22.05 | Fall 2009 | Undergraduate

Neutron Science and Reactor Physics


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description

This course introduces fundamental properties of the neutron. It covers reactions induced by neutrons, nuclear fission, slowing down of neutrons in infinite media, diffusion theory, the few-group approximation, point kinetics, and fission-product poisoning. It emphasizes the nuclear physics bases of reactor design and its relationship to reactor engineering problems.

Course Structure


Lewis, Elmer E. Fundamentals of Nuclear Reactor Physics. Burlington, MA: Academic Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780123706317.

Additional Resources

Duderstadt, James J., and Louis J. Hamilton. Nuclear Reactor Analysis. 1st ed. New York, NY: Wiley, 1976. ISBN: 9780471223634.

Lamarsh, John R., and Anthony J. Baratta. Introduction to Nuclear Engineering. 3rd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2001. ISBN: 9780201824988.


Eight problem sets will be assigned and graded during the semester. The seven highest marks will be averaged and will count towards 20% of the final grade. Homework should ideally be made individually. You may work and get help from classmates, but please do not copy of each other. Also, feel free to use prior year’s material for additional help (e.g. MIT OpenCourseWare).


Homework 20%
Exam 1 20%
Exam 2 20%
Exam 3 20%
Final exam 20%

MIT Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism—use of another’s intellectual work without acknowledgement—is a serious offense. It is the policy of the Literature Faculty that students who plagiarize will receive an F in the subject, and that the instructor will forward the case to the Committee on Discipline. Full acknowledgement for all information obtained from sources outside the classroom must be clearly stated in all written work submitted. All ideas, arguments, and direct phrasings taken from someone else’s work must be identified and properly footnoted. Quotations from other sources must be clearly marked as distinct from the student’s own work. For further guidance on the proper forms of attribution, consult the style guides available at the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Web site on Plagiarism.


1 Reactor Fundamentals / Nomenclature / Nuclear Reactions / Nuclear Stability  
2 Neutron Sources / Binding Energy / Fission Process / Chart of Nuclides  
3 Radioactive Decay / Cross-Sections  
4 Compound Nucleus / Resonances / Neutron Scattering Problem set 1 due
5 Neutron Slowing Down / Neutron Flux / Moderators / Energy Condensation  
6 Power Reactors I (LWRs / Neutron Life Cycle) Problem set 2 due
7 Power Reactors II (CANDU / Advanced LWRs, Gas Reactors, …)  
8 Exam Review and Homework 3 Rreview Problem set 3 due
9 Exam 1 (Chapters 1-4)  
10 Transport Equation  
11 Criticality / Flux / Current / BCs Problem set 4 due
12 Kinetics Approximation  
13 Delayed Neutrons / Photoneutrons / Inhour Problem set 5 due
14 Prompt Jump Approximation  
15 Exam 2 (Chapter 5 and Transport Equation Notes)  
16 Diffusion Equation - One Group  
17 Non-Multiplying Systems / Multiplying Systems  
18 Diffusion – Two Groups Problem set 6 due
19 Bare Reactors / Reflectors  
20 Control Rods / Burnable Poisons Problem set 7 due
21 Exam 3 (Chapters 6-7)  
22 Energy Transport  
23 Reactivity Feedback / Transients Problem set 8 due
24 Reactor Control / Xenon / Samarium  
25 Depletion / MA  
26 Final Exam (Chapters 1-10)  

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2009
Learning Resource Types
Problem Sets
Lecture Notes