Theory for the Szilard-Chalmers Reaction
As is shown in the discussion of recoil energies in thermal n-capture reactions, chemical bounds can be broken due the recoil energy caused by the prompt γ-emission. This will lead to the creation of free radicals, which is very reactive. Therefore, a long list of new componds can be formed during n capture.
In 1934 L. Szilard and T. A. Chalmers showed that when Ethyliodide is irradiated with thermal neutrons, a large fraction of the radioactive nuclei created in the process will be present as free iodine atoms or iodine ions.
The bond breakage can typically lead to the following reacions: