Neutron Interactions

 neutrons essentially interact only with the

atomic nucleus

 cross-sections can vary dramatically and

erratically based on complex interactions
between all the nucleons in the nucleus and
the incident neutron

 huge effort and money has been spent to

measure these cross-sections for many
materials and a wide range of neutron
energies

Neutron Interactions
 needed for shielding calculations and for many basic and

applied type s of research:

 neutron scattering, crystal studies, DNA
 neutron activation analysis
 neutron radiography, paintings
 weapons research, neutron bombs
 nuclear structure
 neutron depth profiling
 neutron dosimetry

Sources of Neutrons

nuclear reactor most prolific source

energy spectrum from the fission of
from several keV to more than 10 MeV

most probable energy ~ 0.7 MeV

average energy ~ 2 MeV

there are no naturally occurring radioisotopes
which emit neutrons

235

U extends

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226Ra or 239Pu with a light metal such as Be or B  the reactions that follow are: Be(. n)14N 9  there is a continuous energy spectrum .Sources of Neutrons 1. n)13N 11B(. one can manufacture a radioactive neutron source by combining an alpha emitting radionuclide such as 210Po. n)12C 10B(.

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5 24.7  107 226 3.n) Source Avg Neutron Energy (MeV) Half-Life 210 4.Sources of Neutrons (α.400 yr PoBe PoB RaBe RaB PuBe n / Ci sec 1  106 .8  106 239 4.2 138 d 9  105 210 2.9 1602 yr 1.5 138 d 4  105 226 3.0 1602 yr 6.

n) reactions  by choosing radioisotopes with a single -ray then monoenergetic neutrons can be produced  the sources are produced in a reactor using conventional (n.) reactions except for 226Ra   's then interact as follows: Be(.Sources of Neutrons 3. Photoneutron sources using (.n)1H 9 .n)8Be 2He(.

62 40 hr 3  103 226 0.83 15 hr 1.Sources of Neutrons Source Avg Neutron Energy (MeV) Half-Life 24 0.35  105 24 0.024 60 d 1.9  105 140 0.22 15 hr 2.7 (max) 1622 yr 1  103 NaBe NaD2O InBe SbBe LaBe RaBe n / Ci sec .2  103 124 0.7  105 114 0.30 54 min 8.

n)4He .6 MeV 14.1MeV neutrons 2 7 H(d. P-N 3 H(d.n)3He .27 MeV Li(p. D-N.Q-value = 17.Sources of Neutrons 4.65 MeV  positive Q-values means the nuclear reaction can be induced with only several hundred keV ions .Q-value = 3.Q-value = 1.n)7Be . Accelerator Neutrons  particle accelerators are used to generate neutrons by means of nuclear reactions such as: D-T.

242 Cm. Spontaneous Fission Sources  some heavy nuclei fission spontaneously emitting neutrons  some sources include: 238 254 Cf. 244 Cm. 252 Cf.Sources of Neutrons 5. Pu and 232U  in most cases the half-life for spontaneous fission is greater than alpha decay  254Cf decays almost completely by spontaneous .

65 years 252  neutron emission rate is 2.31  106 neutrons per second per microgram of 252Cf  emitted neutrons have a wide range of energies with the most probable at ~ 1 MeV and the average value ~ 2.73 years with spontaneous nuclear fission its effective halflife is 2.3 MeV .Sources of Neutrons  252Cf undergoes spontaneous nuclear fission at an average rate of 10 fissions for every 313 alpha transformations  half-life of Cf due to alpha emission is 2.

slow neutrons have energies between 0.0.01 MeV and 0.1 MeV  fast neutrons . resonance neutrons.025 eV  epithermal neutrons.1 MeV and 20 MeV  relativistic neutrons .Classification of Neutrons  neutrons are classified according to their energy  thermal neutrons have an energy of about ~ 0.

Classification of Neutrons  at thermal energies neutrons are indistinguishable from gas molecules at the same temperature and follow the Maxwell-Boltzman distribution: f (E ) =  where: 2 E / kT 1/2 e E ( kT )3/2 ƒ (E) = fraction of neutrons of energy e/unit energy interval k = Boltzman constant  10-23 J/ºK T = absolute temperature ºK .

Classification of Neutrons  most probable energy is:  Emp = kT  average energy at any given temperature is: 3 E  kT 2  for neutrons at 293 ºK most probable energy is 0.025 eV .

Classification of Neutrons  velocity:   1 mv 2 = kT 2 v = 2200 m/ sec  neutron half-life is 10 minutes  cold neutrons are much slower .

Interaction of Neutrons
 neutrons are uncharged and can travel

appreciable distances in matter without
interacting
 neutrons interact mostly by inelastic

scattering, elastic scattering and absorption

Interaction of Neutrons
1. Inelastic scattering (n,n)
 a part of the kinetic energy that is transferred to

the target nucleus upon collision
 the nucleus becomes excited and a gamma

photon/photons are emitted:
12C(n,n)12C
 this interaction is best described by the compound

nucleus model

Interaction of Neutrons
 a threshold exists for such interactions
 infinity for hydrogen (inelastic scattering can not

occur) - 6 MeV for oxygen and less than 1 MeV for
uranium
 cross-section for inelastic scattering is small,

usually less than 1 barn for low energy fast
neutrons but increases with increasing energy

1 barn = 10-24 cm2

Elastic scattering (n.n’)  most likely interaction between neutrons and low atomic number z fast  most important process for slowing down neutrons  interaction is a ‘billiard ball’ collision  scattering reactions are responsible for neutron – slowing in reactors .Interaction of Neutrons 2.

mass M and velocity V hitting a nucleus m: . as a result of scattering collisions with nuclei which act as moderators (eg .water. graphite)  n contrast cross-sections for inelastic scattering are small for low energy fast neutrons but increase with increasing energy  consider a neutron with energy Eo.E.Interaction of Neutrons  in general neutrons emitted in fission have an average energy of 2 MeV  these fast neutrons lose K.

.. V  m .......E......  1 ....... (before collision) . M.. V1  m .E o . M... (after collision) ...Interaction of Neutrons .

Interaction of Neutrons  total kinetic energy and momentum are conserved and we have: 1 2 MV 2 = 12 MV12 + 12 mv 12 and MV = MV1 + mv 1  solving for v1 and substituting into: (M .m) V1 = V (M + m) .

   M +m  2  to   target .Interaction of Neutrons 1 2 E 0  MV for incident neutron 2 1 and E  MV12 we get 2  Mm E  E0    M m  the energy nucleus is: 2 transferred   M-m  E0 .E = E0  1 .

1 2 2 MV1 = 4mME (M + m )2 E = Emax  for neutrons in a head on collision with hydrogen all the kinetic energy can be transferred in one collision since the mass of neutrons and protons are almost equal .Interaction of Neutrons 1 2 2 E max = MV  when: M = m.

H2O) and also for abundance of H in tissue.Interaction of Neutrons  important aspect in shielding for fast neutrons. (paraffin wax. n-p scattering is the dominant mechanism when neutrons deliver a dose to tissue .

033 U 0.017 1 4 9 12 16 56 118 238 .889 He 0.284 O 0.069 Sn 0.Maximum Fraction of Energy Lost.360 C 0. Qmax/E by Neutron in Single Elastic Collision with Various Nuclei Nucleus Qmax/E H 1.640 Be 0.000 2 H 0.221 Fe 0.

Absorption / Radiative Capture (n.Interaction of Neutrons 3.)  capture cross-sections for low energy neutrons generally decreases as the reciprocal of the velocity as the neutron energy increases  phenomenon called 1/v law  valid up to 1000 eV  if the capture cross-section σ0 is known for a given neutron velocity v0 or energy E0. then the crosssection at some other velocity v or energy E can be estimated: .

)7Li reaction is 753 barns for thermal (0. What is the cross-section at 50 eV? 0.025 eV) neutrons.8 barns 50 .Interaction of Neutrons E0  v0   0 v E problem the cross-section of for the 10B(n.025   753 16.

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Interaction of Neutrons Total Cross Section of 238U .

Interaction of Neutrons  as with 's neutrons are also removed exponentially when absorbers are placed in front of them:  I= I0e-Nt where:  σ = microscopic cross-section  N = no. of absorber atoms in atoms/cm3  t = thickness  neutron cross-section is strongly energy dependent .

Interaction of Neutrons problem:  a 1 cm thick lead absorber attenuated an initial 10 MeV neutron beam to 84.3 gm/cm3? 6.03  10 23 atoms/mole 3 atomic density   11.5% of its value  what is total cross-section given that the atomic weight of Pb = 207.29  10 atoms/cm  22 3 .21 and its density is 11.3 g/cm 207.21 g/mole  3.

1 barns (microscopic cross-section)  macroscopic cross-section:  = σN  = 5.29  10 22  1 = 5.1  10-24 cm2  3.1  10-24 cm2 = 5.Interaction of Neutrons I  Nt =e I0 0.29  1022 cm-3  = 0.168 cm-1 .845 = e    3.

n’)  if NT target atoms with a cross-section σcM2 are being neutron irradiated with a fluence of n cm-2 sec-1 then the production rate of daughter atoms is:   N T sec 1 .Neutron Activation  production of a radioactive isotope by the absorption of a neutron. eg:  (n.) (n.p) (n. ) (n.

 N dt .Neutron Activation  the number of daughter atoms is N having a decay constant   the rate of loss of daughter atoms is N  the rate of change is dN dt  in the number of daughter atoms presented at any time while the target is bombarded is: dN = N T .

Neutron Activation  assume the neutron fluence rate is constant and the original number of atoms is not being excessively depleted so NT is constant: let N = a + beλt  be-λt = NT -a -b e-λt  both exponential terms cancel out  N T a=  .

N T b=   the final expression is: .Neutron Activation  therefore the original solution is: N T N= + be t   the constant b depends on the initial conditions  at N = 0. t = 0 we get .

represents activity of daughter as a function of t σNt .is called saturation activity representing maximum activity at time t  ∞  when neutrons are not monoenergetic as in a reactor.e t   where: N . an average cross-section is used for σ .Neutron Activation   N =  N T 1 .

e t i  where:  ti = irradiation time  td = decay time  te = counting time  e  1 .e  t d t c  .Neutron Activation  the previous equation is the activity just at the end of production  if one is interested in the activity sometime later the following terms must be added:  N = N T 1 .

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a. calculate the saturation activity in Bq .Neutron Activation problem:  a certain radioisotope is produced by neutron activation of a sample that contains 5  1022 target atoms with an activation cross section of 2 barns  the neutron rate. 1011 cm-2 s-1.5 hours. is constant  the half-life of the isotope is 8.

Neutron Activation  the induced activity A as a function of time t after starting the exposure is given by:  A= NT (1.e-t)  where:  = neutron fluence rate or flux density σ = cross section NT = no. of target atoms in sample  activity. starting with A=0 when t=0. builds up as t increases .

or saturation value As =   N T = (10 11 cm  2 s 1 )  (2 barn)  (10  24 cm 2 barn 1 )  (5  10 22 ) = 10 10 s 1 = 10 10 Bq . and the activity approaches its maximum.Neutron Activation  when t becomes very large  exponential term in above formula becomes negligibly small.

use with: A =   N T (1 . calculate the activity reached after exposure for 24 h c.Neutron Activation b. what fraction of the saturation activity is reached at this time? solution: b.e t = 24 h t ) .

59  10 Bq  fraction of the saturation activity is: 9 A/A s = (8.e  0.59  10 ) / ( 10 10 ) = 0.5 h) = 0.0815 h 1  therefore: 10 A = 10 (1 .081524 9 ) = 8.859 .Neutron Activation  decay constant is:  = ln 2/(8.

Neutron Activation problem: Three grams of 32S are irradiated with fast neutrons having a fluence rate of 155 cm-2sec1 .3 days a.02  10 23 = 5.64  10 22  N T = (155 cm  2 sec 1 ) (0.2  10  24 cm 2 ) (5.cross-section is 0. N T = 3 32  6.200 barns and the half-life of 32P is 14. what is the maximum 32P activity that can be induced? solution: a.75 sec 1 .64  10 22 ) = 1.

73  10 Ci 10 3.7  10 b. time t needed to reach 3/4 of the value can be calculated: 3 4  = 1 .75  11 = 4.6 days .7  1010 disintegrations/ second/Curie  1.Neutron Activation  since there are 3.e  t t  28. how many days are needed for the level of the activity to reach 3/4 maximum? solution: b.

the binding energy per nucleon for heavy elements (A > 230) decreases as the atomic mass increases . fission . charged particle reactions (n.important in neutron dosimetry 5. neutron-producing reactions (n.α) .p) (n.associated with high energy neutrons .2n) .Neutron Activation 4.14 MeV neutron accelerators 6.

f )  n+ 90 235 Kr  U 90 A1 143 Rb  X+ Ba + 90 A2 90 Sr  Y + xn Kr + 3n 90 Y 90 Zr .Fission  when a thermal neutron is absorbed in U (580 barns). 239Pu (747 barns) or 233U (525 barns) vibrations in these nuclei cause them to split (fission) under mutual electrostatic repulsion of its parts 235  in general: 235 U(n.

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Distribution of Energy Among Products Released by Fission of 235u kinetic energy of charged fission fragments 162 MeV fission neutrons 6 fission gamma rays 6 subsequent beta decay 5 subsequent gamma decay 5 neutrinos 11 total 195 MeV .

2 curies/fission  where t is in days .Distribution of Energy Among Products Released by Fission of 235U  the fission process is bimodal in distribution  all fission fragments are radioactive and there are several steps before stable daughters are produced  decay of the collective fission-product activity following fission of a number of atoms is: A  10-16 t-1.

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22 MeV -ray that irradiates the surrounding tissue 1  it is one of the two important interactions by which thermal neutrons deposit energy in tissue  often seen as a background gamma-ray in power and research reactors .)2H  which releases a 2.Neutron Reactions Important to Health Physicists H(nth.

α)3H  which releases a tritium nucleus (triton) and a helium nucleus (alpha particle)  it is used in many neutron detection instruments.t)4He or 6Li(nth. including thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) .Neutron Reactions Important to Health Physicists 3 He(nth.p)3H  which is the basis for the use of 3He as a gas in several types of neutron proportional counters 6 Li(nth.

α)7Li  which is used in neutron shielding and as the basis for neutron detectors utilizing BF3 gas or boron-lined counter tubes 10 N(nth.Neutron Reactions Important to Health Physicists B(nth. since the ranges of the proton and 14C recoil nucleus are short .p)14C  which releases 626 keV and contributes approximately 1% of the total dose equivalent in soft tissue for neutron energies less than 10 MeV 14  the absorbed dose is delivered locally at the interaction site.

Neutron Reactions Important to Health Physicists 23 Na(nth.γ)24Na  which activates human blood sodium  the decay of 24Na (half-life = 7  15 h. two γ's of 100% intensity: 1.37 and 2.75 MeV) can be used to quicksort personnel after a suspected criticality 32 S(nf.p)32p  which requires a neutron with a kinetic energy of at least 2.7 MeV in order to react (an energy threshold)  this reaction is used in many threshold criticality dosimeters .

γ)114Cd  which is used in neutron shielding and reactor control rods 113 In(nth.γ)198Au  used for criticality monitoring (gold foils) 197 .γ)116mIn  which is the basis for the popular indium foils used in many criticality dosimeters 115 Au(nth.Neutron Reactions Important to Health Physicists Cd(nth.

Neutron Reactions Important to Health Physicists 235 U(nth.f)  which releases approximately 200 MeV of energy during the fission (f) process  fission in neutrons U can also be caused by fast 235 .