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Key Characteristics of Inelastic Scattering
- During an inelastic scattering the neutron is absorbed and then re-emitted.
- While momentum is conserved in an inelastic collision, kinetic energy of the “system” is not conserved.
- Some energy of the incident neutron is absorbed to the recoiling nucleus and the nucleus remains in the excited state.
- The nucleus gives up excitation energy by emitting one or more gamma rays.
- General notation: A(n, n’)A* or A(n, 2n’)B; Example: 14O(n, n’)14O*.
- Inelastic scattering is a threshold reaction and occurs above a threshold energy.
- Inelastic scattering cross section is relatively small for light nuclei.
- For hydrogen nucleus, inelastic scattering does not occur, because it does not have excited states.
- Inelastic scattering plays an important role in slowing down neutrons especially at high energies and by heavy nuclei (e.g. 238U).
- Inelastic scattering may be significant for heterogeneous reactors with highly enriched fuel (e.g. in fast neutron reactors).
Inelastic Scattering Cross-section