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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the synthesis of transuranium nuclides
  • Explain nuclear fission and fusion processes
  • Relate the concepts of critical mass and nuclear chain reactions
  • Summarize basic requirements for nuclear fission and fusion reactors

After the discovery of radioactivity, the field of nuclear chemistry was created and developed rapidly during the early twentieth century. A slew of new discoveries in the 1930s and 1940s, along with World War II, combined to usher in the Nuclear Age in the mid-twentieth century. Science learned how to create new substances, and certain isotopes of certain elements were found to possess the capacity to produce unprecedented amounts of energy, with the potential to cause tremendous damage during war, as well as produce enormous amounts of power for society’s needs during peace.

Synthesis of nuclides

Nuclear transmutation is the conversion of one nuclide into another. It can occur by the radioactive decay of a nucleus, or the reaction of a nucleus with another particle. The first manmade nucleus was produced in Ernest Rutherford’s laboratory in 1919 by a transmutation reaction, the bombardment of one type of nuclei with other nuclei or with neutrons. Rutherford bombarded nitrogen atoms with high-speed α particles from a natural radioactive isotope of radium and observed protons resulting from the reaction:

7 14 N + 2 4 He 8 17 O + 1 1 H

The 8 17 O and 1 1 H nuclei that are produced are stable, so no further (nuclear) changes occur.

To reach the kinetic energies necessary to produce transmutation reactions, devices called particle accelerators are used. These devices use magnetic and electric fields to increase the speeds of nuclear particles. In all accelerators, the particles move in a vacuum to avoid collisions with gas molecules. When neutrons are required for transmutation reactions, they are usually obtained from radioactive decay reactions or from various nuclear reactions occurring in nuclear reactors. The Chemistry in Everyday Life feature that follows discusses a famous particle accelerator that made worldwide news.

Cern particle accelerator

Located near Geneva, the CERN (“Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire,” or European Council for Nuclear Research) Laboratory is the world’s premier center for the investigations of the fundamental particles that make up matter. It contains the 27-kilometer (17 mile) long, circular Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest particle accelerator in the world ( [link] ). In the LHC, particles are boosted to high energies and are then made to collide with each other or with stationary targets at nearly the speed of light. Superconducting electromagnets are used to produce a strong magnetic field that guides the particles around the ring. Specialized, purpose-built detectors observe and record the results of these collisions, which are then analyzed by CERN scientists using powerful computers.

Two photos are shown and labeled “a” and “b.” Photo a shows an aerial view of the Large Hadron Collider. Photo b shows a tunnel of concrete with rails on the ground and tubes and wires running along the wall. Two people walk along the tunnel.
A small section of the LHC is shown with workers traveling along it. (credit: Christophe Delaere)

In 2012, CERN announced that experiments at the LHC showed the first observations of the Higgs boson, an elementary particle that helps explain the origin of mass in fundamental particles. This long-anticipated discovery made worldwide news and resulted in the awarding of the 2103 Nobel Prize in Physics to François Englert and Peter Higgs, who had predicted the existence of this particle almost 50 years previously.

Questions & Answers

what is the periodic table all about
Godstime Reply
am new here looking forward on learning new stuff
Godstime
answer me please
Godstime
yeah
samuel
it's about predicting the different types of matter around us and organizing them in an elegant way
William
what is boyle law
Daniel Reply
the law states that at a constant absolute temperature the volume of a fixed of a gas is inversely proportional to the pressure of the gas...
Johnson
write short not on paper chromAtogphy
Ujunwa Reply
I am sorry, I don't understand the question. Are you referring to photospectometry, a machine that uses lightwaves to determine the chemical composition of a substance? Instead of the "coffee filter and solvent" method which is more crude, but simple enough to understand basic concepts.
Melissa
kkk
samuel
what is esterification?
Darey Reply
Esterification is the general name for a chemical reaction in which two reactants (typically an alcohol and an acid) form an ester(-COOR) as the reaction product....
Johnson
pls i dont know chemistry wat shall i do?
Chancha
Please...what do you mean by you don't know chemistry..can you explain further
Johnson
I am afraid you may end up injuring yourself working with these chemical processes with limited lab experience. Please be extremely careful. Research chem analysis, precedure and equipment.
Melissa
Kkk
samuel
Pls can I be enlighten about boys law on chemistry
samuel
how we Learn full periodic table
muhammad Reply
how
Imran
Hello guys am new here my name is Angel from Nigeria how are u guys doing?
Angel Reply
Gud am from Nigeria too my name is sav
Michael
explain the atomic orbital
Masti Reply
2nacl➡️2na+cl2 2.58.5g 22.4l
suvarthavani Reply
what is neclear energy
Moyosoreoluwa Reply
nuclear energy is the energy released during nuclear fission or fusion.especially when used to generate electricity
Inusah
How many processes to break down CARBON DIOXIDE into carbon and oxygen
Prabhakar Reply
biology is my best subject
Oseni Reply
o really
Ajila
biology quick chemistry ass
Izadora
You're in the wrong place lmao
Zeus
hi Guy
Charles
hello
daniel
hy
Kareem
How are you guys
daniel
fine and u
Kareem
were are you guys from?
Izadora
l'm from Nigeria
Kareem
Brazil
Izadora
please someone should ask question
Kareem
like what
Izadora
Am from malawi
Hele
I'm from Nigeria, my name is Vincent. what is the relationship between volume an temperature?
Vincent
who is the father of chemistry?
Vincent
hey guys I'm new to the conservation, my name is Vincent from Nigeria, how are you guys doing?
Vincent
fine
Kareem
the relationship between volume and temperature is. volume is directly proportional to temperature
Inusah
Antoine lavoisier
Ujunwa
good evening everyone my name is Maryann
Ujunwa
an acid is any substance which when dissolved in water produces hydrogen ion as its only positive ion
Ezemadu Reply
its just me or you guys also hate chemistry?
Izadora
I partially hate it
Oseni
there's some parts that I actually like to study
Izadora
sometimes
Izadora
tell me about it
Oseni
like radiation
Izadora
physics have this too
Izadora
good evening everyone my name is Maryann
Ujunwa
Why acid is sour in taste. Please don't say naturally because there are a scientific reason in all natural thing
Prabhakar Reply
since it has a negatively charge nitrogen ions
Elvis
sorry, positively hydrogen ions, which has a pH less than 7
Elvis
Corrct, as the H+ ion concentration increases acidity increases.
Aakash
because it's pH value is smaller than 7.
Raju
what is molecules
samuel
what is acid
Faree
How we make negative mass
Prabhakar Reply
How we make negative and positive matters
Prabhakar Reply
matters are neutral in general.
Rakesh
It becomes positive or negative when they either loss or gain electrones .
Rakesh
Have you any doubt regarding the first question that you had asked.
Rakesh
It also depends upon the nature of matter either it is metal or non metal.
Aakash
Basically matter never be a positive or negative. Matter can only be change into postive ion or negative ion.
Aakash
Bromine is a nonmetal liquid. Can you say that Bromine is negatively changed.
Rakesh
Because, Bromine here forming Covalent bond.
Rakesh
Isolated gaseous atom of bromine can be changed in negative charge atom.
Aakash

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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