Neutron capture

Neutron capture is a nuclear reaction in which an atomic nucleus and one or more neutrons collide and merge to form a heavier nucleus.[1] Since neutrons have no electric charge, they can enter a nucleus more easily than positively charged protons, which are repelled electrostatically.[1]

Chart of nuclides showing thermal neutron capture cross section values

Neutron capture plays a significant role in the cosmic nucleosynthesis of heavy elements. In stars it can proceed in two ways: as a rapid process (r-process) or a slow process (s-process).[1] Nuclei of masses greater than 56 cannot be formed by thermonuclear reactions (i.e., by nuclear fusion) but can be formed by neutron capture.[1] Neutron capture on protons yields a line at 2.223 MeV predicted[2] and commonly observed[3] in solar flares.


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