Beam Line Centre (BLC)

Beam Line Centre

Radiation-based techniques used by the Beam Line Centre at Necsa are categorised into diffraction and imaging.

Beam time at the relevant facilities is made available to users from within the South African National System of Innovation (NSI) as well as international users, based on the scientific and technological merit of submitted project proposals. Proprietary industrial projects are also welcomed.

A wide range of scientific disciplines can benefit from beam time on these radiation facilities, which includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Biological and life sciences
  • Agricultural sciences
  • Catalyses
  • Crystallography (Organic and Inorganic chemistry)
  • Energy storage and conversion materials
  • Engineering applications
  • Geosciences
  • Magnetism
  • Nanomaterials
  • Palaeontology and heritage sciences

Research into the following thematic areas is encouraged as outlined in the Department of Science and Innovation’s Revised Strategic Plan for 2020 – 2025 as well as the Decadal Plan:

  • Climate change and the Circular Economy • Education for the future • Future of Society • ICTs and Smart Systems • High-technology industrialisation • Nutrition security • Water security • Health innovation • Sustainable energy


The Diffraction facilities at Necsa are unique on the African continent with it being able to offer both X-ray and neutron diffraction-based investigations at one institution. These techniques provide fundamental insight into the crystallographic and/or magnetic ordering in materials that are of value to fields such as materials science, engineering (mechanical, metallurgical), chemistry, physics and geological sciences.

Diffraction techniques are based on the Bragg principle of constructive inference of the wave properties of neutrons and X-ray, shown schematically in this diagram.



Imaging uses neutron and X-ray radiation as non-destructive probes to investigate objects and materials at the micron scale for pure and applied research.

Radiography techniques are very sensitive to density variations in samples that lead to intensity differences in the transmitted neutron or X-ray beams, to form a “shadow image” as shown schematically in this diagram.


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