Mean free path
Whitehead, W. Dexter Department of Physics, Center for Advanced Studies, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
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The average distance traveled between two similar events. The concept of mean free path is met in all fields of science and is classified by the events which take place. The concept is most useful in systems which can be treated statistically, and is most frequently used in the theoretical interpretation of transport phenomena in gases and solids, such as diffusion, viscosity, heat conduction, and electrical conduction. The types of mean free paths which are used most frequently are for elastic collisions of molecules in a gas, of electrons in a crystal, of phonons in a crystal, and of neutrons in a moderator.
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