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The Theory of Neutron Wave Propagation


Duderstadt, James Johnson (1968) The Theory of Neutron Wave Propagation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/2X5F-DQ88.


The objectives of this thesis include the development of an exact theory of neutron wave propagation in non-multiplying media as well as the application of this theory to analyze current experimental work.

An initial study is made of the eigenvalue spectrum of the velocity-dependent Boltzmann transport operator for plane wave propagation in both noncrystalline and polycrystalline moderators. The point spectrum is discussed in detail, and a theorem concerning the existence of discrete eigenvalues for high frequency, high absorption, and/or small transverse dimensions is demonstrated. The limiting cases of low and high frequency behavior are analyzed. A physical interpretation of the discrete and continuum eigenfunctions (plane wave modes) is given, and the point spectrum existence theorem is explained in the light of such interpretations.

Using this spectral representation, a technique for solving full-range boundary value problems for a general noncrystalline scattering kernel ~s presented. Orthogonality and completeness of the eigenfunctions are demonstrated, and the problem of a plane source at the origin of an infinite medium is solved. This solution is compared with that obtained by a Fourier transform technique. A procedure for solving half- range boundary value problems is presented for a one-term separable kernel model. For purposes of illustration, the problem of an oscillating source incident upon the boundary of a half-space is solved. The difficulty in extending the half-range theory to more general scattering models is discussed.

The second part of the thesis proceeds to demonstrate this theory in more detail by applying it to analyze recent neutron wave experiments in graphite and D2O parallelepipeds. To facilitate the interpretation of the general solution, the inelastic scattering kernel is approximated by a separable kernel, while the elastic scattering is modeled with a Dirac δ-function. The eigenvalue spectrum is analyzed in some detail, revealing several interesting conclusions concerning the experimental data and methods of data analysis. Several modifications in experimental design and analysis are suggested.

The agreement of the theory with experiment is sufficient to warrant its application to the analysis of more complicated experiments (multiple·-region, multiplying media, pulse propagation, etc.). Several suggestions for such extensions are indicated.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Engineering Science and Physics). ; neutron wave propagation
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Engineering
Minor Option:Physics
Awards:Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award, 1989
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Lurie, Harold (advisor)
  • Corngold, Noel Robert (advisor)
Group:Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award
Thesis Committee:
  • Lurie, Harold (chair)
  • Corngold, Noel Robert
  • Shapiro, Jerome L.
  • Leonard, Anthony
Defense Date:16 November 1967
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-06032004-144322
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2419
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:04 Jun 2004
Last Modified:01 Apr 2024 21:32

Thesis Files

PDF (Duderstadt_jj_1968.pdf) - Final Version
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