# 30.7 Tunneling

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• Define and discuss tunneling.
• Define potential barrier.
• Explain quantum tunneling.

Protons and neutrons are bound inside nuclei, that means energy must be supplied to break them away. The situation is analogous to a marble in a bowl that can roll around but lacks the energy to get over the rim. It is bound inside the bowl (see [link] ). If the marble could get over the rim, it would gain kinetic energy by rolling down outside. However classically, if the marble does not have enough kinetic energy to get over the rim, it remains forever trapped in its well.

In a nucleus, the attractive nuclear potential is analogous to the bowl at the top of a volcano (where the “volcano” refers only to the shape). Protons and neutrons have kinetic energy, but it is about 8 MeV less than that needed to get out (see [link] ). That is, they are bound by an average of 8 MeV per nucleon. The slope of the hill outside the bowl is analogous to the repulsive Coulomb potential for a nucleus, such as for an $\alpha$ particle outside a positive nucleus. In $\alpha$ decay, two protons and two neutrons spontaneously break away as a ${}^{4}\text{He}$ unit. Yet the protons and neutrons do not have enough kinetic energy to get over the rim. So how does the $\alpha$ particle get out?

The answer was supplied in 1928 by the Russian physicist George Gamow (1904–1968). The $\alpha$ particle tunnels through a region of space it is forbidden to be in, and it comes out of the side of the nucleus. Like an electron making a transition between orbits around an atom, it travels from one point to another without ever having been in between. [link] indicates how this works. The wave function of a quantum mechanical particle varies smoothly, going from within an atomic nucleus (on one side of a potential energy barrier) to outside the nucleus (on the other side of the potential energy barrier). Inside the barrier, the wave function does not become zero but decreases exponentially, and we do not observe the particle inside the barrier. The probability of finding a particle is related to the square of its wave function, and so there is a small probability of finding the particle outside the barrier, which implies that the particle can tunnel through the barrier. This process is called barrier penetration    or quantum mechanical tunneling    . This concept was developed in theory by J. Robert Oppenheimer (who led the development of the first nuclear bombs during World War II) and was used by Gamow and others to describe $\alpha$ decay.

#### Questions & Answers

Need help solving this problem (2/7)^-2
Simone Reply
what is the coefficient of -4×
Mehri Reply
-1
Shedrak
the operation * is x * y =x + y/ 1+(x × y) show if the operation is commutative if x × y is not equal to -1
Alfred Reply
An investment account was opened with an initial deposit of $9,600 and earns 7.4% interest, compounded continuously. How much will the account be worth after 15 years? Kala Reply lim x to infinity e^1-e^-1/log(1+x) given eccentricity and a point find the equiation Moses Reply 12, 17, 22.... 25th term Alexandra Reply 12, 17, 22.... 25th term Akash College algebra is really hard? Shirleen Reply Absolutely, for me. My problems with math started in First grade...involving a nun Sister Anastasia, bad vision, talking & getting expelled from Catholic school. When it comes to math I just can't focus and all I can hear is our family silverware banging and clanging on the pink Formica table. Carole I'm 13 and I understand it great AJ I am 1 year old but I can do it! 1+1=2 proof very hard for me though. Atone hi Adu Not really they are just easy concepts which can be understood if you have great basics. I am 14 I understood them easily. Vedant find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387 Jerwin Reply I know this work salma The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1) virgelyn Reply hmm well what is the answer Abhi If f(x) = x-2 then, f(3) when 5f(x+1) 5((3-2)+1) 5(1+1) 5(2) 10 Augustine how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4 kinnecy Reply make 5/4 into a mixed number, make that a decimal, and then multiply 32 by the decimal 5/4 turns out to be AJ how Sheref can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations. Jeffrey Reply sure. what is your question? ninjadapaul 20/(×-6^2) Salomon okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer ninjadapaul I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean ninjadapaul it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared Salomon I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way Salomon I got X =-6 Salomon ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6 ninjadapaul oops. ignore that. ninjadapaul so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation? ninjadapaul hmm Abhi is it a question of log Abhi 🤔. Abhi I rally confuse this number And equations too I need exactly help salma But this is not salma it's Faiza live in lousvile Ky I garbage this so I am going collage with JCTC that the of the collage thank you my friends salma Commplementary angles Idrissa Reply hello Sherica im all ears I need to learn Sherica right! what he said ⤴⤴⤴ Tamia hii Uday hi salma hi Ayuba Hello opoku hi Ali greetings from Iran Ali salut. from Algeria Bach hi Nharnhar what is a good calculator for all algebra; would a Casio fx 260 work with all algebra equations? please name the cheapest, thanks. Kevin Reply a perfect square v²+2v+_ Dearan Reply A soccer field is a rectangle 130 meters wide and 110 meters long. The coach asks players to run from one corner to the other corner diagonally across. What is that distance, to the nearest tenths place. Kimberly Reply Jeannette has$5 and \$10 bills in her wallet. The number of fives is three more than six times the number of tens. Let t represent the number of tens. Write an expression for the number of fives.
August Reply
What is the expressiin for seven less than four times the number of nickels
Leonardo Reply
How do i figure this problem out.
how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
linda Reply
why surface tension is zero at critical temperature
Shanjida
I think if critical temperature denote high temperature then a liquid stats boils that time the water stats to evaporate so some moles of h2o to up and due to high temp the bonding break they have low density so it can be a reason
s.
Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
Crystal Reply
. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, College physics -- hlca 1104. OpenStax CNX. May 18, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11525/1.1
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