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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 periodic chemistry
Joseph Reply
Le chatelier's principle
Adepoju Reply
how many isotopes does hydrogen have
Faith Reply
3 isotopes
FLIMZEE
3 isotopes
FLIMZEE
an lmportant medical use of nuclear radiation is
Faith Reply
the minimum amount of energy required for effective collosion btw reacting particle is known as
Faith
the minimum amount of energy required for effective collosion btw reacting particle is known as
Faith
hi
Best
hmmmmm
Aniebiet
the minimum amount of energy required for effective collosion btw reacting particle is known as
Faith
Hey
Faith
hi
Nag
how do I get MCQs and essay to work?
Jake Reply
I want spectroscopy
Nipun
Check on play store Maybe you'll get an app for that
Idrissa
what is electrolysis
lola Reply
state the periodic law
Kelly Reply
the modern periodic state dat element are arranged in row and column according to their atomic number
lola
what is chemistry
sullayman Reply
chemistry is the brach of science which deal with composition and dicomposion of matter
ezekier
What are the branchs of chemistry
Blessing
What is matter
Believe Reply
matter is anything that has mass or weight and accopies space
ezekier
what is endothermic
Yemi Reply
something that absorbs some form energy
mohammed
What is gas law
Clement Reply
law is the rule of government
Dawite
gas law I have no idea
Israel
There are different Gas Laws There's boyles law, Charles law... Etc
Kanji
can you be more specific
Allyson
wat is hydroxyl
James
why is borontrihydride considered a Lewis acid
Mmesoma Reply
electronic configuration
Elabo Reply
What is chemistry
Blessing Reply
it's is a branch of science that deals with the nature and composition of various matters and how the under go changes
Kelly
Pls what is the structural formula for propanonitrile
Olaiya Reply
chemistry is the study of the interaction, structure and properties of matter
Olaiya
If a man has a mass of 115 pounds,what is his mass in gram lb=453.6g?
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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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