Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Accelerating Neutrons
Name: Georgie M.
Status: student
Age: 17
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Thursday, August 22, 2002

Can neutrons be accelerated using some devices?


It is not easy to accelerate a neutron. Neutrons have no electric charge. Of the "long-distance" forces, electromagnetic force is the strongest. Electric and magnetic forces can be used to accelerate and steer protons and electrons quite well. The electric force has no effect on the neutron. All the magnetic force can do to a neutron is rotate it, kind of like a magnet rotating a compass.

You can accelerate a neutron by crashing other particles into it. Unfortunately, this often has undesirable effects. One of the most common is causing the neutron to change into a proton, an electron, and a neutrino. Whenever a neutron gets some extra energy from a collision, this decay is possible. When compared to protons and electrons, neutrons are very short-range, non-interactive particles.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Instructor
Illinois Central College

Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory