NIST logo
Bookmark and Share

Measurement of the Neutron Magnetic  Dipole Moment Using Schwinger Scattering


This experiment will measure the neutron interaction with an atomic field (also known as Schwinger scattering) inside a silicon crystal in order to determine the value of the neutron magnetic dipole moment. A successful Schwinger scattering experiment provides "proof of principle" for measuring of the neutron electric dipole moment (EDM) using a similar technique. This technique is completely different from standard neutron EDM experiments which use UCN in high magnetic fields thus providing a different prospective on systematic errors of EDM experiments. Previous attempts done by Shull and others did not produce the results consistent with theoretical predictions.


Schwinger scattering is caused by the interaction between the neutron's magnetic dipole moment (MDM) and the atomic electric field inside a silicon crystal. The atomic electric field with a magnitude of 108 V/cm induces a tiny magnetic field in the rest frame of the moving neutron and thus a torque that rotates the neutron polarization by a very small angle (about 3.2x10-4 radians). To magnify this rotation a neutron beam is Bragg reflected down a narrow slot cut from perfect silicon. At each of consecutive reflection a magnetic field will rotate of the neutron polarization by π/2 in order for the Schwinger scattering effect to accumulate. For 135 successive reflections off of the (220)-planes of our crystal a 3.84 Å neutron will produce a small but measurable total rotation of 0.043 radians.

The figure in the top right shows the experiment setup. Neutrons are polarized via a neutron supermirror polarizer. Afterwards the neutrons’ polarization direction is rotated 90 degrees using a copper precession coil before it enters the slotted crystal. Here the
(220)-planes of the silicon crystal is oriented perpendicular to the slot wall. A constant, uniform magnetic field of 17G is provided by four coils. Two additional pairs of coils of cancel any external magnetic fields. Schwinger interaction will rotate the neutron polarization creating measureable net change in the neutron polarization along beam direction. The neutron polarization is analyzed by a second supermirror polarizer located at the end of the experimental apparatus.

MBM experiment setup

End Date:


Lead Organizational Unit:



Neutron Physics Group

Muhammad Arif

NIST Associates: 

Murry Peshkin
Argonne National Laboratory

Donald Koetke
Valparaiso University


Muhammad Arif

Michael G. Huber