The neutron bomb uses essentially the same technology as a hydrogen or thermonuclear bomb. An atomic explosion is used to set off a hydrogen chain reaction, which converts isotopes of hydrogen into helium and releases tremendous amounts of energy. The difference between the neutron bomb and ordinary nuclear warheads is the jacket of material which surrounds it. In the neutron bomb this jacket is designed to convert as much of the energy in the nuclear explosion as possible into neutrons, which are subatomic particles.
These high-energy neutrons have the characteristic of being lethal to living things without leaving behind an extremely radioactive environment. A neutron bomb with an explosive force equivalent to 2000 tons of TNT could produce as many killing neu tron rays as a standard nuclear bomb of 20,000 tons.