Scientists tap into AI to put a new spin on neutron experiments

Scientists seek to use quantum materials—those that have correlated order at the subatomic level—for electronic devices, quantum computers, and superconductors. Quantum materials owe many of their properties to the physics ...

Hubble finds best evidence for elusive mid-sized black hole

Astronomers have found the best evidence for the perpetrator of a cosmic homicide: a black hole of an elusive class known as "intermediate-mass," which betrayed its existence by tearing apart a wayward star that passed too ...

Electron-eating neon causes star to collapse

An international team of researchers has found that neon inside a certain massive star can consume the electrons in the core, a process called electron capture, which causes the star to collapse into a neutron star and produce ...

Superfuids may merge via corkscrew mechanism

Scientists at the Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have made a discovery in fluid dynamics that is truly worth uncorking a bottle of fine wine.

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Neutron

The neutron is a subatomic particle with no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton.

Neutrons are usually found in atomic nuclei. The nuclei of most atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of protons in a nucleus is the atomic number and defines the type of element the atom forms. The number of neutrons determines the isotope of an element. For example, the carbon-12 isotope has 6 protons and 6 neutrons, while the carbon-14 isotope has 6 protons and 8 neutrons.

While bound neutrons in stable nuclei are stable, free neutrons are unstable; they undergo beta decay with a lifetime of just under 15 minutes (885.7 ± 0.8 s). Free neutrons are produced in nuclear fission and fusion. Dedicated neutron sources like research reactors and spallation sources produce free neutrons for the use in irradiation and in neutron scattering experiments.

Even though it is not a chemical element, the free neutron is sometimes included in tables of nuclides. It is then considered to have an atomic number of zero and a mass number of one.

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