NeXus - A Common Data Format for Neutrons and X-rays

Ray Osborn ROsborn at
Wed Aug 6 18:00:02 CDT 1997

     NeXus ---  A Common Data Format for Neutrons and X-rays

NeXus is a data format for the exchange of neutron and synchrotron scattering
data between facilities and user institutions.  It has been developed by an
international team of scientists and computer programmers from neutron and
X-ray facilities around the world.  The NeXus format uses the Hierarchical
Data Format (HDF) which is portable, binary, extensible and self-describing.
NeXus defines the structure and contents of these HDF files in order to
facilitate the visualization and analysis of neutron and X-ray data.  In
addition, an Application Program Interface (API) has been produced in order to
simplify the reading and writing of NeXus files.

In our view, a common data format will, in the long term, produce significant
benefits to the neutron scattering community by

* reducing time spent on converting existing data formats.

* reducing wasteful duplication of software effort.

* increasing cooperation in software development both between neutron
  facilities and between the neutron and X-ray scattering communities.

* stimulating the development of more sophisticated visualization and
  analysis software.

* allowing us to benefit more easily from third-party software.

We invite members of the neutron and X-ray scattering communities to
participate in the evaluation of the NeXus format in the next few months.
The NeXus web pages at <> give the background
to its development, the philosophy of the design, details of the structure and
content of NeXus files and a description of the API, a beta version of which
may be downloaded by FTP from <>
(N.B. some small revisions are being made to the API - it should be up-to-date
by noon CST tomorrow).

If you are interested in contributing to further developments of the NeXus
standard or would like to be kept informed of new developments, please
subscribe to the NeXus Mailing List using the instructions in

Message to ICNS'97 Participants:

There will be a session introducing the NeXus format on Tues, Aug 19, at 8pm
in the McLennan Physical Laboratories, room 134 (adjacent to the poster
sessions).  Przemek Klosowski (NIST) and I will discuss the design and
implementation of the format with time for a feedback session.  If you have
any questions or comments regarding NeXus, please come along.

Dr Ray Osborn                  Tel: +1 (630) 252-9011
Materials Science Division     Fax: +1 (630) 252-7777
Argonne National Laboratory    E-mail: ROsborn at
Argonne, IL 60439-4845

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