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of the Hydrogen Isotopes.
Author Bernard Schaeﬀer
Address 7, rue de l’Ambroisie, 75012, Paris, France
Email bschaeﬀer@wanadoo.fr
Abstract Bieler of the Rutherford laboratory imagined in 1924 a magnetic
attraction equilibrating an electrostatic repulsion between the protons. Since
the discovery of the neutron and the magnetic moments of the nucleons proving
that the neutron contains electric charges, nobody, as far as I know, has tried
to apply electromagnetism to the nuclear interaction. As it is well known,
there is an attraction between an electric charge and a neutral conductor. In
the deuteron, the positive charge of the neutron is repelled and the negative
charge is attracted by the proton with a net attraction. The repulsion between
the magnetic moments equilibrates the electrostatically induced attraction.
The calculated value is − 1.6 MeV not too far from the experimental value
(− 2.2 MeV ). The calculated 7 hydrogen isotopes stay satisfactorily along the
experimental isotopic parabola. No arbitrary ﬁtting parameter is used, only
universal physical constants. The electromagnetic theory predicts a theoretical
ratio between nuclear and chemical energies :
m
p
m
e
α
.
1 Introduction
The Greeks already knew the electrical properties of amber (elektron) and
the magnetic properties of magnetite. Bieler in 1924 wrote “as the angle in
creases, the ratio of the actual scattering to what would be expected on the
inversesquare law diminishes rapidly. This suggests the existence of an at
tractive force at short distances from the nucleus”. He made an “attempt to
explain on a magnetic hypothesis this inverse fourthpower term in the law
of force”[1]. The neutron was discovered in 1931 by his colleague, Chadwick.
The neutron seeming to be uncharged, the electromagnetic hypothesis for the
nuclear interaction was abandoned. The magnetic moments of the proton and
of the deuteron were discovered in 1932 by Stern and the magnetic moment of
the neutron in 1940 by Bloch. The nonzero magnetic moment of the neutron
indicates that it is not an elementary particle, as it carries no net charge but
1
still interacts with a magnetic ﬁeld. Adding algebraically the magnetic mo
ments of the proton and the neutron, Bloch obtained the magnetic moment of
the deuteron, in a ﬁrst approximation, without taking contribution from the
orbital movement [2]. Barut suggested that “all forces of elementary particles
are already dynamically uniﬁed under electromagnetism”[3]. In spite of the
discovery of the magnetic moment and the electric charges in the neutron,
short range electric and magnetic interactions between nearby neutrons are,
except the Coulomb barrier, still ignored. We shall show, using the laws of
electromagnetism, that the electromagnetic interaction is not so feeble and
may explain quantitatively the nuclear interaction. A free neutron does not
have an electric dipole moment but the dipole may be induced by the elec
trostatic induction of a nearby proton in the same way as pieces of paper are
attracted by the electrostatic inﬂuence of a rubbed plastic pen. “The positive
charge attracts negative charges to the side closer to itself and leaves positive
charges on the surface of the far side. The attraction by the negative charges
exceeds the repulsion from the positive charges, there is a net attraction”[4].
There is also a magnetic interaction between the nucleons that can be attrac
tive or repulsive depending on the position and orientation of their magnetic
moments.
2 Principle of the calculation
The permanent dipole of an isolated neutron is negligible but it may be in
duced by the electrostatic induction of a nearby proton. Combined with the
proton, the neutron becomes the deuteron and the induced dipole the deuteron
quadrupole. We shall ﬁrst compute the interacting force and energy between
two particles having an electrostatic charge and a magnetic moment. Nbody
calculations being generally intractable, judicious approximations are neces
sary to obtain an analytical formula of the hydrogen isotopes binding energy.
Only universal constants will be used (elementary electric charge e, neutron
and proton magnetic moments µ
n
, µ
p
, electric permitivity
0
, magnetic per
meability µ
0
, light speed c or, equivalently, ﬁne structure constant α, proton
mass m
p
, neutron and proton Land´e factors g
n
, g
p
).
2.1 Electromagnetic interaction energy in a nucleus
The general formula of the Coulomb interaction between two particles i and
j with electric charges e
i
and e
j
, combined with the interaction between two
2
Figure 1. Schematic deuteron structure.  The neutron potential is in 1/r at a short
distance and in 1/r
2
at a large distance explaining the neutrality of the neutron at a
large distance from a proton. The proton potential is everywhere in 1/r. Because of
the proximity of a neutron and a proton in a nucleus, there is a dissymmetry causing
an attraction as in any electrostatic induction [4]. The magnetic moments of the
neutron and of the proton are opposite (north poles near contact) and collinear, thus
producing a repulsive potential in 1/r
3
equilibrating the electrostatic attraction.
magnetic dipoles µ
i
et µ
j
carried by these particles is [8][9][10] :
U
em
=
¸
i
¸
i=j
e
i
e
j
4π
0
r
ij
+
¸
i
¸
i=j
µ
0
4πr
3
ij
¸
µ
i
• µ
j
−
3 ( µ
i
• r
ij
) ( µ
j
• r
ij
)
r
2
ij
¸
(1)
where r
ij
is the distance between the centers of the nucleons. This formula
shows that the Coulomb potential is attractive or repulsive depending on the
sign of the product of the electric charges. The magnetic potential is attractive
or repulsive depending on orientation and position of the magnetic moments
of the nucleons.
2.2 Charges in the neutron
If the neutron has no charge, its electrostatic energy is zero. The proton
containing one elementary charge +e, its electrostatic energy is, for a radius
r = 1 fm :
U =
e
2
4π
0
r
= 1.44 MeV (2)
The proton should be heavier than the neutron by nearly the same quantity.
The sign is wrong : the neutron is heavier than the proton [4] by approxima
tely the same quantity 1.29 MeV . A simple explanation is that the neutron
contains two opposite elementary electric charges + e and − e. Its mass ex
ceeds that of the proton by twice the electrostatic energy of the proton, as
3
Figure 2. Neutronproton interaction potential in the deuteron.  The potential is
given in MeV as a function of the distance r
np
between the centers of the neutron and
the proton. When the neutron and the proton are separated by a medium to large
distance, their interaction is negligible, due to the chargedipole interaction potential
1/r
2
. At a separation distance r between 0.6 fm and 1 fm, at contact, the Coulomb
attractive potential in 1/r is predominant over the chargedipole interaction in 1/r
2
(neglected in a ﬁrst approximation) and the magnetic interaction in 1/r
3
. In the
soft core region (r smaller than 0.6 fm), the magnetic repulsion potential in 1/r
3
is
predominant : it is the soft core. At distances < 0.5 fm hard core potentials with
inﬁnitely strong repulsions have been used [11]. g
n
and g
p
are the Land´e factors of
the neutron and the proton, α is the ﬁne structure constant, m
p
and R
P
are the
proton mass and Compton radius.
observed. We may therefore assume that the neutron contains two electric
charges + e and − e.
3 Potential and binding energy of the hydrogen isotopes
3.1 Deuteron potential energy
The proton contains a positive charge +e. The neutron contains electric
charges globally neutral, without any dipole when isolated from a proton.
The electric ﬁeld of the proton, acting on a neighboring neutron, separates
4
the neutron charges by electrostatic induction, creating an induced electric
dipole (ﬁgure 1). The negative charge of the neutron is attracted by the pro
ton. The positive charge of the neutron is repulsed. Therefore, according to
the Coulomb law, the attractive force is stronger than the repulsive force. The
induced electric dipole, combined with the proton electric charge, becomes the
quadrupole of the deuteron. Its moment is Q = 0.288 fm
2
= (0.54 fm)
2
. This
means that the distances between the electric charges are of the order of the
nucleon size and that the deuteron, having a positive sign, is prolate, elon
gated as an olive. “Unfortunately, the multipole expansion is not applicable
when the molecules are separated by distances comparable to the molecular
dimensions”[6]. This is also true for the atomic nucleus : the farﬁeld or di
pole approximation is not applicable when the distance between the electrical
charges is comparable to the nucleon size. This is justiﬁed by the Coulomb
law. Indeed the 1/r variation of the electrostatic potential decreases with the
distance r and the attraction by the proton is larger than the repulsion. The
positive charge of the neutron, being at a distance from the center of the pro
ton between two and three times the radius of a nucleon, may be neglected
in a ﬁrst approximation with an error estimated to 30 %. Therefore, only
the positive charge of the neutron will be taken into account. The magnetic
moment of the deuteron is close to the algebraic sum of the proton and neu
tron magnetic moments [7]. By reason of symmetry, they have to be collinear.
There is therefore a magnetic repulsion between the proton and the neutron.
Magnetic monopoles having never been observed, the distance between the
magnetic charges is unknown. We may thus use the far ﬁeld approximation
for the magnetic interaction between magnetic dipoles.
Using the relation
0
µ
0
c
2
= 1, the electromagnetic nuclear potential is, accor
ding to (1) :
U
em
= U
e
+U
m
= −
e
2
4π
0
1
r
np
−
2µ
n
µ
p

(ec)
2
r
3
np
¸
¸
(3)
Using the ﬁne structure constant α =
e
2
2
0
hc
, the proton Compton radius R
P
=
¯h
m
p
c
= 0, 21fm, the nuclear magneton µ
N
=
e¯h
2m
p
, we have
e
2
4π
0
= αm
p
c
2
R
P
.
We have also, for a magnetic moment µ of Land´e factor g, µ =
g
2
µ
N
= R
P
gec
4
and the deuteron potential is :
U
em
= − αm
p
c
2
R
P
r
np
−
g
n
g
p

8
R
P
r
np
3
¸
¸
(4)
or numerically :
U
em
(r
np
) = −
1, 44
r
np
1 −
0.34
r
np
2
¸
¸
MeV (5)
5
It may be noticed that, when r
np
is large, formula (5) becomes formula (2).
The calculated electromagnetic potential between a neutron and a proton in
the deuteron is shown on ﬁgure 2.
3.2 Deuteron binding energy
The binding energy is the potential at equilibrium. The derivative of the po
tential energy relative to the radius r
np
has to be a zero force at equilibrium :
F = −
dU
em
dr
np
= − αm
p
c
2
¸
R
P
r
2
np
−
3g
n
g
p

8
R
3
P
r
4
np
¸
= 0 (6)
The distance between the centers of the neutron and the proton at equilibrium
is
r
np
= R
P
3g
n
g
p

8
(7)
Replacing r
np
in the potential, the binding energy is :
BE
em
= − αm
p
c
2
2
3
R
P
r
np
(8)
The binding energy per nucleon is, for A = 2 :
BE
em
/A = − αm
p
c
2
2
3
2
g
n
g
p

= −
938
137
×
2
3
8
3 ×3, 8 ×5, 6
= −0.8 MeV
(9)
This total calculated binding energy, 1.6 MeV , is 30 % lower (in absolute
value) than the experimental value, 2.2 MeV . The binding energy of the deu
teron may thus be predicted electromagnetically at least approximately but
without ﬁtting. This calculation uses only classical electrostatics, magnetosta
tics and universal constants.
3.3 Hydrogen isotopes with N > 1
According to the general formula (1) applied to the assumed structure of the
hydrogen isotopes (ﬁgure 3), we have :
1  No magnetic bond np because the proton magnetic moment is perpendicu
lar to the neutrons magnetic moments and also to the line joining a neutron
to the proton.
2  Attraction by electrostatic induction between the proton and the N neu
trons. There are thus N np electric bonds. The positive charge of the neutrons,
6
Figure 3. Hydrogen isotopes structure.  The neutrons, situated on a circle of radius
r
np
are distant of r
nn
from their two nearest neighbors. Their magnetic moments
are radially oriented, located in a plane perpendicular to the symmetry axis which is
the magnetic moment of the proton. The magnetic moments of the neutron and the
proton are collinear in the deuteron and perpendicular in the other isotopes. θ is the
angle between the magnetic moments of two neighboring neutrons. The repulsion
between neutrons varies with the distance r
nn
between them; it is minimum for
3
H
and maximum for
7
H.
situated outside, farther away from the proton than the negative charge, at
tracted by the proton, is neglected, as for the deuterium.
3  Electrostatic and magnetic repulsion between the N neutrons by reason
of symmetry. The interaction between neutrons being limited to their ﬁrst
neighbors, there are N nn bonds instead of N(N −1)/2. Again, the positive
charge of the neutrons, situated at the periphery, is neglected.
The electromagnetic potential energy of a hydrogen isotope with N neutrons
7
is thus :
U
em
= −
Ne
2
4π
0
r
np
+
Ne
2
4π
0
r
n
1
n
2
+
Nµ
0
4πr
3
n
1
n
2
¸
µ
n
1
• µ
n
2
−
3 ( µ
n
1
• r
n
1
n
2
) ( µ
n
2
• r
n
1
n
2
)
r
2
n
1
n
2
¸
(10)
where r
n
1
n
2
is the vector radius between neighboring neutrons n
1
and n
2
. If θ
is the angle between the magnetic moments of neighboring neutrons n
1
and
n
2
, we have, according to ﬁgure 3 :
r
n
1
n
2
= 2r
np
sin
θ
2
= 2r
np
sin
π
N
(11)
From formula (10) and from the hydrogen nuclei structure, using
0
µ
0
c
2
= 1
and µ
n
=
g
n
e¯h
2m
p
we obtain :
U
em
= −
Ne
2
8π
0
sin
π
N
2 sin
π
N
−1
1
r
np
−
1
8
g
n
¯ h
2m
p
c
2
cos
2π
N
+ 3 sin
2 π
N
sin
3 π
N
1
r
2
np
¸
¸
(12)
Using the proton Compton radius R
P
=
¯h
m
p
c
, at equilibrium between electro
static attraction and magnetic repulsion, the force is zero F = −
dU
em
dr
np
= 0 :
−
Ne
2
8π
0
sin
π
N
¸
2 sin
π
N
−1
1
r
2
np
−
3
8
g
n
R
P
2
2
cos
2π
N
+ 3 sin
2 π
N
sin
2 π
N
1
r
4
np
¸
= 0
(13)
Solving for r
np
we obtain :
r
np
= R
P
g
n

√
3
4
√
2 sin
π
N
cos
2π
N
+ 3 sin
2 π
N
sin
π
N
−1
(14)
The radius is inﬁnite for N = 2 (formula (14) does not apply to
2
H) and
N = 6. Putting the expression of r
np
only into the brackets of the potential
(12), the electromagnetically calculated binding energy writes :
BE
em
/A = −
e
2
4π
0
r
np
2N
3(N + 1)
(15)
Replacing now r
np
in the binding energy (15) we obtain the binding energy of
the hydrogen isotopes where 2 ≤ N ≤ 6 or 3 ≤ A ≤ 7. Using the ﬁne structure
constant α and the Land´e factor g
n
, deﬁned by the formula µ
n
=
g
n
¯h
4m
p
of the
8
neutron we obtain :
BE
em
/A = −
8
3
√
3g
n
2 sin
π
N
−1
sin
2 π
N
cos
2π
N
+ 3 sin
2 π
N
N
(N + 1)
αm
p
c
2
(16)
αm
p
c
2
= 938/137 = 6.8 MeV is not far from the binding energy per nucleon
7.1 MeV of the α particle. The parameters of the formula depend solely on
the geometrical structure of the nucleus, the Land´e factors and the number
of neutrons (Z = 1). Only the neutron magnetic moment appears in formula
(16) although both moments µ
n
and µ
p
appear in the deuteron formula. This
is because the magnetic moments of the hydrogen isotopes are perpendicular
to the proton magnetic moment while they are collinear in the deuteron. Ac
cording to formula (16), the binding energy is zero for N = 6 ; the reason for
it is that the electrostatic attraction between a proton and a neutron is equal
to the repulsion between the neutrons : there is no electrostatic attraction.
The binding energy is also zero for N = 1, e.g. for the deuteron where formula
(9) must be used instead of (16). Numerically, with only the number N of
neutrons as a parameter, formula (16) writes
BE
em
/A = −0.91
2 sin
π
N
−1
sin
2 π
N
cos
2π
N
+ 3 sin
2 π
N
N
(N + 1)
938
137
MeV (17)
Figure 4 shows the variation of the calculated and measured binding energies
of the hydrogen isotopes for N = 0 to 6.
4 Nuclear and chemical energies
The energy needed to separate an electron from a proton is given by the
Rydberg constant
R
y
=
1
2
α
2
m
e
c
2
= −13.6eV (18)
which is the separation energy of an electron from a hydrogen atom according
to Bohr’s formula. Formulas (9) and (16) show that the separation energy of a
neutron from a proton may be characterized by a formula similar to (18) but
where α appears to the ﬁrst power and the proton mass replaces the electron
mass :
1
2
αm
p
c
2
= −3.5 MeV (19)
This value is near to the binding energy of the deuteron (−2.2 MeV ). Com
paring formulas (18) and (19), the nuclear energy is, for the same weight,
9
Figure 4. Binding energies of the hydrogen isotopes calculated and measured. 
Formula (17), shown on the ﬁgure, is valid for the isotopes where the magnetic
moments of the proton and the neutrons are perpendicular. Therefore it cannot be
used for the deuteron where the magnetic moments are collinear. For N = 6, the
calculated binding energy is zero, coinciding approximately with the experimental
observation that the heaviest known hydrogen isotope is
7
H [12]. The maximum
energy value occurs for
3
H(N = 2). The experimental and the theoretical isotopic
parabolas coincide satisfactorily. According to the shell model there sould be two
theoretical parabolas [13]. The semiempirical BetheWeizs¨acker formula provides
a poor ﬁt to very light nuclei, e.g.
4
He [15]. The binding energies, calculated from
nuclear masses [14], except
7
H [16], are taken positive on the graph.
m
p
m
e
α
= 1, 836 × 137 = 250, 000 times more concentrated than the chemical
energy.
5 Conclusions
The following results have been obtained by applying the electromagnetic
theory to the atomic nucleus :
 The calculated hydrogen isotope binding energies agree satisfactorily with
the experimental data.
 The hypothesis that the proton contains one charge + e and the neutron
10
two, + e and − e, explaining its larger weight, is used to obtain the binding
energies.
 The electrostatic attraction induced by a nearby proton on a neutron explains
quantitatively the strong force.
 The repulsion between the magnetic moments of the nucleons explains the
hard and soft cores.
 A nuclear equivalent of the Rydberg constant has been found.
 The ratio between nuclear and chemical energy is discovered to be
m
p
m
e
α
.
The next step will be to calculate the helium isotopes, then the nuclides in
general. Electromagnetism may open a new way of thinking nuclear physics.
R´ef´erences
[1] E. S. Bieler, Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 105, 434450 (1924)
[2] F. Bloch, Annales de l’I.P.H.P., 8, 6378 (1938).
[3] A. O. Barut, Annalen der Physik, 12, 498 (1986).
[4] R. Feynman, R. B. Leighton, M. Sands, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, 2
(Pearson/AddisonWesley, 2006)
[5] M. S. Longair, Theoretical concepts in physics : an alternative view of theoretical
reasoning in physics (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
[6] A.R. Leach, Molecular modelling : principles and applications (Pearson
Education, 2001).
[7] V.F. Weisskopf, J.M. Blatt, Theoretical Nuclear Physics (Courier Dover
Publications, 1991).
[8] G.E. Owen, Introduction to Electromagnetic Theory (Courier Dover Publications,
2003).
[9] K. Yosida, Theory of magnetism (Springer, 1996).
[10] J.C. Maxwell, A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, Volume 2 (Cambridge
University Press, 2010).
[11] A. V´ertes, S. Nagy, Z. Klencs´ ar, R. G. Lovas, Handbook of nuclear chemistry 1
(Springer, 2003).
[12] M. Caama˜ no et al., EPJ Special topics, 150, 912 (2007).
[13] O. Manuel, C. Bolon, A. Katragada, and M. Insall Journal of Fusion Energy
19, 9398 (2001).
[14] G. Audi et al., Nuclear Physics A 729, 337–676 (2003).
11
[15] Yu. E. Penionzhkevich, Hyperﬁne Interactions, 171, 157166 (2007).
[16] D. CortinaGil1, W. Mittig, Europhysics News 41, 23  26 (2010).
12
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