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|thermal neutron |
See slow neutron.
any free neutron (one that is not bound within an atomic nucleus) that has an average energy of motion (kinetic energy) corresponding to the average energy of the particles of the ambient materials. Relatively slow and of low energy, thermal neutrons exhibit properties, such as large cross sections in fission, that make them desirable in certain chain-reaction applications. Furthermore, the long de Broglie wavelengths of thermal neutrons make them valuable for certain applications of neutron optics. Thermal neutrons are produced by slowing down more energetic neutrons in a substance called a moderator after they have been ejected from atomic nuclei during nuclear reactions such as fission.