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5 Types of Nuclear Reactions in 3 Important Categories

types of nuclear reactions

Nuclear reactions can be categorized into three different categories. These are Fission, Direct and Compound nucleus reactions. Each of these has its own chemistry and physical properties.  We picked out 5 different types of nuclear reactions.  So let’s start with the question what are nuclear reactions?

Compound nucleus reactions

Compound nucleus reactions are a class of nuclear reactions involving nucleon-nucleon interactions. They are produced by projectiles, such as protons and neutrons, that collide with target nuclei. The projectiles interact with the surface of the target nucleus, while the target nucleus collects energy from the projectile. This energy is then shared among the degrees of freedom of the compound nucleus.

These reactions are two-stage processes, with a stage of formation and a stage of decay. Because the number of collisions between nucleons is very large, there is a thermal equilibrium within the compound nucleus. After a long time, the nuclear reaction will decay into a single excited nucleus.

Compound nucleus reactions can be calculated by measuring the angular distribution of the reaction products. Assuming a thermal equilibrium within the compound nucleus, this angular distribution will show forward-backward peaking if the angular momentum of the incoming particle is limited.

If the incoming particle is not confined to a thermal equilibrium, the probability of a successful compound nucleus reaction increases with increasing energy. At high energies, the probability of a successful reaction is not influenced by the presence of resonances.

Resonances are usually found at low energies. For example, a compound nucleus silicon-28 will decay into a proton and silicon-27. Similarly, a sodium-24 will decay into three protons and a neutron.

In a typical compound nucleus reaction, the angular distribution of the particles will be very similar to that of a normal single particle state. The reason for this is the fact that the nucleus “forgets” its mode of formation.

A new model can help address the question of how the clusters of particles form. It gives a detailed picture of how neutrons cluster around protons.

Direct reactions

Direct reactions in nuclear reactions are those that involve the interaction of a single nucleon with a target. These reactions take place on time scales similar to the transit of an incident particle across the nucleus. However, the angular distributions of the reaction products are not isotropic. This is due to the fact that the nucleons involved are not identical to the nucleons produced by the initial particle.

These nuclear reactions are important for measuring the structure of the nuclear nucleus. In addition to the typical single-nucleon reaction, there are also reactions between two or more nuclei.

The direct type of reaction is one of the most common types of nuclear reactions. It is often characterized by a high level of angular anisotropy. Aside from a few special cases, the majority of these reactions show a weak dependence on the energy of the incident particles.

Reactions between light nuclei are the most common type. They are triggered by a variety of incident particles, including g-photons and charged ions. Other types of direct reactions include break-up and pickup processes.

Reactions between heavy nuclei are rarer. These interactions require more energy to initiate. For example, a reaction between 15N and a deuteron requires a higher initiating energy than a reaction between 13C and a proton.

Most low-level reactions are direct. There are two main mechanisms: shape elastic scattering and compound elastic scattering.

Shape elastic scattering is a mechanism in which the nucleus’s surface undergoes an elastic change in shape. Some reactions in the peripheral layers of the nuclear shell are also characterized by this type of change.

The probability of a reaction occurring depends on the energy of the projectiles, the flux of the incident particles, and the rate at which they are emitted. There are some reactions which have an equal chance of proceeding directly as those which require the passage of a deuteron.


Fission is a type of nuclear reaction that produces large amounts of energy. It is used in nuclear power plants. It also has the potential to produce unpredictable and potentially dangerous products. However, it has many applications, both in industrial and biological processes.

Nuclear fission was first described by the German physicists Lise Meitner and Otto Frisch in 1939. They borrowed the term from biology and chemistry and gave a physical interpretation to the mechanism.  Remember there are chemical reactions and nuclear reactions to consider.

The process involved disintegrating a heavy atomic nucleus into two lighter nuclei. This requires a total input energy of about 7-8 million electron volts. Once the nucleus has broken down, the two fragments move away at a high velocity and release energy. A significant amount of energy is released in beta decays and delayed gamma emissions.

In addition to energy release, the fission process produces a large variety of radioactive tracers. These tracers are useful in nuclear and biological applications.

Although the process has been studied and simulated in many models, a complete description still remains incomplete. Several key features have been outlined in a large number of papers. Various models combine classical and quantum descriptions of the event. Most models rely on adiabatic approximation.

Adiabatic transformations are a subclass of quasistatic processes. As the elongation of the nucleus increases, surface tension increases. Coulomb repulsion between the protons resulting from this interaction drives the nucleus further elongated.

Another important feature of the fission process is the fact that a large number of neutrons are emitted from the breaking nucleus. It is estimated that at least 3.5 neutrons are emitted for each fission.

The most common type of nuclear fission is binary fission. This type of nuclear fission occurs when the lobes of the nucleus exceed a short-range nuclear force attraction distance.


Fusion is a type of nuclear reaction where two light atomic nuclei are forced together to form a heavier nucleus. The process releases an enormous amount of energy, though it is relatively safe. This process happens in stars like the sun and is the foundation of nuclear energy.

Fission, on the other hand, is a process of splitting a heavy, unstable atomic nucleus into two lighter nuclei. It is the basis of all nuclear weapons. But it is not as effective as fusion. In the case of a fission bomb, the two nuclei are released as radioactive particles that can contaminate nearby surfaces. And it takes thousands of years for the dangerous levels of radiation to dissipate.

If we could create fusion, we would have an amazing source of controlled energy. Instead of having to burn fuel, a fusion reactor would heat the fuel to a high temperature and then compress it with a laser to release its energy.

However, controlling fusion is difficult. This is because the atoms need to be contained in a strong magnetic field. That means a huge amount of energy is needed.

It is also difficult to achieve initial conditions that are necessary for a fusion reaction. For example, a plasma must be heated to at least 108 K before the fusion process begins. Similarly, it must be in a stable magnetic field for long enough to allow the reactions to occur.

In addition, the temperature and pressure must be adequate for the fusion chain reactions to begin. These must be at least 150 million degC and 300 million degC.

Unlike fission, fusion does not produce any radioactive waste. Instead, it releases energy, which can be used to generate steam or drive turbines.

Shape elastic scattering

Shape elastic scattering of nuclear reactions occurs in two ways. First, by transferring kinetic energy. Second, by producing useful signals. For instance, if a nucleus is fissioned, a neutron is produced. These two effects affect predictions for criticality and radiation shielding.

It is important to understand the difference between elastic and inelastic scattering. The main reason for the distinction is that elastic scattering is a two-body problem, whereas inelastic scattering is a three-body problem. This is because a nucleus will undergo a recoil when it collides with a neutron. However, the nucleus does not undergo an excited state after the recoil.

There are many mechanisms that cause inelastic scattering. One of the more common mechanisms is the transfer of kinetic energy. In the case of a neutron, the energy transfer happens until the kinetic energy of the particle is the same as that of the surroundings.

If the recoil nucleus is a proton, the effect is to reduce the angular distribution of the scattered neutron. The energy transferred to the nucleus is the sum of the kinetic energies of the neutron and the nucleus.

At low energies, elastic scattering is more sensitive to the relative strength of the repulsive part of an optical potential. Using a statistical model, the magnitude of this effect is shown.

At higher energies, the effects become more significant. This is because the resolution of the resonance region goes up to several hundred kiloelectronvolts.

The effect of elastic scattering on the angular distribution of the scattered neutron is crucial for fast neutron-induced reactions on nuclei in the medium to heavy mass range. It is also relevant to calculations of radiation shielding.

A statistical model should work well for high energy atoms. Although a simple method is available for measuring cross sections at low energies, it underestimates results above two MeV.

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