCNR expansion, this situation is markedly improving. By continuing to serve the broad neutron scattering community, NCNR is likely to remain an important neutron source and knowledge base for years to come.
The SNS is coming on line now with only three instruments (two reflectometers and one back-scattering instrument) and will take years to be fully operational at 1.4 MW. It is imperative that the user community continue to grow and be served by the existing facilities in order to take advantage of the SNS at full operation. In addition, the impending loss of neutron sources Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Internal Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne National Laboratory will only be offset by the SNS. The United States is neutron poor and needs all the facilities operating well to serve the U.S. science community. NCNR and the expansion are important for maintaining the research capacity and for providing neutrons to the broad scientific community.