In modern materials research the complete knowledge of the arrangement and dynamics of the atoms, molecules or their larger assemblies, and of their magnetic properties is required. Due to their unique properties neutrons played essential role in condensed matter research in the past 50 years. Now recent surveys by the European Science Foundation of OECD Megascience Forum have pointed out also the future importance of neutron beam research and urging need for new neutron sources and novel instrumentation.
The most important forum of the relevant research community is the series of "International Conferences on Neutron Scattering", started in 1988 in Grenoble. The first special "European Conference" was organised in 1996 in Switzerland. The European Neutron Scattering Association (ENSA) has decided to hold the second European Conference on Neutron Scattering (ECNS'99) in Budapest, Hungary, September 1-4, 1999. Due to the co-ordination of ENSA a fairly well organised neutron scattering community has been formed in Europe.
National associations, European Union funded networks and R&D projects act very stimulating on the user activity and harmonisation of the liaison between neutron centres and the user community. Stable operation of the major existing neutron source facilities in Europe through the past few years, recent start-up of SINQ in Switzerland, current construction of the Garching high-flux reactor and the planned front-rank sources like ESS and AUSTRON open a really promising perspective in this field of research.
Considering the extensive development around the neutron sources in America and the Pacific region ECNS'99 will be an important forum not only for the nearly 5000 neutron scientists in Europe but for many colleagues from the other regions as well. The conference is organised according to the traditions of neutron scattering conferences. ENSA has set up an international Programme Committee (PRC) to define the scientific programme. Six plenary and 24 sessional invited talks will be given by European keynote speakers and further 48 oral presentation were selected by the PRC. Nearly 600 poster contributions will be presented.