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Abstract

The FlexiProb project is a joint effort of three soft matter groups at the Universities of Bielefeld, Darmstadt, and Munich with scientific support from the European Spallation Source (ESS), the small-K advanced diffractometer (SKADI) beamline development group of the Jülich Centre for Neutron Science (JCNS), and the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ). Within this framework, a flexible and quickly interchangeable sample carrier system for small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) at the ESS was developed. In the present contribution, the development of a sample environment for the investigation of soft matter thin films with grazing-incidence small-angle neutron scattering (GISANS) is introduced. Therefore, components were assembled on an optical breadboard for the measurement of thin film samples under controlled ambient conditions, with adjustable temperature and humidity, as well as the optional in situ recording of the film thickness via spectral reflectance. Samples were placed in a 3D-printed spherical humidity metal chamber, which enabled the accurate control of experimental conditions via water-heated channels within its walls. A separately heated gas flow stream supplied an adjustable flow of dry or saturated solvent vapor. First test experiments proved the concept of the setup and respective component functionality.

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