Macroscopic Slowing Down Power – MSDP

Elastic Scattering and Neutron Moderators

To be an effective moderator, the probability of elastic reaction between neutron and the nucleus must be high. In terms of cross-sections, the elastic scattering cross section of a moderator’s nucleus must be high. Therefore, a high elastic scattering cross-section is important, but does not describe comprehensively capabilities of moderators. In order to describe capabilities of a material to slow down neutrons, three new material variables must be defined:

Key properties of neutron moderators:
  • high cross-section for neutron scattering
  • high energy loss per collision
  • low cross-section for absorption
  • high melting and boiling point
  • high thermal conductivity
  • high specific heat capacity
  • low viscosity
  • low activity
  • low corrosive
  • cheap

Macroscopic Slowing Down Power – MSDP

We have defined the probability of elastic scattering reaction, we have defined the average energy loss during the reaction. The product of these variables (the logarithmic energy decrement and the macroscopic cross section for scattering in the material) is the macroscopic slowing down power (MSDP).

MSDP = ξ . Σs

The MSDP describes the ability of a given material to slow down neutrons and indicates how rapidly a neutron will slow down in the material, but it does not fully reflect the effectiveness of the material as a moderator. In fact, the material with high MSDP can slow down neutrons with high efficiency, but it can be a poor moderator because of its high probability of absorbing neutrons. It is typical, for example, for boron, which has a high slowing down power but is absolutely inappropriate as a moderator.The most complete measure of the effectiveness of a moderator is the Moderating Ratio (MR), where:

MR  = ξ . Σs/Σa

Table of macroscopic slowing down power MSDP for some materials.
Table of macroscopic slowing down power MSDP for some materials.

See previous:

Energy Decrement

See above:

Neutron Moderator

See next:

Moderating Ratio