Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

The Other Nuclear Reaction

Neutron-capture reactions, responsible for the creation of most chemical elements, are being studied in detail for nuclear physics, nuclear technology, and national security.
May 1, 2017
star cluster NGC 3532

Some aging red giant stars, visible in this image of star cluster NGC 3532, host a number of neutron-producing reactions and, over time, produce heavier elements by the process of neutron capture—neutrons merging with atomic nuclei. CREDIT: ESO/G. Beccari

“The gold in my wedding band proves there are neutron-capture reactions in the universe.” - Shea Mosby, Los Alamos scientist

“Nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear medicine, and nuclear diagnostics—these things help to carry humanity forward, and neutron-induced reactions are vitally important to all of them,” says Los Alamos scientist Shea Mosby. “So we strive to measure precise parameters for neutron capture by many different isotopes as part of the broader effort to understand all the ways to create and destroy every isotope of every element. And in nearly every isotope we’ve tested so far, we discovered something new and valuable.”