Muon spin resonance spectroscopy is less well known than other spin spectroscopic techniques such as NMR and EPR, but it provides researchers with an important tool that can be used to study a wide range of problems in physics and chemistry. The muon technique is complementary to other methods used in condensed matter research, such as neutron scattering, allowing researchers to probe materials on a unique timescale.
The muon technique involves implanting spin-polarised positive muons into a material. The decay positrons which emerge from a sample after muon implantation are detected, revealing information about the muons’ behaviour inside the material – particularly about how the muon polarisation changed within the sample. This, in turn, enables us to deduce information about the atomic-level properties of the material and to probe the system on a unique timescale. The knowledge gained leads to both fascinating new science and potential new solutions to industrial or global challenges.
One advantage of the technique is that muons are sensitive local probes of atomic magnetism which can often detect effects that are too weak to be seen by other methods.