Paul E. Koehler and Harold A. O'Brien

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Physics Division MS-D449
Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA

The measurement of (n,p), (n,α) and (n,γ) cross sections for radioactive nuclei is of interest to both nuclear physics and astrophysics. For example, using these reactions, properties of levels in nuclei at high excitation energies, which are difficult or impossible to study using other reactions, can be investigated. Also, reaction rates for both big-bang and stellar nucleosynthesis can be obtained from these measurements. In the past, the large background associated with the sample activity limited these types of measurements to radioisotopes with very long half-lives. The advent of the low-energy, high-intensity neutron source at the Los Alamos Neutron Scattering CEnter (LANSCE) has greatly increased the number of nuclei which can be studied. Examples of (n,p) measurements on samples with half lives as short as fifty-three days are given, and the nuclear physics and astrophysics to be learned from these data is discussed. Additional difficulties are encountered when making (n,γ) rather than (n,p) or (n,α) measurements. However, with a properly-designed detector, and the high peak neutron intensities now available, (n,γ) measurements can be made for nuclei with half lives as short as several months. Progress on the Los Alamos (n,γ) cross-section measurement program for radioactive samples is discussed.

KEYWORDS: Radioactive samples, neutron-induced cross sections, nuclear astrophysics, nuclear physics