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A small-angle neutron scattering environment for in-situ observation of chemical processes

Hayward, Dominic W.; Chiappisi, Leonardo; Prévost, Sylvain; Schweins, Ralf; Gradzielski, Michael

FG Physikalische Chemie / Molekulare Materialwissenschaften

A new sample environment for the observation of ongoing chemical reactions is introduced for small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments which enables structural changes to be followed continuously across a wide Q-range in response to changes in the chemical environment. The approach is demonstrated and validated by performing single and multiple potentiometric titrations on an aqueous anionic surfactant solution (oligo-oxyethylene alkylether carboxylic acid in D2O) with addition times varying from 1s to 2h. It is shown that the continuous flow set-up offers considerable advantages over classical ‘static’ measurements with regards to sample throughput, compositional precision and the ability to observe fast structural transitions. Finally, the capabilities and ongoing optimisation of the sample environment are discussed with reference to potential applications in the fields of biology, colloidal systems and complex soft matter.