The value of neutrons for crystallographic characterization was one of the driving forces for the construction of the NBSR reactor.
Two Department of Defense guest scientist groups that started work at the NBSR in the early 1970s drove interest in use of neutron diffraction for engineering measurements.
The Radiochemical Analysis Section at NBS was established in 1963, even before the NBSR became available.
The use of neutron beams for chemical analysis was pioneered at the NBSR.
Stimulated by the SANS results emerging from Europe, NIST scientists Charles Han and Bernard Mozer set up a rudimentary SANS instrument at a thermal beam port (BT-5) at the NBSR.
High resolution SANS measurements, utilizing cold (long wavelength) neutrons and pinhole collimation over long distances, became possible for the first time in the United States when the neutron guide hail and cold neutron source were installed at the NBSR in the late 1980s.
In 1987 Charles Majkrzak and Sushil Satija started doing neutron reflectivity by converting the BT-4 spectrometer at NBSR to obtain very narrow ribbon like neutron beams required for these measurements.