Definition - What does Neutron mean?

Neutron is a subatomic particle which has no electric charge represented with a symbol n. It has a mass a bit heavier than that of protons. Neutrons and Protons with mass around 1 atomic mass unit create the nucleus of atom and are collectively called nucleons. The interactions and properties of Neutrons are described by the nuclear physics. The Protons and Neutrons are nucleons attracted and bound together with the nuclear force that forms atomic nuclei. The Neutrons and Protons can be unstable or stable in the nucleus based on the nuclide.

Petropedia explains Neutron

Neutrons are the elementary particles that have no charge and have a mass somewhat greater than that of protons. They are the integral part of the nuclei of all atoms except hydrogen nuclei. There are free Neutrons present outside the nucleus which are unstable and have a life of around 14 minutes and 42 seconds. Neutrons have a total electric charge of 0 which has been experimentally tested. The mass of Neutrons cannot be determined directly by mass spectrometry because of the lack of electronic charge.

They play a crucial role in several nuclear reactions. For instance, captured Neutrons result in the Neutron activation that induces radioactivity. One of the great uses of Neutrons is to excite prompt and delayed gamma rays from the elements in materials. They can also be used in the detection of light nuclei, for example, hydrogen found in the water molecules.

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