General Lab Information

All programs

Complex Scattering

Uncovering and revealing the nano- to mesoscale structure and complex dynamics of heterogeneous systems under in situ conditions

The Complex Scattering Program at Brookhaven Lab’s National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) enables researchers to investigate the structure and dynamics of composite and complex materials. The program offers advanced x-ray scattering techniques under in situ conditions, taking full advantage of NSLS-II’s ultrahigh brightness and coherence. The program’s scientific focus is to study and optimize the relationship between function, structure, and dynamics in complex materials, including films and fibers.

Program Beamlines


Inelastic X-ray Scattering

The IXS beamline is dedicated to studies on soft matter and biomolecular systems with mesoscopic complexity and inhomogeneity. IXS offers researchers ultrahigh resolution over an energy and momentum range that is ideally suited for investigating dynamic properties of materials, both of applied and fundamental interest, including single crystals, surfaces, thin films, confined liquids, and systems under extreme pressure and temperature.


Coherent Hard X-ray Scattering

The CHX beamline is dedicated to studies of nanoscale dynamics in materials using x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy (XPCS) with world-leading hard x-ray coherent flux and a state-of-the-art detection system for fast dynamics. CHX enables researchers to investigate nanoscale and mesoscale dynamics of complex materials on timescales ranging from below milliseconds to minutes or hours.


Complex Materials Scattering

The CMS beamline facilitates rational design and discovery of new functional materials by unraveling the relations between constituents, processing, structure, and properties. CMS provides in situ and high-throughput x-ray scattering capabilities for nanoscale and mesoscale characterization of bulk and interfacial structures of complex, hierarchical materials, including nanomaterials, soft matter, and biomolecular materials.


Soft Matter Interfaces

The SMI beamline enables the exploration of novel types of hierarchical ordering and heterogeneities in soft matter. SMI provides the rare range of tender to hard x-ray energies to study these materials at interfaces and in bulk using advanced small- and wide-angle x-ray scattering. The beamline’s flexible focusing scheme can produce a micron-size or a low-divergence beam, offering world-class performance for the study of membranes, polymers, liquids, liquid crystals, and biomaterials.


Integrated In situ and Resonant Hard X-ray Studies

The ISR beamline offers dedicated x-ray diffraction and scattering tools for investigating the physics of novel materials. Its scientific scope covers three areas: novel ordering phenomena, atomic structure of functional surfaces and interfaces, and growth and materials processes. ISR provides a flexible range of sample environments and will soon provide full control of the photon beam polarization.

This diffractometer at the Integrated In Situ and Resonant Hard X-ray Studies (ISR) beamline allows researchers to “see” the structure of a material by shooting highly focused x-rays at the sample and measuring how they diffract, or bounce off. The instrument also has two detectors. While one allows users to quickly survey the overall structure of a sample, the other gives a zoomed-in view of the material’s subtler details.

Beamline lead scientist Christie Nelson works with a diffractometer located at beamline 4-ID. The diffractometer allows imaging of a material's structure by measuring how highly focused x-rays diffract, or bounce off. The instrument offers researchers high precision when studying materials with unique structural, electronic, and magnetic characteristics. The instrument offers researchers high precision when studying materials with unique structural, electronic, and magnetic characteristics.

The CHX beamline acts like a high-speed camera with an extremely fast shutter, capable of taking “nanoscale movies” of motion within materials or biological samples. The combination of a high stability multi-circle diffractometer and a 15-meter long small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) table allows the measurement of sample material dynamics.

Brookhaven Lab members of the research team at the Inelastic X-ray Scattering (IXS) beamline. The circular track accommodates utility cables and allows the arm housing the detectors to move to different locations to select the scattering angle for the measurement.

The incredible resolution power of the Soft Matter Interface (SMI) beamline at NSLS-II reveals elusive features of materials that are otherwise invisible. Scientists study the high resolution data images produced by SMI on multiple screens to compare features.

Using x-ray scattering, scientists decipher the structural order of complex materials. In this case, they investigated an iron oxide using the Complex Materials Scattering (CMS) beamline at NSLS-II.

These data images are lovingly called ‘speckle’ patterns, and scientists measure them using ultrabright and coherent x-rays at the Coherent Hard X-ray Scattering (CHX) beamline.

This image shows the data of a so-called gazing incidence small angle s-ray scattering (GISAXS) experiment on a polymer that is thermally responsive and expands and contracts in water.

Our Partners

partner logos

NSLS-II partners with the "Consortium for Real-Time Studies of Thin Film Growth and Surface Processing", co-led by the University of Vermont, Boston University, and Stony Brook University, to provide instrumentation, training, and user support for the ISR beamline.

The Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) is a partner user on two x-ray scattering beamlines at NSLS-II, through which CFN will provide advanced structural probes, of molecular and nanoscale order, to the nanoscience user community. These beamlines provide complementary capabilities to explore complex parameter spaces (CMS beamline) and to perform frontier studies of nanomaterials (SMI beamline).