Atomic and Nuclear Physics
The important information in this chapter is summarized below.
Neutron Interactions Summary
Interactions where a neutron scatters off a target nucleus are either elastic or
inelastic. In elastic scattering, kinetic energy and momentum are conserved and
no energy is transferred into excitation energy of the target nucleus. In inelastic
scattering, some amount of kinetic energy is transferred into excitation energy of
the target nucleus.
The conservation principles that apply to an elastic collision are conservation of
kinetic energy and conservation of momentum.
Radiative capture is the absorption of a neutron by the target nucleus, resulting
in an excited nucleus which subsequently (typically within a small fraction of a
second) releases its excitation energy in the form of a gamma ray.
Particle ejection occurs when a neutron is absorbed by a target nucleus, resulting
in the formation of a compound nucleus. The compound nucleus immediately
ejects a particle (for example, alpha or proton).