Definition of subcritical in US English:



  • 1Below a critical threshold.

    • ‘The US has not performed a nuclear test in 10 years, although it has conducted at least 17 subcritical tests - the most recent in August - which are allowed under the CTBT.’
    • ‘At subcritical forward velocities, here less than 0.16 nL / sec, the template predicts that no stable gaits exist.’
    1. 1.1 (in nuclear physics) containing or involving less than the critical mass.
      • ‘Notwithstanding, the U.S. government continues to possess and maintain approximately 10,000 nuclear weapons, and is conducting an ongoing program of subcritical nuclear testing.’
      • ‘The most obvious was the gun assembly technique, in which two subcritical masses of enriched uranium were explosively driven and held together until nuclear fission began and was sustained.’
      • ‘She watched the reactor output climb until the drive was subcritical.’
      • ‘When the fuse is triggered, a conventional explosion causes the second subcritical mass to be propelled at a high velocity into the first subcritical mass.’
      • ‘In a fission bomb, the fuel must be kept in separate subcritical masses, which will not support fission, to prevent premature detonation.’
    2. 1.2 (of a flow of fluid) slower than the speed at which waves travel in the fluid.
      • ‘At 20°C the solution has a critical point at ionic strengths of ~ 13 mM and becomes increasingly subcritical as the ionic strength is lowered.’