The breaking of a heavy nucleus into two or more fragments of comparable masses, with the release of tremendous energy is called as nuclear fission. The most typical fission reaction occurs when slow moving neutrons strike 92U235. The following nuclear reaction takes place.

If more than one of the neutrons produced in the above fission reaction are capable of inducing a fission reaction (provided U235 is available), then the number of fissions taking place at successive stages goes increasing at a very brisk rate and this generates a series of fissions. This is known as chain reaction. The chain reaction takes place only if the size of the fissionable material (U235) is greater than a certain size called the critical size.

If the number of fission in a given interval of time goes on increasing continuously, then a condition of explosion is created. In such cases, the chain reaction is known as uncontrolled chain reaction. This forms the basis of atomic bomb.

In a chain reaction, the fast moving neutrons are absorbed by certain substances known as moderators (like heavy water), then the number of fissions can be controlled and the chain reaction is such cases is known as controlled chain reaction. This forms the basis of a nuclear reactor.

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