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Cross Sections

Department of Physics

University of Rome “Tor Vergata”

6 February 2006

J. M. Carpenter

Argonne National Laboratory

• This is an overview of the total neutron

cross sections, sampled to illustrate

their variety of nuclear and materials-

state dependence.

Definition of Cross Section

Target

Neutrons

N incident neutron flux NI

Hydrogen gas

at low energies beyond

80-b “bound atom” value

Helium-3

Liquid Helium-4

Beryllium Polycrystal

Bragg Edges

Boron

Oxygen gas

Aluminum polycrystal

Scandium metal

Destructive Resonance

Scattering Interference

Vanadium metal

Resonances

Scattering and

absorbtion

Cadmium

Strong low-energy

resonance

Xenon-135

Highest known

low-energy cross section

Gadolinium

cross section

Uranium-235

Uranium-238

Mostly scattering,

Low-energy resonances,

Bragg edges

Very narrow line at 6.7 eV

Resonance Effects in Slow-Neutron

Interactions

Background

absorption and scattering cross sections in samples, the

scattering lengths (which in general are complex functions

of the energy) that enter in diffraction, inelastic scattering,

and refraction. In the past, only a few of these have been of

interest, as, for example in steady-source applications in the

range of energies below about 100. meV, and these seldom

productively used. With the advent of powerful pulsed

sources, the range of accessible energies in neutron

experiments will likely extend to much higher energies.

Mughabghab and Gerber tabulate 472 “strong” resonances

up to 100. eV, and present both opportunities and potential

difficulties in planning and interpreting measurements

Approach

scattering lengths and products of scattering lengths, and indices

of refraction, the latter of which have imaginary components in

the neighborhood of the resonance energies.

the data, not in any sense of derivation from principles but rather

in the sense of a compendium of recipes. Then we show the

results of test calculations, which verify the recipe and illustrate

the behavior of the functions.

Breit-Wigner Formulation

Shortly after the discovery of neutrons, early workers

discovered the presence of sharp maxima in the neutron-

nuclear cross sections. Soon thereafter, Breit and Wigner

developed a theory describing the phenomenon in terms of

resonant interactions with states of excitation of the

“compound nuclei” consisting of the struck nucleus and the

interacting neutron.

Breit-Wigner Formulas

relevant. The capture cross section is

1/2

$ "r(E r) E r 1

! "(E) =# !or

r $ r (E) E 1 + y2r

and the scattering cross section is

Breit-Wigner Formulas

where

yr = ! 2(E) (E – E r ) ,

r

In which Er is the energy of the rth resonance and the

energies are expressed in the laboratory reference system.

The Γrs are “partial widths” describing each type of

interaction for the rth resonance. The neutron width varies

with neutron energy as

The total width (equal to the fwhm) for each resonance varies

mildly with energy

! r (E) = ! n r(E) + ! "r + ! #r + ! p r + ! fr +…,

Breit-Wigner Formulas

σor is the value of the total cross section at the peak of the

rth resonance when the neutron energy E = Er

2 g$ n r(E r)

! o r = 4"#r $ (E ) .

r r

and (for this purpose only) the reduced wavelength of the neutron

at resonant energy in the center-of-mass reference is

!r = 1 !r = 1 A + 1 h

2" 2" A 2mE r

2J + 1 .

g = 2(2I + 1)

I and J are the spins of the struck and of the compound nucleus.

Breit-Wigner Formulas

nucleus scattering are complex numbers

+, – # r$ n r(E)

b +coh, – (E) = R! + " r ,

2(E – E r) + i$ r(E)

For bcoh+ the sum extends over all resonances for which J = I + 1/2,

and for bcoh- extends over all resonances for which J = I - 1/2.

In the interactions that form the J = I + 1/2 state, the neutron

emerges with the same spin orientation as the incident state

(non-spin-flip). In the interactions that form the J = I - 1/2 state,

the neutron emerges with the spin orientation flipped from the

incident state. R’ is the “potential scattering radius”, constant w/r E.

Breit-Wigner Formulas

energies, E << Er the coherent scattering amplitudes are

+ ,– # r$ n r(E)

b +coh, – = R! – " r .

2Er

Thus bcoh is smaller than R' because the resonance sum is a

positive number. Moreover, the sum is independent of the energy

because

1 A+1

! = ! / 2" = 2" h = A+ 1 1

A 2mE A k

and because the neutron widths are proportional to E 1/2.

These are the values that appear in the tables of low-

energy scattering lengths.

Breit-Wigner Formulas

neutron scattering as the “coherent scattering length” is the statistical

average of the two single-nucleus coherent scattering amplitudes,

weighted according to the numbers of states I + 1/2 and I – 1/2.

b coh = g +b+coh + g–b –coh ,

in which the statistical weights are

g+ = (I + 1) / (2I + 1)

and

g– = I / (2I + 1) .

For spin-zero nuclei, I = 0, g- = 0 and b- is irrelevant.

Breit-Wigner Formulas

2

! coh = 4"acoh = 4"(g +b+coh + g– b –coh) 2 .

The total scattering cross section is the sum of the coherent and

“incoherent” cross sections, and represents the total scattered

intensity for both modes of scattering

convention we write

b + = b+coh and b – = b –coh .

Breit-Wigner Formulas

account for isotope incoherence and site incoherence in alloys, etc.

Index of Refraction

and the reaction cross sections are accounted for, the index of

refraction is a complex number

scattering cross section for each element in the unit of composition

the λ -dependence in these expressions, but also through the

energy dependence of the scattering lengths and cross sections.

Total Cross Section of 181Ta

Scattering Cross Section of 181Ta

Total Cross Section of 181Ta

Scattering Cross Section of 181Ta

Real Part of Bound-Atom Coherent

Imaginary Part of Bound-Atom Co-

Real Part of Index of

Refraction of 181Ta

Slide 11

Imaginary Part of Index of

Refraction of 181Ta

Real Part of Index of

Refraction of 181Ta

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