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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

who are the alchemist?
Victor Reply
alchemy science of transmutation. typically it is aim at tranforming lead to or other base metals to gold and the creation of the philosophers stone which in reality isn't a stone it's something priceless something we all need for coming times. don't be fooled
read Corinthians 5 verses 50 to the end of the chapter then read revelations chapter 2 verse 17
What's the mass number of carbon
Charlie Reply
first Faraday's law
mass number of carbon is 12.
wat d atomic number of oxygen
atomic number of oxygen is 8
which quantum number divides shell into orbitals?
Tomiwa Reply
what is atom
Desmond Reply
an atom is a smallest indivisible part of an element
an atom is the smallest part of an element that takes part in a chemical reaction
wat is neutralization
Dubem Reply
when any acid reacts with base to decrease it's acidity or vice-versa to form salt and solvent.. which is called neutralization
explain buffer
buffer is a solution which resists changes in pH when acid or alkali added to it..
hello, who is online
buffer is the solution which resist the change in pH by addition of small amount of acid or alkali to it
neutralisation is the process of mixing of a acid and a base to form water and corresponding salt
how to solve equation on this
Princewill Reply
what are the elent of ionic and covalent bonding
what is gases
Wesike Reply
Its one of the fundamental sate of matter alone side with liquid, solid and plasma
What is chemical bonding
To my own definitions. It's a unit of measurement to express the amount of a chemical substance.
Ozoaniehe Reply
What is mole
It's the unit of measurements used to express the amount of chemical substance.
What is pressure
Stellamaris Reply
force over area
force applied per unit area
force applied per unit area
Why does carbonic acid don't react with metals
Aditya Reply
Why does carbonic acid don't react with metal
Some metals will react depending on their Standard Electrode Potential. Carbonic acid is a very weak acid (i.e. a low hydrogen ion concentration) so the rate of reaction is very low.
sample of carbon-12 has a mass of 6.00g. How many atoms of carbon-12 are in the sample
Emokiniovo Reply
a sample of carbon-12 has a mass of 6.00g. How many atoms of carbon-12 are in the sample
Sharmin Reply
an object of weight 10N immersed in a liquid displaces a quantity of d liquid.if d liquid displaced weights 6N.determine d up thrust of the object
ugonna Reply
how human discover earth is not flat
Jason Reply
We don't fall off. If set off in any direction in a straight line and keep going. You'll end up back where you started.
earth is spherical
Also, every other planet is spherical as that is the most energy efficient shape. gravity pulls equally on all areas. Sphere.

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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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