The unique PEARL measuring instrument improves the energy materials research at TU Delft

24 September 2015 by Webredactie Communication

Materials research has led to significant technological progress in the last few decades. Society now needs technological solutions for renewable energy, and new storage and conversion materials must play an important role in these solutions. In order to be able to understand and develop these types of materials, the TU Delft Reactor Institute has constructed PEARL, a neutron powder diffractometer.

Atomic resolution

PEARL is pre-eminently suitable for accurately locating lithium in batteries. The atomic resolution of PEARL will be used for storage materials for hydrogen and ammonia, and magnetocaloric material for energy conversion. PEARL is a unique instrument in the Netherlands and will also be used by researchers outside TU Delft.   

Neutron diffraction is an important technique for studying the atomic structure deep underneath the surface of materials and is very sensitive to elements such as hydrogen and lithium in energy materials. The technique is also suited to fields of research such as zeolites, thermoelectrics and ferroelectrics, and fixed material solar cells. The opening of PEARL was therefore celebrated today, Thursday 24 September 2015, with a scientific workshop given by and for future users from various fields of research.

World-class instrument

Due to a new smart design, PEARL can be compared to the best neutron powder diffractometers in the world, even those with a neutron source that is ten times as powerful. During the past few months, the performance of the instrument was tested with new battery and magnetocaloric materials from TU Delft, new catalysts from TU Eindhoven, and thermoelectrics from the University of Groningen.

Tribute to Dr. Hugo M. Rietveld

Today the chairman of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), Prof. Jos Engelen, paid tribute to Dr. Hugo M. Rietveld during the opening workshop of PEARL in recognition of his global scientific contribution to crystallography. The Rietveld Refinement method is used every day by hundreds of scientists to analyse powder diffraction data - which PEARL, for example, generates - and to translate this data into the 3D atomic crystal structure of materials. Insight into the structure at this atomic level allows new batteries, fuel cells and related items to be designed. Dr. Hugo Rietveld (83) is one of the most prominent crystallographers of the 20th century. 


PEARL was realised within the OYSTER programme (Optimised Yield – for Science, Technology & Education – of Radiation), for which TU Delft received a grant from the Dutch government in 2012.

Further information
For further information please contact Dr. Lambert van Eijck, researcher TU Delft tel. +31 6 8165 61 84 or or Wendy Batist, press officer TU Delft tel. + 31 15 – 27 884 99 or

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