A nuclide that is capable of undergoing fission after capturing low-energy thermal (slow) neutrons. Although sometimes used as a synonym for fissionable material, this term has acquired its more-restrictive interpretation with the limitation that the nuclide must be fissionable by thermal neutrons. With that interpretation, the three primary fissile materials are uranium-233, uranium-235, and plutonium-239. This definition excludes natural uranium and depleted uranium that have not been irradiated, or have only been irradiated in thermal reactors.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, March 09, 2021