Proposal Types

Beam time on the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) instruments is granted through a proposal submission process. HFIR and SNS offer two modes of access and five types of proposals to meet research needs and best utilize instruments and resources. Please review the description for each proposal type to determine which is best suited for your research.

For Industrial research, visit the Industrial Applications Program webpage.

Access Mode Proposal Type Who can apply Duration Available Instruments Who reviews and approves?
Proposal Call General User All Single cycle All External Peer Review and Internal Science Management
Collaborative Development All Up to three years All External Peer Review and Internal Science Management
Rapid Mail-In All One day



Internal Science Management
Proof-of-Principle All One day All Internal Science Management
Discretionary Time Neutron Sciences Staff (external collaborators may participate) Single cycle All Internal Science Management


Proposal Call Access

HFIR and SNS offer two proposals calls each year. Proposals selected during each call will be allocated beam time during the next run cycles at HFIR or SNS.

General User Proposals

General User proposals provide access to individuals and groups who require the HFIR and/or SNS instruments to carry out their research in a single cycle.

General User proposals are peer reviewed and recommended for beam time by an external peer review, a team of external scientists with expertise in various research fields related to neutron scattering. Internal science management designates final beam time allocations for the selected proposals.

Download the General User Statement of Research template.

Collaborative Development Proposals

Collaborative Development Proposals will be reserved for projects that will bring new resources or capabilities that are of benefit to the HFIR and SNS user communities, such as a new technique or sample environment. The work may be done over several cycles and will require a progress report between each cycle. A Collaborative Development proposal must include the involvement of at least one SNS or HFIR Instrument scientist.

Download the Collaborative Development Statement of Research template.

Download the Collaborative Development Progress Report template.

Rapid Access

Rapid Access proposals grant beam time to potential high-impact science outside of the periodic proposal calls. They are reviewed and allocated beam time by internal science management. 

Mail-In Proposals

Mail-In proposals are limited to one day experiments, in which users send samples by mail for instrument staff to collect data on the user's behalf. It is anticipated Mail-In experiments will lead to a publication.

Currently, instruments with Mail-In programs are EQ-SANS, NOMAD, POWGEN, SEQUOIA, VISION and VULCAN. For more information on Mail-In experiments, visit the individual instrument web page.

Download the Mail-In Proposal Statement of Research template.

Proof-of-Principle Proposals

Proof-of-Principle proposals are available for testing the feasibility of a potential experiment prior to submitting a full proposal. The experiment is limited to one day and cannot require a complex sample environment.

Download the Proof-of-Principle Proposal Statement of Research template.

Discretionary Time Proposals

Discretionary Time proposals are reserved for research with the potential to further national scientific agenda, industrial partnerships, collaborations, and development of the instrument, sample environment, or technique.

External scientists interested in submitting a proposal for Discretionary beam time must submit in partnership with an ORNL Neutron Sciences staff member. After discussing the experiment with an instrument scientist, users can create a proposal in IPTS, which the partnering staff member will submit.