The splitting of an atom, which releases a considerable amount of energy (usually in the form of heat) that can be used to produce electricity. Fission may be spontaneous, but is usually caused by the nucleus of an atom becoming unstable (or "heavy") after capturing or absorbing a neutron. During fission, the heavy nucleus splits into roughly equal parts, producing the nuclei of at least two lighter elements. In addition to energy, this reaction usually releases gamma radiation and two or more daughter neutrons.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, March 09, 2021