Critical mass

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Critical mass is a term used in nuclear physics to describe the smallest amount of fissile material needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. The critical mass of a fissionable material depends upon its nuclear properties, its density, its shape, its enrichment, its purity, its temperature, and its surroundings.

Nuclear Physics[edit | edit source]

In nuclear physics, the critical mass is the minimum amount of nuclear material needed to make a nuclear bomb. It is the amount needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction. The critical mass of a nuclear material depends on its nuclear properties (e.g., the nuclear fission cross-section), its density, its shape, its enrichment, its purity, its temperature, and its surroundings.

Fissile Material[edit | edit source]

Fissile material is material capable of sustaining a nuclear fission chain reaction. By definition, fissile material can sustain a chain reaction with neutrons of any energy. The predominant neutron energy may be typified by either slow neutrons (i.e., a thermal system) or fast neutrons.

Nuclear Chain Reaction[edit | edit source]

A nuclear chain reaction occurs when one single nuclear reaction causes an average of one or more subsequent nuclear reactions, thus leading to the possibility of a self-propagating series of these reactions. The specific nuclear reaction may be the fission of heavy isotopes (e.g., uranium-235, 235U).

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Critical mass Resources
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