Scattering is a general term for several physical processes in which radiation of some sort changes direction due to an interaction with a particle. Scattering can be classified by the type of radiation (ie, electromagnetic, x-ray, neutron), or by the relative sizes of the wave and the particle (ie, Rayleigh, Mie, geometric).

Basically scattering phenomena, an essential tool in our understanding of microscopic physics - the physics of molecules, atoms, nuclei and elementary particles, refer to interactions between two classes of objects, such as molecules, atoms, electrons, photons and other particles.

  • For example: cosmic ray scattering in the Earth's upper atmosphere; particle collisions inside particle accelerators; electron scattering by gas atoms in fluorescent lamps; and neutron scattering inside nuclear reactors.
  • If the interaction potential between two types of objects is not precisely known, a scattering experiment gives us the opportunity to extract information about the interaction potential.
  • Depending on the state of the final-state particles scattering phenomena can be conveniently classified into the following processes.
    $(a)~$ Elastic scattering $~~~(b)~$ Inelastic scattering $~~~(c)~$ Rearrangement or breakup or reaction
  • Scattering theory is a framework for studying and understanding the scattering of waves and particles.