Can electrons knock out neutrons?

  • Thread starter Murdock
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I know that sufficiently energetic protons and photons (1.7MeV) can knock a neutron out of a beryllium nucleus. Can an electron do the same?
 

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  • #2
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In principle yes, but I would expect that the process is very unlikely as the neutron does not have a (net) charge.
 
  • #3
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What do you think the probability of it occurring would be compared to a a proton or gamma ray doing the same?
 
  • #4
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I don't know, but I guess someone studied it somewhere.
Why do you ask?
 
  • #5
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I was wondering because a commonly used neutron source is to use high voltages to accelerate protons into a target to produce neutrons for breeding medical isotopes. It just seemed to me you should be able to skip the "middle man" and get a higher efficiency out of it.
 
  • #6
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How do you skip something if you replace protons by electrons?
Protons interact with neutrons via the strong interaction, that makes the process much more likely.
 
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  • #7
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Interesting question since photons don't represent a net charge or capture mechanism.
Then again, I don't know if acceleration process is simple and easy when you have to deliver almost 2 MeV.
 
  • #8
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2 MeV is possible with DC acceleration. With protons you can even save 1 MV of high voltage because you can start with negatively charged ions and use the acceleration voltage twice.
 
  • #9
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mfb,
Agreed. Back in the days Van De Grafs were used, millions of volts were routinely developed. Then again, they were pressed into using high pressure containment to mitigate arcing. It does beg the question, what is a reasonable voltage for commercial use?
 
  • #10
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I don't know if commercial applications use DC accelerators, but I know those do exist in this energy range.
 
  • #11
e.bar.goum
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mfb,
Agreed. Back in the days Van De Grafs were used, millions of volts were routinely developed. Then again, they were pressed into using high pressure containment to mitigate arcing. It does beg the question, what is a reasonable voltage for commercial use?
Hmpf! I'm sitting in the control room of a Van de Graaff accelerator that is in use right now. "Back in the days" indeed.
 
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