The refractive properties of a homogeneous Material can be specified through two different functions:

  • RefractiveMaterial, based on the refractive index,
  • MaterialBySLD, based on the scattering length density (SLD).

RefractiveMaterial is equally suitable for X-rays or neutrons. However, it does not account for the wavelength dependence of the refractive index. This leads to incorrect results if there is too much spread in the incoming wavelength, as is regularly the case in neutron time-of-flight experiments.

MaterialBySLD is intended for neutron experiments with significant wavelength spread. Refractive indices as function of wavelength are computed internally from constant SLDs.

Material by refractive index

A Material can be created through

material = ba.RefractiveMaterial("name", delta, beta)

where name is the arbitrary name of the material associated with its complex refractive index $n = 1 - \delta + i\beta$.

Optionally, the constructor takes an additional magnetization argument.

Material by scattering length density

A Material can also be created through

<material> = ba.MaterialBySLD("name", sld_real, sld_imag)

Here sld_real and sld_imag are the real and imaginary parts of the material scattering length density (SLD) according to the following convention (Sears 1992):

$$SLD = sld_{real} - i \cdot sld_{imag}$$

In this convention, the imaginary part of the SLD must be nonnegative.

SLD units are inverse square angstroms: $ \overset{\circ}{A^{-2}} $.

Optionally, the constructor takes an additional magnetization argument.

Magnetization units are ampere per meter: $ A/m $.

SLD values for a wide variety of materials can be calculated with numerous online SLD-calculators, e.g. these ones:

The first of these returns values in inverse square angstroms, which are also the input units for MaterialBySLD. Thus the SLD values found with the calculator can be directly copied and pasted into a BornAgain script.

Default = Vacuum

Both RefractiveMaterial and MaterialBySLD can be created with empty constructors:

material = ba.RefractiveMaterial()
# or
material = ba.MaterialBySLD()

In this case the “default” material is created, i.e. a material with the name vacuum, zero SLD/refractive index and zero magnetization.

Restrictions and Limitations

Although MaterialBySLD and RefractiveMaterial are interchangeable in the case of neutron experiments with fixed wavelength, they must not be used together in one sample.

MaterialBySLD does not account for causes of damping other than nuclear absorption. In particular, incoherent and inelastic scattering are neglected. Usually, such extra damping would change the imaginary part of the refractive index only little compared with the real part; neglecting it therefore should have no big effect upon simulation results.