Nuclear reactors are unique in their ability to deliver a large amount of neutrons to a sample. The most common use of these neutrons is to transmutate a stable isotope into a radioactive isotope either for research, trace elemental analysis, or isotope production purposes.
Another unique property of nuclear reactors is the intense gamma radiation emitted from the core, which is unmatched by most other sources. Many things — from the sterilization of medical tools to the study of radiation effects on electronic components — can be accomplished with gamma radiation.
The Nuclear Engineering & Science Center is a large source of neutrons and gamma radiation, but there are many different options for delivering these types of radiation to a sample.