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Nuclear Properties

Elementary Nuclear Physics PG-111

Lecture by: Dr. Zahra Ali

Atomic Nuclei

The protons and neutrons have both wave and particle properties just like
electrons and the interactions are very complicated

Later we will find that both protons and neutrons are NOT elementary
particles like electrons but have an internal structure and are made of

Nuclear Notation

atomic mass = A

atomic number = Z = number of protons (+) = number of

electrons ()

AZ = number of neutrons (no charge) = N

e.g. 238U.
A = 238 and U has Z = 92 protons. Therefore, 146 neutrons.

Nuclear Mass & Binding Energy

Nuclear Units

Nuclear energies are very high compared to atomic

processes, and need larger units

Nuclear sizes are quite small and need smaller units

Nuclear masses are measured in terms of atomic mass

units (amu, u) with the carbon-12 nucleus defined as
having a mass of exactly 12 amu.

It is also common practice to quote the rest mass energy

E = mc2 as if it were the mass. The conversion to amu is:
1amu = 1.6605 x 10-27 kg = 931.5 MeV/c2

Binding Energy

The mass of any nuclide is less than the mass

of its constituent parts!!!

Where did the mass go?

Appears as the binding energy (energy of the

bonds between the nucleons)
B.E.(A,Z) = [ Zmp + Nmn (M-Zme) ] c2
B.E.(A,Z) = [ ZmH + Nmn - M(A,Z) ] c2

The binding energy is just missing mass times


Binding Energy per Nucleon Curve

If these atoms are split
into two nearly equal
parts energy is
released and again the
mass defect increases

Any alteration of the

nuclear structure which
causes a movement
towards this point
results in released
energy. In fact, there is
so much of this
element in the universe
because of its highest
mass defect
If these atoms can be
joined together to
form heavier atoms,
the mass defect
increases, so energy
has been

Contributions to Binding Energy

EB = strong nuclear force binding -surface tension binding-Coulomb repulsion
+Asymmetry Term + spin pairing+ shell binding
1) strong nuclear force -- the more nucleons the better
2) surface tension -- the less surface/volume the better (U better than He)
3) Coulomb repulsion -- packing more protons into nucleus comes at a cost (although
neutron addition will stabilize high Z nuclei)
4) Asymmetry Term -- Deviation from this symmetry
5) spin pairing -- neutrons and protons have + and - spins, paired spins better
6)shell binding -- nucleus has quantized shells which prefer to be filled (magic

Semi Empirical Mass Formula


Shell Model - data

T show sharp discontinuities near N,Z of
28, 50, 82, 126
BE for last n added: sharp discontinuities
near, 50, 82, 126
e.g., (d,p), (n,), ( ,n), (d,t) reactions
And, the observation of discrete photon
energies E emitted from nuclear deexcitation

Conclusion so far

Nuclear structure BEHAVES alike

electron structure
Magic number a Closed Shell


Conclusion so far

Nuclear structure BEHAVES alike

electron structure
Magic number a Closed Shell


Spherical symmetric


Total angular momentum = 0


Specially stable


Nuclear Forces

protons have a positive electric charge and neutrons

have no electric charge at all, there must be some sort
of extra force a force even stronger than the
electromagnetic force to hold these nuclei together.


Strong Nuclear Forces

force between nucleons has following properties:

These are very strong

short-range in order of 10-15 m force between nucleons

Strongly repulsive at very short separations

Strong force is charge symmetric