Boris Khaykovich

Boris Khaykovich
Group Leader, Neutron Beam Applications


PhD, Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel 1999
MS, Chemical Physics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel 1993

Research Interests

Boris Khaykovich is an experimental physicist, studying material degradation phenomena in nuclear power reactors, as well as magnetic materials and superconductors. He is also developing advanced instrumentation for neutron and X-ray scattering methods for materials science.

Neutron focusing optics and guides

Neutron scattering is one of the most useful methods for studying the structure and dynamics of matter. Lacking electrical charge and interacting with atomic nuclei over a short range only, neutrons penetrate deep inside materials. As a result, neutron-scattering measurements can reveal, for example, atomic coordinates in crystal lattices, the molecular conformation of polymers, and structures of complex fluids. However, the penetrating power of neutrons makes focusing neutron beams very challenging. The toolbox of neutron optics is very limited compared to modern optical instruments for visible light and X-rays, which use a variety of focusing devices, including lenses, zone plates, and mirrors. We have pioneered and demonstrated novel neutron focusing optics based on axisymmetric grazing-incidence focusing mirrors (often referred to as Wolter optics) for neutrons, inspired by their successful use in X-ray astronomy. The mirrors have the potential to turn pinhole-camera-like neutron instruments into much more powerful microscopes.

Another project is the development of new ways of manufacturing neutron guides, which are long mirrors used to transport thermal neutrons between the source and samples at neutron research facilities.

Materials for nuclear power reactors

Dr. Khaykovich is interested in various aspects of degradation of materials used in power reactors, such as structural alloys, graphite, etc. He is using neutron-scattering and synchrotron X-ray methods to study hydrogen retention in structural alloys in light-water reactors. Another project is materials degradation in proposed molten-salt reactors, where materials have to withstand intense neutron and gamma fluxes, and high temperatures, reaching 700 °C and beyond.

Neutron and x-ray imaging

Neutrons are especially sensitive to light elements such as hydrogen. Consequently, neutron radiography is used to measure water distribution in roots of growing plants or in very thin membranes enclosed inside working fuel cells. Based on our development of the neutron focusing optics, a novel neutron microscope is under construction at NIST Center for Neutron Research. The microscope will allow high-resolution neutron imaging studies of engineering materials and devices, such as irradiated nuclear fuel, fuel cells and batteries, and magnetic materials.

At the same time, an X-ray microtomography instrument is being developed at the novel compact X-ray source, which will be operational at MIT in 2016.

Recent publications and patents


A new generation of neutron focusing optics, B. Khaykovich, M. Gubarev, D. Liu, B. D. Ramsey, and D. E. Moncton, SPIE Newsroom (4 February 2014). DOI: 10.1117/2.1201401.005243 read


Compact x-ray source based on burst-mode inverse Compton scattering at 100 kHz, Graves, W. S. et al. Phys. Rev. Spec. Top. - Accel. Beams 17, (2014).

Resta, G., Khaykovich, B. & Moncton, D., Nested Kirkpatrick–Baez (Montel) optics for hard X-rays. J. Appl. Crystallogr. 48, 558–564 (2015).

Demonstration of a novel focusing small-angle neutron scattering instrument equipped with axisymmetric mirrors, D. Liu, B. Khaykovich, M.V. Gubarev, J.L. Robertson, L. Crow, B.D. Ramsey, and D.E. Moncton, Nature Communications 4, 2556 (2013); doi: 10.1038/ncomms3556 Highlighted by Materials Research Society, MIT News, and other professional societies (AM&P e-news,, etc.).

Demonstration of achromatic cold-neutron microscope utilizing axisymmetric focusing mirrors, D. Liu, D. Hussey, M. V. Gubarev, B. D. Ramsey, D. Jacobson, M. Arif, D. E. Moncton, and B. Khaykovich,. Applied Physics Letters 102, 183508 (2013); doi: 10.1063/1.4804178.

D. Liu, M. V. Gubarev, G. Resta, B. D. Ramsey, D. E. Moncton, and B. Khaykovich, Axisymmetric Grazing-Incidence Focusing Optics for Small-Angle Neutron Scattering, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A. 686 (2012) 145. 

From x-ray telescopes to neutron scattering: Using axisymmetric mirrors to focus a neutron beam, B. Khaykovich, M. V. Guvarev, Y. Bagdasarova, B. D. Ramsey, and D. Moncton, Nucl. Instr. Meth. A 631 98-104 (2011); doi:10.1016/j.nima.2010.11.110.

Structure of cholesterol helical ribbons and self-assembling biological springs, B. Khaykovich, C. Hossain, A. Lomakin, J. McManus, D. E. Moncton, and G. B. Benedek, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104, 9656-9660 (2007). doi: 10.1073/pnas.0702967104 Highlighted in the 2007 Annual Report of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.

Field-induced transition between magnetically disordered and ordered phases in underdoped La2-xSrx CuO4, B. Khaykovich, S. Wakimoto, R. J. Birgeneau, M. A. Kastner, Y. S. Lee, P. Smeibidl, P. Vorderwisch, and K. Yamada,. Physical Review B (Rapid Communications) 71, 220508(R) (2005).

Structural transition in NaxCoO2 with x near 0.75 due to Na rearrangement, Q. Huang, B. Khaykovich, F. C. Chou, J. H. Cho, J. W. Lynn, and Y. S. Lee, Physical Review B 70, 134115 (2004).


B. Khaykovich, D. E. Moncton, M. V. Gubarev, B. D. Ramsey, D. E. Engelhaupt, “Compact Neutron Imaging System Using Axisymmetric Mirrors”, Patent No.: US8,735,844 B1 (05/27/2014).

W. S. Graves, et al. “COMPACT X-RAY SOURCE FOR CD-SAXS” (filed 04/03/2015)

Recent Synergistic activities

Co-chair of the Workshop on the Second Target Station at the Spallation Neutron Source (2015).

Vice-chair (2015) and chair (2016) of HFIR/SNS User Group Executive Committee, representing users of neutron-scattering facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.