On February 8, 2021, on the Day of Russian Science, PIK neutron reactor was put into power operation at the National Research Center Kurchatov Institute in St Petersburg Institute of Nuclear Physics (PNPI) with president of the Kurchatov Institute Mikhail Kovalchuk and ROSATOM Director General Alexey Likhachev attending the launch.
The unique features of neutron radiation make it a universal method for interdisciplinary research in biology, materials science, medicine, the study of archaeological artefacts, etc. Neutron scattering techniques are already used in many areas of natural science, but their use in the adatomic studies and high molecular weight structures in biology, biophysics and condensed matter physics is one of the most dynamically developing. Thus, a neutron source gives science in any country a unique research tool. A mega-installation such as a neutron or synchrotron light source is designed not just for a single institute, but also for the joint use of all scientists from Russian and foreign scientific centers.
The Russian government made a decision to create an international center for neutron research (ICNR) in the field of nuclear physics, medicine, materials science, nanobiotechnologies at the site of the Kurchatov Institute. Some of the experimental stations are being created jointly with German colleagues. The commissioning of the PIK research reactor complex will provide a significant increase in Russia’s share in the world markets for the provision of high-tech services for the use of neutron and nuclear methods in the development of new materials, products and technologies, including for biomedicine. The new complex will make it possible to carry out large-scale neutron research not only by scientists from Russia and the CIS countries, but also from other foreign countries. In today’s scientific landscape of Russia, the commissioning of the PIK reactor will further strengthen our country’s leading position in the field of megascience.