Uranium fission and plutonium production in the undergraduate lab

Jos Van Willigen, Casper Loman, Pjotr Thibaudier, David B.R.A. Fokkema, Tom W. Hijmans*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


An experiment in which the fission of uranium-238 upon bombardment with neutrons is demonstrated in the context of an undergraduate lab course. The occurrence of fission is shown by means of gamma spectroscopy which reveals the presence of the fission product strontium-92. In addition, we also investigate the reaction in which plutonium-239 is formed after neutron activation of the uranium, with neptunium-239 as an intermediary step. From the gamma spectra, it is found that both reactions are demonstrated with a significance of more than 5 σ. For the fission reaction, a cross section of (2.8 ± 1.4) × 10 - 2 barn is inferred.

Original languageEnglish
Article number200
Pages (from-to)200-206
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number3
Early online date1 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Uranium fission and plutonium production in the undergraduate lab'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this