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A temperature-controlled electric field sample environment for small-angle neutron scattering experiments

Hayward, Dominic W.; Magro, Germinal; Hörmann, Anja; Prévost, Sylvain; Schweins, Ralf; Richardson, Robert M.; Gradzielski, Michael

A new sample environment is introduced for the study of soft matter samples in electric fields using small-angle neutron scattering instruments. The sample environment is temperature controlled and features external electrodes, allowing standard quartz cuvettes to be used and conducting samples or samples containing ions to be investigated without the risk of electrochemical reactions occurring at the electrodes. For standard 12.5 mm quartz cuvettes, the maximum applied field is 8 kV/cm, and the applied field may be static or alternating (up to 10 kHz for 8 kV/cm and up to 60 kHz for 4 kV/cm). The electric fields within the sample are calculated and simulated under a number of different conditions, and the capabilities of the setup are demonstrated using a variety of liquid crystalline samples. Measurements were performed as a function of temperature and time spent in the electric field. Finally, the advantages, drawbacks, and potential optimization of the sample environment are discussed with reference to applications in the fields of complex soft matter, biology, and electrorheology.
Published in: Review of Scientific Instruments, 10.1063/5.0040675, American Institute of Physics