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Application of Neutron Physics


The aim of the course is to understand the role of the neutron in Physics and its importance in some of today's applications. In addition, the course aims to describe the Physics principle on which the detection of neutrons is based


The course deals with the physics of slow and fast neutrons and their main applications: neutron scattering, fission and nuclear fusion. Particular emphasis is given to the Physics principles that are used for the detection of neutrons, including neutron spectroscopy.

Detailed program

1. The neutron as elementary particle.

  • Discovery of the neutron (Chadwick + reading Nature article and other papers)
  • Main properties of the neutron
  • Neutron sources (Radioisotopes, DT generators, spallation pulsed sources)

2. Neutron detection

  • Direct nuclear reactions, compound nucleus, resonance
  • Neutron cross sections
  • Methods for the detection of slow neutrons
  • Methods for the detection of fast neutrons and spectroscopy

3. Neutron Scattering

  • Neutron Scattering in central potential
  • Elastic scattering and diffraction at the Bragg
  • Inelastic scattering

4. Neutrons for the study of condensed matter

  • Diffraction by crystals
  • Neutron spectroscopy
  • Instrumentation for scattering experiments

5. Advanced instrumentation for neutron spectroscopy of fusion plasmas

  • MPR, TOFOR, derivation of  random coincidence background

6 Neutron and Nuclear Energy

  • Derivation of the semiempirical formula for binding energy of the nucleus.
  • Nuclear fission. Neutron moderation, lethargy. Transport and neutron scattering.
  • The fission reactor: the 4-factor formula, examples of reactors, radioactive waste problem
  • Magnetic thermonuclear fusion. Derivation of the Lawson criterion and energy balance. Alpha particles and Q value.
  • Thermonuclear fusion, inertial confinement: Lawson criterion, diagnostic spectrum of neutrons and neutron
  • Movie: “I ragazzi di  Panisperna”

7 (optional)

  • Seminar/practical exercises on the simulation code MCNP
  • Soft errors caused by the interaction of atmospheric neutrons

Application of Neutron Physics

Italy - Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
Course Type
Course Type
In person
Suggested Audience
Suggested Audience
Preferable to have completed a three-year degree in Physics on Engineering. Open to all students of the Master's degree in Physics.