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Determination of the Upper Limits of the Fission Cross-sections of Lead and Bismuth for Li-D Neutrons by a Chemical Method


THEORETICALLY, fission of elements of atomic number 83 and less is not excluded. The fission thresholds for the compound nuclei formed in neutron capture by lead and bismuth have been estimated as 9.3 MeV. for Bi210, 10.0 for Pb207, 10.4 for Pb208 and 10.7 for Pb209 1. If the neutron-binding energy is 5.4 MeV. for initial nuclei with an even, and 6.4 MeV. with an odd, number of neutrons, 3.9, 4.6, 4.0 and 5.3 MeV. have to be supplied as kinetic neutron energy to Bi209, Pb206, Pb207 and Pb208 to reach the presumed fission thresholds. We have searched for the fission of lead and bismuth with fast neutrons from the Li-D reaction by looking for any radio-iodine formed. In chemical methods for the measurement of fission-rates, very much larger amounts of material can be used than in fission chambers. On the other hand, chemical methods in a hypothetical process are based on the admittedly uncertain assumption that the element selected would appear as a fission product. We have chosen iodine as it is in the middle of one of the groups of fission products from uranium, and several of its isotopes are produced abundantly with this element. The ease of extraction of iodine was the reason why Libby2 used it in an experiment to set a limit to the spontaneous fission-rate in uranium.

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  1. Mattauch and Flügge, "Kernphysikalische Tabellen" (Berlin, 1942), 66.

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  2. Libby, Phys. Rev., 55, 1269 (1939).

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  3. Richards, Phys. Rev., 59, 796 (1941); extrapolated to lower energies in agreement with Bonner and Brubaker, Phys. Rev., 48, 742 (1935).

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BRODA, E., WRIGHT, P. Determination of the Upper Limits of the Fission Cross-sections of Lead and Bismuth for Li-D Neutrons by a Chemical Method. Nature 158, 871–872 (1946).

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