Neutron Absorption Cross Section Calculator
Unit Converter ▲
Unit Converter ▼
From:  To: 
The neutron absorption cross section is a critical concept in nuclear physics, reflecting the likelihood of a neutron being absorbed by a nucleus. This measure is pivotal for understanding nuclear reactions, reactor design, and the behavior of materials under neutron radiation.
Historical Background
The study of neutron absorption cross sections began earnestly with the advent of nuclear physics in the early 20th century. As researchers discovered the neutron and began to understand nuclear reactions, they recognized the need for a quantitative measure of neutron absorption to predict and analyze nuclear behavior.
Calculation Formula
The formula to calculate the neutron absorption cross section (\(\sigma_a\)) is given by:
\[ \sigma_a = \pi \lambda^2 (1 + \frac{E}{E_r}) \]
where:
 \(\lambda\) is the wavelength of the neutron,
 \(E\) is the energy of the neutron,
 \(E_r\) is the resonance energy.
Example Calculation
Suppose a neutron has a wavelength of \(1 \times 10^{10}\) meters, an energy of \(1.602 \times 10^{13}\) joules, and is interacting with a nucleus with a resonance energy of \(2.072 \times 10^{13}\) joules. The neutron absorption cross section would be calculated as:
\[ \sigma_a = \pi (1 \times 10^{10})^2 (1 + \frac{1.602 \times 10^{13}}{2.072 \times 10^{13}}) \approx 3.14 \times 10^{20} \text{ square meters} \]
Importance and Usage Scenarios
The neutron absorption cross section is fundamental in nuclear engineering, reactor design, and safety assessments. It helps in selecting materials for reactors, understanding fuel behavior, and managing neutron economy in a reactor core.
Common FAQs

What does a higher neutron absorption cross section imply?
 A higher neutron absorption cross section indicates a greater likelihood of a neutron being absorbed by the nucleus, which is critical for materials used in control rods and neutron shields.

How does the energy of a neutron affect its absorption cross section?
 The energy of a neutron significantly impacts its absorption cross section, especially near resonance energies where absorption is greatly enhanced.

Can the neutron absorption cross section be used to predict reactor behavior?
 Yes, it is a key parameter in reactor physics, affecting neutron flux, reactor control, and the efficiency of the chain reaction.
Understanding neutron absorption cross sections is essential for the safe and efficient design and operation of nuclear reactors, as well as for the development of new materials for nuclear applications.