You are on page 1of 15

Chapter 1

Fundamental Concepts

The last half of the twentieth century was a time in which tremendous advances in
science and technology revolutionized our entire way of life. Many new technolo-
gies were invented and developed in this time period from basic laboratory research
to widespread commercial application. Communication technology, genetic engi-
neering, personal computers, medical diagnostics and therapy, bioengineering, and
material sciences are just a few areas that were greatly affected.
Nuclear science and engineering is another technology that has been transformed
in less than fifty years from laboratory research into practical applications encoun-
tered in almost all aspects of our modern technological society. Nuclear power,
from the first experimental reactor built in 1942, has become an important source
of electrical power in many countries. Nuclear technology is widely used in medical
imaging, diagnostics and therapy. Agriculture and many other industries make wide
use of radioisotopes and other radiation sources. Finally, nuclear applications are
found in a wide range of research endeavors such as archaeology, biology, physics,
chemistry, cosmology and, of course, engineering.
The discipline of nuclear science and engineering is concerned with quantify-
ing how various types of radiation interact with matter and how these interactions
affect matter. In this book, we will describe sources of radiation, radiation inter-
actions, and the results of such interactions. As the word "nuclear" suggests, we
will address phenomena at a microscopic level, involving individual atoms and their
constituent nuclei and electrons. The radiation we are concerned with is generally
very penetrating and arises from physical processes at the atomic level.
However, before we begin our exploration of the atomic world, it is necessary to
introduce some basic fundamental atomic concepts, properties, nomenclature and
units used to quantify the phenomena we will encounter. Such is the purpose of
this introductory chapter.

1.1 Modern Units


With only a few exceptions, units used in nuclear science and engineering are those
defined by the SI system of metric units. This system is known as the "International
System of Units" with the abbreviation SI taken from the French "Le Systeme
International d'Unites." In this system, there are four categories of units: (1) base
units of which there are seven, (2) derived units which are combinations of the base
units, (3) supplementary units, and (4) temporary units which are in widespread

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Table 1.1. The SI system of units arid their four categories.

Base SI units:
Physical quantity Unit name Symbol
length meter m
mass kilogram kg
time second s
electric current ampere A
thermodynamic temperature kelvin K
luminous intensity candela cd
quantity of substance mole mol

Examples of Derived SI units:


Physical quantity Unit name Symbol Formula
force ricwton N kg m s
work, energy, quantity of heat joule J N m
power watt W J s-1
electric charge coulomb c A s
electric potential difference volt V W A' 1
electric resistance ohm ft V A- 1
magnetic flux weber Wb V s
magnetic flux density tesla T Wb m" 2
frequency hertz Hz s-1
radioactive decay rate bequerel Bq s-1
pressure pascal Pa N m-'2
velocity in s"1
mass density kg m~^
o
area m
volume in3
molar energy J mor 1
electric charge density C m- 3

Supplementary Units:
Physical quantity Unit name Symbol
plane angle radian racl
solid angle steradian sr

Temporary Units:
Physical quantity Unit name Symbol Value in SI unit
length nautical mile 1852 m
velocity knot 1852/3600 rn s~[
length angstrom A 0.1 nm = ICT10 rn
area hectare ha 1 hm 2 = 104 m 2
pressure bar bar 0.1 MPa
pressure standard atmosphere atm 0.101325 MPa
area barn b 10~ 24 cm 2
radioactive activity curie Ci 3.7 x 10H) Bq
radiation exposure roentgen R 2.58 x 10~4 C kg"1
absorbed radiation dose gray Gy 1 J kg- 1
radiation dose equivalent sievert Sv
Source: NBS Special Publication 330, National Bureau of Standards, Washington, DC, 1977.

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


use for special applications. These units are shown in Table 1.1. To accommodate
very small and large quantities, the SI units and their symbols are scaled by using
the SI prefixes given in Table 1.2.
There are several units outside the SI which are in wide use. These include the
time units day (d), hour (h) and minute (min); the liter (L or I); plane angle degree
(°), minute ('), and second ("); and, of great use in nuclear and atomic physics,
the electron volt (eV) and the atomic mass unit (u). Conversion factors to convert
some non-Si units to their SI equivalent are given in Table 1.3.
Finally it should be noted that correct use of SI units requires some "grammar"
on how to properly combine different units and the prefixes. A summary of the SI
grammar is presented in Table 1.4.

Table 1.2. SI prefixes. Table 1.3. Conversion factors.

Factor Prefix Symbol Property Unit SI equivalent

10 24
yotta Y Length in. 2.54 x 1CT2 ma
1021 zetta Z ft 3.048 x 10~ 1 ma
1018 exa E mile (int'l) 1.609344 X 103 m a
1015 peta P Area in 2 6.4516 x 10~4 m 2 a
1012 tera T ft 2 9.290304 X 10~2 m 2a
109 giga G acre 4.046873 X 103 m2
106 mega M square mile (int'l) 2.589988 X 106 m2
103 kilo k hectare 1 x 104 m 2
102 hecto h Volume oz (U.S. liquid) 2.957353 X 10~5 m3
101 deca da in3 1.638706 X 10~5 m3
1
lo-2 deci d gallon (U.S.) 3.785412 X 10~3 m3
io- centi c ft 3 2.831685 x 10~2 m3
10~3 milli m
Mass oz (avdp.) 2.834952 x 10~2 kg
10~6 micro M Ib 4.535924 X lO^ 1 kg
io-9 nano n
ton (short) 9.071 847 x 102 kg
10~12 pico P
io-15 femto f Force kgf 9.806650 N a
10-18 atto a lbf 4.448222 N
21
io-24 zepto z ton 8.896444 X 103 N
io- yocto y Pressure lbf/in 2 (psi) 6.894757 x 103 Pa
lb f /ft 2 4.788026 x 101 Pa
atm (standard) 1.013250 x 105 Paa
in. H 2 O (@ 4 °C) 2.49082 x 102 Pa
in. Hg (© 0 °C) 3.38639 x 103 Pa
mm Hg (@ 0 °C) 1.33322 x 102 Pa
bar 1 x 105 Paa
Energy eV 1.60219 x 10~19 J
cal 4.184 J a
Btu 1.054350 X 103 J
kWh 3.6 x 106 J a
MWd 8.64 x 1010 J a
"Exact converson factor.
Source: Standards for Metric Practice, ANSI/ASTM
E380-76, American National Standards Institute,
New York, 1976.

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Table 1.4. Summary of SI grammar.

Grammar Comments

capitalization A unit name is never capitalized even if it is a person's name. Thus


curie, not Curie. However, the symbol or abbreviation of a unit
named after a person is capitalized. Thus Sv, not sv.
space Use 58 rn, not 58m .
plural A symbol is never pluralized. Thus 8 N, not 8 Ns or 8 N s .
raised dots Sometimes a raised dot is used when combining units such as N-m 2 -s;
however, a single space between unit symbols is preferred as in
N m 2 s.
solidis For simple unit combinations use g/cm 3 or g cm~ 3 . However, for
more complex expressions, N m~ 2 s""1 is much clearer than N/m 2 /s.
mixing units/names Never mix unit names and symbols. Thus kg/s, not kg/second or
kilogram/s.
prefix Never use double prefixes such as ^g; use pg. Also put prefixes in
the numerator. Thus km/s, not m/ms.
double vowels When spelling out prefixes with names that begin with a vowel, su-
press the ending vowel on the prefix. Thus megohm and kilohm, not
megaohm and kiloohm.
hyphens Do not put hyphens between unit names. Thus newton meter, not
newton-meter. Also never use a hyphen with a prefix. Hence, write
microgram not micro-gram.
numbers For numbers less than one, use 0.532 not .532. Use prefixes to avoid
large numbers; thus 12.345 kg, not 12345 g. For numbers with more
than 5 adjacent numerals, spaces are often used to group numerals
into triplets; thus 123456789.12345633, not 123456789.12345633.

1.1.1 Special Nuclear Units


When treating atomic and nuclear phenomena, physical quantities such as energies
and masses are extremely small in SI units, and special units are almost always
used. Two such units are of particular importance.

The Electron Volt


The energy released or absorbed in a chemical reaction (arising from changes in
electron bonds in the affected molecules) is typically of the order of 10~19 J. It
is much more convenient to use a special energy unit called the electron volt. By
definition, the electron volt is the kinetic energy gained by an electron (mass me
and charge —e) that is accelerated through a potential difference AV of one volt
= 1 W/A = 1 (J s~ 1 )/(C s-1) = 1 J/C. The work done by the electric field is
-e&V = (1.60217646 x 1(T19 C)(l J/C) = 1.60217646 x 10~19 J = 1 eV. Thus

1 e V = 1.602 176 46 x 10~19 J.

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


If the electron (mass me) starts at rest, then the kinetic energy T of the electron
after being accelerated through a potential of 1 V must equal the work done on the
electron, i.e.,
T = \m^ = -eAV = I eV. (1.1)
Zi

The speed of the electron is thus v = ^/2T/me ~ 5.93 x 105 m/s, fast by our
everyday experience but slow compared to the speed of light (c ~ 3 x 108 m/s).

The Atomic Mass Unit


Because the mass of an atom is so much less than 1 kg, a mass unit more appropriate
to measuring the mass of atoms has been defined independent of the SI kilogram
mass standard (a platinum cylinder in Paris). The atomic mass unit (abbreviated
as amu, or just u) is defined to be 1/12 the mass of a neutral ground-state atom
of 12C. Equivalently, the mass of Na 12C atoms (Avogadro's number = 1 mole) is
0.012 kg. Thus, 1 amu equals (1/12)(0.012 kg/JVa) = 1.6605387 x 10~27 kg.

1.1.2 Physical Constants


Although science depends on a vast number of empirically measured constants to
make quantitative predictions, there are some very fundamental constants which
specify the scale and physics of our universe. These physical constants, such as the
speed of light in vacuum c, the mass of the neutron me, Avogadro's number 7Va,
etc., are indeed true constants of our physical world, and can be viewed as auxiliary
units. Thus, we can measure speed as a fraction of the speed of light or mass as a
multiple of the neutron mass. Some of the important physical constants, which we
use extensively, are given in Table 1.5.

1.2 The Atom


Crucial to an understanding of nuclear technology is the concept that all matter is
composed of many small discrete units of mass called atoms. Atoms, while often
viewed as the fundamental constituents of matter, are themselves composed of other
particles. A simplistic view of an atom is a very small dense nucleus, composed of
protons and neutrons (collectively called nucleons), that is surrounded by a swarm of
negatively-charged electrons equal in number to the number of positively-charged
protons in the nucleus. In later chapters, more detailed models of the atom are
introduced.
It is often said that atoms are so small that they cannot been seen. Certainly,
they cannot with the naked human eye or even with the best light microscope.
However, so-called tunneling electron microscopes can produce electrical signals,
which, when plotted, can produce images of individual atoms. In fact, the same
instrument can also move individual atoms. An example is shown in Fig. 1.1. In
this figure, iron atoms (the dark circular dots) on a copper surface are shown being
moved to form a ring which causes electrons inside the ring and on the copper
surface to form standing waves. This and other pictures of atoms can be found on
the web at http://www.ibm.com/vis/stm/gallery.html.
Although neutrons and protons are often considered as "fundamental" particles,
we now know that they are composed of other smaller particles called quarks held

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Table 1.5. Values of some important physical constants as internationally recom-
mended in 1998.
Constant Symbol Value
Speed of light (in vacuum) 2.99792458 x 108 m s~l
Electron charge 1.60217646 x 10'19 C
Atomic mass unit 1.6605387 x 10~27 kg
(931.494013 MeV/c 2 )
Electron rest mass 9.1093819 x 10~31 kg
(0.51099890 MeV/c 2 )
(5.48579911 x 10~4 u)
Proton rest mass 1.6726216 x 10~27 kg
(938.27200 MeV/c 2 )
(1.0072764669 u)
Neutron rest mass 1.6749272 x 10~27 kg
(939.56533 MeV/c 2 )
(1.0086649158 u)
Planck's constant 6.6260688 x 10~34 J s
4.1356673 x 10~15 eV s
Avogadro's constant 6.0221420 x 1023 mol"1
Boltzmann constant 1.3806503 x 10~23 J K ~ ]
(8.617342 x 10~5 eV K" 1 )
Ideal gas constant (STP) 8.314472 J mor1 K" 1
Electric constant 8.854187817 x 10~12 F m"1
Source: P.J. Mohy and B.N. Taylor, "CODATA Recommended Values of the
Fundamental Physical Constants," Rev. Modern Physics, 72, No. 2, 2000.

together by yet other particles called gluons. Whether quarks arid gluons are them-
selves fundamental particles or are composites of even smaller entities is unknown.
Particles composed of different types of quarks are called baryons. The electron and
its other lepton kin (such as positrons, neutrinos, and muons) are still thought, by
current theory, to be indivisible entities.
However, in our study of nuclear science and engineering, we can viewr the elec-
tron, neutron and proton as fundamental indivisible particles, since the composite
nature of nucleons becomes apparent only under extreme conditions, such as those
encountered during the first minute after the creation of the universe (the "big
bang") or in high-energy particle accelerators. We will not deal with such gigantic
energies. Rather, the energy of radiation we consider is sufficient only to rearrange
or remove the electrons in an atom or the neutrons and protons in a nucleus.

1.2.1 Atomic and Nuclear Nomenclature


The identity of an atom is uniquely specified by the number of neutrons N and
protons Z in its nucleus. For an electrically neutral atom, the number of electrons
equals the number of protons Z, which is called the atomic number. All atoms of
the same element have the same atomic number. Thus, all oxygen atoms have 8
protons in the nucleus while all uranium atoms have 92 protons.

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Figure 1.1. Pictures of iron atoms on a copper surface being moved to
form a ring inside of which surface copper electrons are confined and form
standing waves. Source: IBM Corp.

However, atoms of the same element may have different numbers of neutrons in
the nucleus. Atoms of the same element, but with different numbers of neutrons,
are called isotopes. The symbol used to denote a particular isotope is

where X is the chemical symbol and A = Z + TV, which is called the mass number.
For example, two uranium isotopes, which will be discussed extensively later, are
2
g|U and 2 g2U. The use of both Z and X is redundant because one specifies the
other. Consequently, the subscript Z is often omitted, so that we may write, for
example, simply 235U and 238U.1
1
To avoid superscripts, which were hard to make on old-fashioned typewriters, the simpler form
U-235 and U-238 was often employed. However, with modern word processing, this form should
no longer be used.

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Because isotopes of the same element have the same number and arrangement
of electrons around the nucleus, the chemical properties of such isotopes are nearly
identical. Only for the lightest isotopes (e.g., 1 H, deuterium 2 H, and tritium 3 H)
are small differences noted. For example, light water 1 H2O freezes at 0 °C while
heavy water 2 H 2 O (or D 2 O since deuterium is often given the chemical symbol D)
freezes at 3.82 °C.
A discussion of different isotopes arid elements often involves the following basic
nuclear jargon.
nuclide: a term used to refer to a particular atom or nucleus with a specific neutron
number N and atomic (proton) number Z. Nuclides are either stable (i.e.,
unchanging in time unless perturbed) or radioactive (i.e., they spontaneously
change to another nuclide with a different Z and/or N by emitting one or
more particles). Such radioactive nuclides are termed rachonuclides.
isobar: nuclides with the same mass number A = N + Z but with different number
of neutrons N and protons Z. Nuclides in the same isobar have nearly equal
masses. For example, isotopes which have nearly the same isobaric mass of
14 u include ^B. ^C, ^N, and ^O.
isotone: nuclides with the same number of neutrons Ar but different number of
protons Z. For example, nuclides in the isotone with 8 neutrons include ^B.
^C. J f N and *f O.
isorner: the same nuclide (same Z and A") in which the nucleus is in different long-
lived excited states. For example, an isomer of "Te is 99mTe where the m
denotes the longest-lived excited state (i.e., a state in which the nucleons in
the nucleus are not in the lowest energy state).

1.2.2 Atomic and Molecular Weights


The atomic weight A of an atom is the ratio of the atom's mass to that of one neutral
atom of 12C in its ground state. Similarly the molecular weight of a molecule is the
ratio of its molecular mass to one atom of 12C. As ratios, the atomic and molecular
weights are dimensionless numbers.
Closely related to the concept of atomic weight is the atomic mass unit, which
we introduced in Section 1.1.1 as a special mass unit. Recall that the atomic mass
unit is denned such that the mass of a 12C atom is 12 u. It then follows that the
mass M of an atom measured in atomic mass units numerically equals the atom's
atomic weight A. From Table 1.5 we see 1 u ~ 1.6605 x 10~27 kg. A detailed
listing of the atomic masses of the known nuclides is given in Appendix B. From
this appendix, we see that the atomic mass (in u) and. hence, the atomic weight of
a nuclide almost equals (within less than one percent) the atomic mass number A
of the nuclide. Thus for approximate calculations, we can usually assume A — A.
Most naturally occurring elements are composed of two or more isotopes. The
isotopic abundance 7, of the /-th isotope in a given element is the fraction of the
atoms in the element that are that isotope. Isotopic abundances are usually ex-
pressed in atom percent and are given in Appendix Table A.4. For a specified
element, the elemental atomic weight is the weighted average of the atomic weights

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


of all naturally occurring isotopes of the element, weighted by the isotopic abun-
dance of each isotope, i.e.,

where the summation is over all the isotopic species comprising the element. Ele-
mental atomic weights are listed in Appendix Tables A. 2 and A. 3.

Example 1.1: What is the atomic weight of boron? From Table A.4 we find
that naturally occurring boron consists of two stable isotopes 10B and n B with
isotopic abundances of 19.1 and 80.1 atom-percent, respectively. From Appendix
B the atomic weight of 10B and U B are found to be 10.012937 and 11.009306,
respectively. Then from Eq. (1.2) we find

AB = (7io-4io +7n./4ii)/100

= (0.199 x 10.012937) + (0.801 x 11.009306) = 10.81103.


This value agrees with the tabulated value AB = 10.811 as listed in Tables A.2
and A.3.

1.2.3 Avogadro's Number


Avogadro's constant is the key to the atomic world since it relates the number of
microscopic entities in a sample to a macroscopic measure of the sample. Specif-
ically, Avogadro's constant 7Va ~ 6.022 x 1023 equals the number of atoms in 12
grams of 12C. Few fundamental constants need be memorized, but an approximate
value of Avogadro's constant should be.
The importance of Avogadro's constant lies in the concept of the mole. A
mole (abbreviated mol) of a substance is denned to contain as many "elementary
particles" as there are atoms in 12 g of 12C. In older texts, the mole was often
called a "gram-mole" but is now called simply a mole. The "elementary particles"
can refer to any identifiable unit that can be unambiguously counted. We can, for
example, speak of a mole of stars, persons, molecules or atoms.
Since the atomic weight of a nuclide is the atomic mass divided by the mass of
one atom of 12C, the mass of a sample, in grams, numerically equal to the atomic
weight of an atomic species must contain as many atoms of the species as there
are in 12 grams (or 1 mole) of 12C. The mass in grams of a substance that equals
the dimensionless atomic or molecular weight is sometimes called the gram atomic
weight or gram molecular weight. Thus, one gram atomic or molecular weight of
any substance represents one mole of the substance and contains as many atoms or
molecules as there are atoms in one mole of 12C, namely Na atoms or molecules.
That one mole of any substance contains Na entities is known as Avogadro's law
and is the fundamental principle that relates the microscopic world to the everyday
macroscopic world.

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Example 1.2: How many atoms of 10B are there in 5 grams of boron? From
Table A. 3, the atomic weight of elemental boron AB = 10.811. The 5-g sample
of boron equals m/ AB moles of boron, and since each mole contains Na atoms,
the number of boron atoms is

Na = = (5 g)(0.6022 x 10" atoms/mo.) = y


AB (10.811 g/mol)

From Table A. 4, the isotopic abundance of 10B in elemental boron is found to


be 19.9%. The number Nw of 10B atoms in the sample is, therefore, A/io =
(0.199)(2.785 x 1023) = 5.542 x 1022 atoms.

1.2.4 Mass of an Atom


With Avogadro's number many basic properties of atoms can be inferred. For
example, the mass of an individual atom can be found. Since a mole of a group
of identical atoms (with a mass of A grams) contains 7Va atoms, the mass of an
individual atom is
M (g/atom) = A/Na ~ A/Na. (1.3)
The approximation of A by A is usually quite acceptable for all but the most precise
calculations. This approximation will be used often throughout this book.
In Appendix B. a comprehensive listing is provided for the masses of the known
atom. As will soon become apparent, atomic masses are central to quantifying the
energetics of various nuclear reactions.

Example 1.3: Estimate the mass on an atom of 238 U. From Eq. (1.3) we find

238 (g/mol)
= 3.952 x 10 g/atom.
6.022 x 1023 atoms/mol

From Appendix B, the mass of 238 U is found to be 238.050782 u which numerically


equals its gram atomic weight A. A more precise value for the mass of an atom
of 238 U is, therefore,

, 238in ___ 238.050782 (g/mol)


M(v 238 U)
; = I,w ' = 3.952925 x IQ~" &/g/atom.
6.022142 x 1023 atoms/mol

Notice that approximating A by A leads to a negligible error.

1.2.5 Atomic Number Density


In many calculations, we will need to know the number of atoms in 1 cm3 of a
substance. Again, Avogadro's number is the key to finding the atom density. For a
homogeneous substance of a single species and with mass density p g/cm 3 , 1 cm3

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


contains p/A moles of the substance and pNa/A atoms. The atom density N is
thus
N (atoms/cm3) - (1.4)

To find the atom density Ni of isotope i of an element with atom density N simply
multiply N by the fractional isotopic abundance 7^/100 for the isotope, i.e., Ni —

Equation 1.4 also applies to substances composed of identical molecules. In this


case, N is the molecular density and A the gram molecular weight. The number of
atoms of a particular type, per unit volume, is found by multiplying the molecular
density by the number of the same atoms per molecule. This is illustrated in the
following example.

Example 1.4: What is the hydrogen atom density in water? The molecular
weight of water AH Q = 1An + 2Ao — 2A# + AO = 18. The molecular density
of EbO is thus

Ar/TT _ pH2°Na (I g cm"3) x (6.022 x 1023 molecules/mol)


7V(ri2O)
V = : = ; :
' ^H 2 0 18g/mol

= 3.35 x 1022 molecules/cm3.

The hydrogen density 7V(H) = 27V(H 2 O) = 2(3.35xlO 22 ) = 6.69xlO 22 atoms/cm3.

The composition of a mixture such as concrete is often specified by the mass


fraction Wi of each constituent. If the mixture has a mass density p, the mass
density of the iih constituent is pi — Wip. The density Ni of the iih component is
thus
PiNa wlPNa
1=
~A~ = ~A~'
S\i S^-i
( }

If the composition of a substance is specified by a chemical formula, such as


X n Y m , the molecular weight of the mixture is A = nAx + mAy and the mass
fraction of component X is

/- -,
t • (1.6)
nAx + mAy
Finally, as a general rule of thumb, it should be remembered that atom densities
in solids and liquids are usually between 1021 and 1023 /cm~ 3 . Gases at standard
temperature and pressure are typically less by a factor of 1000.

1.2.6 Size of an Atom


For a substance with an atom density of TV atoms/cm3, each atom has an associated
volume of V = I/A7" cm3. If this volume is considered a cube, the cube width is F1/3.
For 238U, the cubical size of an atom is thus I/A7"1/3 = 2.7 x 10~8 cm. Measurements

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


of the size of atoms reveals a diffuse electron cloud about the nucleus. Although
there is no sharp edge to an atom, an effective radius can be defined such that
outside this radius an electron is very unlikely to be found. Except for hydrogen,
atoms have radii of about 2 to 2.5 x 10~8 cm. As Z increases, i.e., as more electrons
and protons are added, the size of the electron cloud changes little, but simply
becomes more dense. Hydrogen, the lightest element, is also the smallest with a
radius of about 0.5 x 10~8 cm.

1.2.7 Atomic and Isotopic Abundances


During the first few minutes after the big bang only the lightest elements (hydrogen,
helium and lithium) were created. All the others were created inside stars either
during their normal aging process or during supernova explosions. In both processes,
nuclei are combined or fused to form heavier nuclei. Our earth with all the naturally
occurring elements was formed from debris of dead stars. The abundances of the
elements for our solar system is a consequence of the history of stellar formation
and death in our corner of the universe. Elemental abundances are listed in Table
A. 3. For a given element, the different stable isotopes also have a natural relative
abundance unique to our solar system. These isotopic abundances are listed in
Table A. 4.

1.2.8 Nuclear Dimensions


Size of a Nucleus
If each proton and neutron in the nucleus has the same volume, the volume of a nu-
cleus should be proportional to A. This has been confirmed by many measurements
that have explored the shape and size of nuclei. Nuclei, to a first approximation, are
spherical or very slightly ellipsoidal with a somewhat diffuse surface, In particular,
it is found that an effective spherical nuclear radius is

R = R0Al/3, with R0 ~ 1.25 x 1CT13 cm. (1.7)

The associated volume is

Vicious = ^ - 7.25 X W~39A Cm3. (1.8)

Since the atomic radius of about 2 x 10~8 cm is 105 times greater than the
nuclear radius, the nucleus occupies only about 10~15 of the volume of a atom. If
an atom were to be scaled to the size of a large concert hall, then the nucleus would
be the size of a very small gnat!
Nuclear Density
Since the mass of a nucleon (neutron or proton) is much greater than the mass of
electrons in an atom (mn = 1837 m e ), the mass density of a nucleus is
m
nucleus A/Na 14 , 3
^nucleus = T7- = ~, \ r> ~ 2A X 1U
S/ cm '
^nucleus

This is the density of the earth if it were compressed to a ball 200 m in diameter.

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


1.3 Chart of the Nuclides
The number of known different atoms, each with a distinct combination of Z and
A, is large, numbering over 3200 nuclides. Of these, 266 are stable (i.e., non-
radioactive) and are found in nature. There are also 65 long-lived radioisotopes
found in nature. The remaining nuclides have been made by humans and are ra-
dioactive with lifetimes much shorter than the age of the solar system. The lightest
atom (A = 1) is ordinary hydrogen JH, while the mass of the heaviest is contin-
ually increasing as heavier and heavier nuclides are produced in nuclear research
laboratories. One of the heaviest (A = 269) is meitnerium logMt.
A very compact way to portray this panoply of atoms and some of their proper-
ties is known as the Chart of the Nuclides. This chart is a two-dimensional matrix of
squares (one for each known nuclide) arranged by atomic number Z (y-axis) versus
neutron number N (x-axis). Each square contains information about the nuclide.
The type and amount of information provided for each nuclide is limited only by
the physical size of the chart. Several versions of the chart are available on the
internet (see web addresses given in the next section and in Appendix A).
Perhaps, the most detailed Chart of the Nuclides is that provided by General
Electric Co. (GE). This chart (like many other information resources) is not avail-
able on the web; rather, it can be purchased from GE ($15 for students) and is highly
recommended as a basic data resource for any nuclear analysis. It is available as
a 32" x55" chart or as a 64-page book. Information for ordering this chart can be
found on the web at http://www.ssts.lmsg.lmco.com/nuclides/index.html.

1.3.1 Other Sources of Atomic/Nuclear Information


A vast amount of atomic and nuclear data is available on the world-wide web.
However, it often takes considerable effort to find exactly what you need. The sites
listed below contain many links to data sources, and you should explore these to
become familiar with them and what data can be obtained through them.

These two sites have links to the some of the major nuclear and atomic data repos-
itories in the world.

http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/wallet/yellows.htm
http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/usndp/usndp-subject.html

The following sites have links to many sources of fundamental nuclear and atomic
data.

http://www.nndc.bnl.gov/
http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/index.htm
http://isotopes.Ibl.gov/isotopes/toi.html
http://wwwndc.tokai.jaeri.go.jp/index.html
http://wwwndc.tokai.j aeri.go.jp/nucldata/index.html
http://www.fysik.lu.se/nucleardata/toi_.htm
http://atom.kaeri.re.kr/

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


These sites contain much information about nuclear technology and other related
topics. Many are home pages for various governmental agencies and some are sites
offering useful links, software, reports, and other pertinent information.

http://physics.nist.gov/
http://www.nist.gov/
http://www.energy.gov/
http://www.nrc.gov/
http://www.doe.gov/
http://www.epa.gov/oar/
http://www.nrpb.org.uk/
http://www-rsicc.ornl.gov/rsic.html
http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/
http://www.nea.fr/

PROBLEMS
1. Both the hertz and the curie have dimensions of s"1. Explain the difference
between these two units.
2. Explain the SI errors (if any) in and give the correct equivalent units for the
following units: (a) m-grams/pL, (b) megaohms/nm, (c) N-m/s/s, (d) gram
cm/(s~ 1 /mL). and (e) Bq/milli-Curie.
3. In vacuum, how far does light move in 1 ps?
4. In a medical test for a certain molecule, the concentration in the blood is
reported as 123 mcg/dL. What is the concentration in proper SI notation?
5. How many neutrons and protons are there in each of the following riuclides:
(a) 10B. (b) 24 Na, (c) 59Co, (d) 208 Pb. and (e) 235U?
6. What are the molecular weights of (a) H2 gas, (b) H 2 O, and (c) HDO?
7. What is the mass in kg of a molecule of uranyl sulfate UC^SCV/
8. Show by argument that the reciprocal of Avogadro's constant is the gram
equivalent of 1 atomic mass unit.
9. How many atoms of 234 U are there in 1 kg of natural uranium?
10. How many atoms of deuterium are there in 2 kg of water?
11. Estimate the number of atoms in a 3000 pound automobile. State any assump-
tions you make.
12. Dry air at normal temperature and pressure has a mass density of 0.0012 g/cm 3
with a mass fraction of oxygen of 0.23. WThat is the atom density (atom/cm 3 )
of 180?

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


13. A reactor is fueled with 4 kg uranium enriched to 20 atom-percent in 235U.
The remainder of the fuel is 238U. The fuel has a mass density of 19.2 g/cm3.
(a) What is the mass of 235U in the reactor? (b) What are the atom densities
of 235U and 238U in the fuel?
14. A sample of uranium is enriched to 3.2 atom-percent in 235U with the remainder
being 238U. What is the enrichment of 235U in weight-percent?
15. A crystal of Nal has a density of 2.17 g/cm3. What is the atom density of
sodium in the crystal?
16. A concrete with a density of 2.35 g/cm3 has a hydrogen content of 0.0085
weight fraction. What is the atom density of hydrogen in the concrete?
17. How much larger in diameter is a uranium atom compared to an iron atom?
18. By inspecting the chart of the nuclides, determine which element has the most
stable isotopes?
19. Find an internet site where the isotopic abundances of mercury may be found.
20. The earth has a radius of about 6.35 x 106 m and a mass of 5.98 x 1024 kg.
What would be the radius if the earth had the same mass density as matter in
a nucleus?

Copyright 2002 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.