"Theoretical Standard Model Rates of Proton to Neutron Conversions Near Metallic Hydride Surfaces" by A. Widom and L. Larsen soon will be submitted to a refereed journal and is preceded by three related publications by us that are referenced and briefly summarized below.
This paper aims to answer an important question posed by many astute readers of our earlier publications on this subject. Assuming that one accepts the rest of our physics, can we show computations demonstrating that these claimed proton to ultra low momentum neutron conversions can take place at the substantial rates observed in the laboratory?
In the attached paper, we discuss how to compute low energy nuclear reaction rates for the process of radiation-induced electron capture by protons or deuterons producing new ultra low momentum neutrons and neutrinos.
For protons or deuterons in the neighborhoods of surfaces of condensed matter metallic hydride chemical cell cathodes, the radiation energy required for such nuclear reactions may be supplied by the applied voltage required to push a strong charged electric currents through certain chemical cells.
The rates of the resulting ultra low momentum neutron production are computed from the standard electroweak theory in satisfactory agreement with the available experimental data.
We think our theory can explain all of the major features exhibited in many seemingly anomalous experiments (historical and collectively known as cold fusion) that have been regarded by many nuclear physicists as theoretically inexplicable.
In contrast to other earlier theories, involving penetration of Coulomb barriers, our new theory of low energy nuclear reactions uses the well-accepted standard model of electroweak interaction physics. We think that the key process responsible for producing most of the experimentally observed anomalies is not a form of fusion.
On the contrary, we believe that the key processes driving the behavior of these systems are weak interactions. In that regard, our work extends well-accepted Standard Model physics to include collective effects in condensed matter. No new microscopic physics is assumed or is necessary to explain the data.
Prior Related Widom-Larsen Publications
Text provided by Lew Larsen:
1. "Ultra Low Momentum Neutron Catalyzed Nuclear Reactions on Metallic Hydride Surfaces," published in March 2006 in The European Physical Journal C - Particles and Fields.
The mass of electrons embedded in collectively oscillating surface plasma oscillations can be markedly increased (renormalized) by the extremely high electric fields (> 10*11 volt/meter) occurring in surface layers of protons or deuterons of loaded metallic hydrides. The resulting "heavy" electrons can react spontaneously with local protons or deuterons to produce neutrons and neutrinos.
Neutrons created collectively under these conditions have almost virtually zero momentum or equivalently very long quantum mechanical wavelengths which dramatically increase neutron absorption in the neighborhood of condensed matter surfaces. These ultra low momentum neutrons can catalyze local nuclear reaction networks. Examples of such reactions are provided.
2. "Nuclear Abundances in Metallic Hydride Electrodes of Electrolytic Chemical Cells" [Cornell arXiv physics preprint server - arXiv:cond-mat/0602472 v1 20 February 2006, also submitted to a peer-reviewed journal]
This preprint discusses a model for the anomalous patterns of nuclear abundances experimentally observed in metallic hydride cathodes of electrolytic chemical cells. These experimental transmuted nuclear abundances have been something of a scientific enigma since they were first published by George H. Miley. The data is interpreted as primarily the result of a neutron absorption spectrum.
Ultra low momentum neutrons are produced (along with virtually inert neutrinos) by the weak interaction annihilation of electrons and protons when the chemical cell is driven strongly out of equilibrium. Appreciable quantities of these neutrons are produced on the surface of a metal hydride cathode in an electrolytic cell. The ultra low momentum of these neutrons implies extremely large cross sections for absorption by various "seed" nuclei present on or near the surface of a cathode in a chemical cell, increasing their nuclear masses. The increasing masses eventually lead to instabilities relieved by beta decay processes, thereby increasing the nuclear charge. In this manner most of the periodic table of chemical elements may be produced, at least to some extent.
The experimentally observed pattern of distinctive peaks and valleys in the transmuted nuclear mass-spectrum reflects the neutron absorption resonance peaks as theoretically computed employing a simple and conventional neutron optical model potential well.
An intriguing possibility is briefly noted in the paper. The varieties of different elements and isotopes that we find in the world around us were thought to arise exclusively from nuclear reactions in stars and supernova explosions.
However, recent astrophysical calculations have indicated some weaknesses in the above picture regarding the strengths of the neutron flux created in a supernova.
Our paper says, "It appears entirely possible that ultra low momentum neutron absorption may have an important role to play in the nuclear abundances not only in chemical cells but also in our local solar system and galaxy."
3. "Absorption of Nuclear Gamma Radiation by Heavy Electrons on Metallic Hydride Surfaces," [Cornell arXiv physics preprint server - arXiv:cond-mat/0509269 v1 10 September 2005, also submitted to a peer-reviewed journal]
This preprint provides a theoretical explanation for effective suppression of gamma radiation and efficient absorption of ultra low momentum neutrons in LENR systems. It explains why neutron absorption by nearby nuclei in LENR systems do not result in the external release of large, easily observable fluxes of hard energetic gammas and X-rays. Specifically, we show that surface electrons bathed in already soft radiation can convert the hard gamma radiation into soft radiation. The number of gammas in the energetic region from 0.5 MeV to 10.0 MeV is strongly suppressed at the condensed matter surface, and the energy appears as softer (less energetic) heat radiation. The short mean free paths of both ultra low momentum neutrons and hard gamma radiation are computed in the neighborhood of condensed matter surfaces. In LENR systems, the gamma absorbing layer of surface electrons already bathed in soft radiation has the ability to stop a very dangerous ~5 MeV gamma ray in less than two nanometers -- two-billionths of a meter. With existing materials technologies, it would take ~10 cm of lead, ~25 cm of steel, or ~1 meter of very heavy concrete to accomplish the same degree of shielding.