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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 a balanced equation 4 trioxonitrate (V)acid and sodium hydroxide?
Marcel Reply
proved ur Worth: If A is a of trioxonitrate(V)acid,HNO3' of unknown concentration .B is a standard solution of sodium hydroxide containing 4.00g per dm cube of solution.25cm cube portions solution B required an average of 24.00cm cube of solution A for neutralization,using 2 drops of methyl orange.
Marcel
calculate the concentration of solution B in moles per dm cube
Marcel
calculate the concentration of solution A and B in moles per DM cube
Marcel
finally calculate the concentration in g/dm cube of HNO3 in solution A (H=1,N=14,O=16,Na=23)
Marcel
calculate the standard enthalpy of formation for propane(C3H8) from the following data; 1), C3H8+5O2->3CO2+4H2O; -222.0kJ/mol 2), C+O2->CO2;-395.5kJ/mol 3),H2+O->H2O; 285.8kJ/mol
Josephine
let eventually of formation of propane = X X + (-222)=3×(-395.5)+4×(-286) rearrange to find X
Paul
wat is electrolysis?
Mgbachi Reply
it is the chemical decomposition of a substance when electric current is passed through it either in molten form or aqueous solution
Nuru
list the side effect of chemical industries
Chelsea Reply
how do you ionise an atom
Rabeka Reply
many ways ,but one of them is when the atom becomes heated to a certain temperature the surface electron becomes too energetic and leaves the atom because the attraction between the nucleus and the electron becomes overpowered by the energetic eletron
sunday
also hitting of two atoms can cause transfer of surface electrons
sunday
and when this transfers occur the atom becomes ionised
sunday
who is doing Cape chemistry tomorrow?
caramel Reply
What is hybridization
edmondnti Reply
the mix between different breeds of species in one
Jared
it is the blending of orbitals.
stanley
the mixing of orbital
caramel
are covalent bonds influenced by factors such as temperature and pressure?
patrick Reply
what is catalyst used for mirror test
Sanjay Reply
when an atom looses electron, what does it become?
Abdullahi Reply
it's oxidized and called an ion
Anora
thanks
Abdullahi
Now, I get it
Abdullahi
cation
Anora
can you give an example please, if you don't mind
Abdullahi
a positive ion,become positively charged/a cation.
Janis
sodium plus one is simple cation is exmpl
ajmal
Taking Sodium as example..... it carries a positive charge which means it is positively charged.....when it gains an electron, it is reduced cuz an electron is negatively charged.....also when an atom looses an electron, it becomes positively charged and when it gains, it becomes negatively charged.
Nuru
typically, ionization is the process where an atom looses or gains electron(s) to form ion(s) either a positively or negatively
Nuru
what is copper
Bryan Reply
just an element
Power
Cu
daniel
Why is water a single covalent bond?
Mohamed Reply
nitrogen is a gas whereas phosphorus is solid .Explain.
Jacky Reply
can you explain what you are needing it now better than maybe I'm just not interpreting it what you're needing to know
Alex
cool nitrogen down to around negative 270 °F and it will be solid. now they are both solid
daniel
they are different elements and dats how they are pal.....check the periodic table
Nuru
Nitrogen is a diatomic molecule with relatively weak van de waals forces between the molecules. These forces are overcome when the solid melts or liquid evaporates. Phosphorus forms larger molecules consisting of four phosphorus atoms in a tetradedral shape. The intermolecular forces are stronger
Paul
whats a base
Daksalma Reply
A base is a substance which will neutralize an acid to yield salt and water only
Zainab
base is a substance that produces OH(aq) ions in aqueous solution. Strong soluable bases are in water and are completely dislocated. Therefore weak base ionize slightly...
Roy
a base is a substance that neutralise and acid to form salt and water
Daksalma
write electrolysis of bright solution using either carbon or platinum and write the reaction at the anode or at the cathode
Abdullah Reply
what is the H3O of a solution with the pH of 2.5
Sgt.Elliott_98 Reply
pH<7, therefore there are only H3O+HX3OX+particles in the solution. [H3O+]=10−pH=10−6.99=1.02⋅10−7[HX3OX+]=10−pH=10−6.99=1.02⋅10−7 When the pH is smaller than 6 or greater than 8, one will not notice the difference, but here it is logarithmically speaking  and I'll give you another one if this is ki
Alex
if I'm answering and interpreting what you're asking correctly
Alex
When the pH is smaller than 6 or greater than 8, one will not notice the difference, but here it is logarithmically speaking 
Alex
sorry I don't know why that sent again
Alex
We have [H3O+]=10−pH=10−6.99=1.02⋅10−7[HX3OX+]=10−pH=10−6.99=1.02⋅10−7 and [OH−]=10−pOH=10−7.01=9.77⋅10−8[OHX−]=10−pOH=10−7.01=9.77⋅10−8.  Because of H3O++OH−⟶2H2OHX3OX++OHX−⟶2HX2O we are left with [H3O+]=1.02⋅10−7−9.77⋅10−8=4.6⋅10−9
Alex

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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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