# A Look at Nuclear Science and Technology

Larry Foulke

2.2 Atomic and Nuclear Physics – The Einstein Connection Binding Energy and Nuclear Glue

The Nucleus
Neutrons
• Protons each carry a positive charge, so how is it possible to hold so many protons together in such a small volume?

Protons

• Answer: The (Strong) Nuclear Force
Image Source: See Note 1

(Strong) Nuclear Force
Coulomb Forces p p
repulsive no effect

p p

n
e

• (Strong) Nuclear Force
– Force between nucleons (protons and neutrons). – Extremely attractive force at ranges up to 2×10-15 m (≈ 2 nucleon diameters). – Force drops to zero beyond 2×10-15 m. – Force acts equally on protons and neutrons.
3

attractive

Nuclear Force p p
attractive

p p
no effect

n
e

Nuclear Stability
Lithium-7 Nucleus
n p n n p p n

• Nuclear Stability
– The attractive nuclear force and repulsive coulomb force exactly balance in a stable nucleus. – Any change in the nuclear composition will change the balance of forces.

Nuclear Force (Attractive) Coulomb Force (Repulsive)

– Lots of potential energy in the nucleus.
4

Nuclear Binding Energy
Due to the structure of the nucleus and the balance of forces, nucleons bound in a nucleus are more stable (have a lower energy) than free nucleons.

E=mc2
• When bound, each nucleon turns a small fraction of its mass into energy, which is typically radiated from the nucleus. • This binding energy must be added to the nucleus to remove (unbind) a nucleon.
Image Source: See Note 2
5

Nuclear Binding Energy
Mass Defect = Σ Massconstituents - Massbound nucleus
– Constituents may be individual nucleons or two (or more) nuclei. Example: 6Li + 6Li = 12C

• Mass Energy Equivalence: • Binding Energy:

E=m c2

Binding Energy =

[Σ Mass

constituents

- Massbound nucleus

]c

2

6

Nuclear Binding Energy
 The binding

p n

p n

2 protons = 2 x 1.007276 u = 2.014552 u 2 neutrons = 2 x 1.008665 u = 2.017330 u

Total mass of individual particles = 4.031882 u

p Total mass of bound nucleus = 4.001475 u n n p
Mass loss = 0.030407 u

energy can be seen as a mass defect between the weight of the nucleus and the individual (unbound) weights of its constituent nucleons.

u = abbreviation for  E=mc2 – Lots of amu Energy Released from mass defect worth energy for a very 28.3 MeV small mass defect (0.030407amy)(931.5MeV/amu)=28.3 Mev

Conversion Factors
• Mass  1 amu = 1 u = 1.661× 10-27 kg • Energy  1 eV = 1.602 × 10-19 Joule  1 Joule = 1 kg × m2 / s2 • Velocity (Speed of Light)  c = 2.998 × 108 m / s • Mass to Energy Conversion (E=mc2) 1 amu = 931.50 MeV
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Binding Energy Tips
• Nuclei are more stable than free nucleons. • The binding energy provides a measure of how tightly bound a nucleus is. • Nuclei with larger binding energies require more energy to break apart. • Binding Energy Per Nucleon – Gives a measure of the forces acting on each nucleon in the nucleus. – Amount of energy (average) required to rip a single nucleon out of the nucleus.
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Binding Energy Per Nucleon

Image Source: See Note 3

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Binding Energy Per Nucleon
Decreasing Nuclear Strength Decreasing Nuclear Strength

Most Tightly Bound (Nickel-62)
Image Source: See Note 3
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Binding Energy Example
Change in binding energy per nucleon

118 2 × 8.5 × 118 = 2006 MeV BE118 > BE235

236 7.5 × 236 = 1770 MeV

Tighter bound nuclei = Lower energy state

Reaction: 2×118 → 236, Add 236 MeV (endothermic) Reaction: 236 → 2×118, Remove 236 MeV (exothermic)
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Image Source: See Note 3

Binding Energy Example
D-T Fusion 4 (Helium)4 × 7 = 28 MeV

Change in binding energy per nucleon

BE4 > BE2 + BE3
Reaction: 2 + 3 → 4 (9+2)-(28)=-17 Remove 17 MeV (exothermic)

3 (Tritium) 3 × 3 Reaction: 4 → 2 + 3 = 9 MeV (28)-(9+2)=17 2 (Deuterium) 2 × 1 Add 17 MeV (endothermic) = 2 MeV
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Image Source: See Note 3

Image Source Notes
1. 2. 3. Creative Commons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Helium_atom_QM.svg Public domain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Einsteinformal_portrait-35.jpg Background graph in public domain. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Binding_energ y_curve_-_common_isotopes.svg; Overlay reprinted with permission from the American Nuclear Society. Nuclear Engineering – Theory and Technology of Commercial Nuclear Power by Ronald Allen Knief, 2nd Edition. Copyright 2008 by the American Nuclear Society, La Grange Park, Illinois. Figure 2-1.

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