Nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts (lighter nuclei). The fission process often produces free neutrons and photons (in the form of gamma rays) and releases a large amount of energy.
In nuclear physics, nuclear fission is either a nuclear reaction or a radioactive decay process. The case of the decay process is called spontaneous fission, and it is a very rare process. In this section, neutron-induced nuclear fission, the process of the greatest practical importance in reactor physics, will be discussed.
Basics of Nuclear Fission – for non-physicists