Basic

Neutron Capture

Before we talk any further about fission it is useful to have a look at what other things can happen to the neutrons. One thing that can happen is that they can be captured by a nucleus. The atom that captures the neutron remains the same element (since the atomic number remains the same) but […]

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Very Heavy Atoms – Fission

Spontaneous Fission For heavy elements (greater than mass 232) the nucleus can split into two smaller elements and a few spare neutrons. This is called spontaneous fission. For example Uranium 235 can decay into Barium-141 and Krypton 92 With fission the atom can split in very many different ways although the ratio of the atomic […]

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Atomic Mass and Stability – Alpha Decay

As atomic mass increases the stability of the nucleus increases but after a while they become too heavy and the stability decreases. The graph above shows how the energy changes with atomic number. Note that the energy axis goes the other way to the way you would expect. I have shown the graph this way […]

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Proton to Neutron Ratios and the Stability of Nuclei – Beta Radiation

Adding more neutrons to the nucleus does not change the chemical properties of the atom. A hydrogen atom with one or even two neutrons has the same chemical properties as normal hydrogen. However the number of neutrons does affect the physical properties. As neutrons are added to the nucleus their energy increases with respect to […]

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What Is Radiation

Radiation is just the term for something that can travel through empty space. It could be a particle or a wave. There are many different sorts. However, we can make a distinction between radiation that does not have the energy to break chemical bonds (called non-ionising) and those that can break chemical bonds (called ionising). […]

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The Structure Of Matter

Before we go any further we have to understand what makes up the matter around us – the computer in front of me, the air around us and even ourselves. We are all made up of atoms. The word atom means “indivisible” or “that which cannot be split”. You don’t really want to be saying […]

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Introduction

Before we start on the subject of nuclear physics there are a few fundamentals that we have to understand: Energy Without energy nothing would happen. For example energy is needed to make things move and to make chemical reactions happen. I am not going to tell you what energy is because it is rather a […]

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