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Nuclear structure

Ernst Rutherford (1871-1937)

The study of nuclei originated
with Rutherford.
Today, nuclear alchemy is
achieved – we can turn
elements into gold – and make
solar power on Earth.
November 09 Modern Physics
Some properties of nuclei
Binding energy and nuclear forces
Nuclear models
Decay processes
Natural radioactivity
November 09 Modern Physics
The parts of atoms
Atoms are composed of a core of nucleons (protons and
neutrons) surrounded by electrons.
NB: p and n have similar mass, electron is light.
November 09 Modern Physics
Z = atomic number = the number of protons in the nucleus
= number of electrons in a neutral (not ionized) atom.
Z determines the chemical properties and distinguishes
A = mass number = the number of nucleons in the nucleus
determines the mass of the atom
N=A-Z = neutron number = the number of neutrons in the
Notation: A Z X= 12 6 C contains 12 nucleons, 6 protons, 6
November 09 Modern Physics
Nuclear Isotopes
A typical nucleus has approximately equal numbers
of neutrons and protons.
Hydrogen (Z=1, A=1, N=0) is a notable exception.
Helium (Z=2, A=4, N=2)
Lithium (Z=3, A=6, N=3)
Nuclei with an excess or deficit or a few neutrons
are stable so each element actually exists in various
isotopic forms which are chemically almost identical
but differ in mass.
November 09 Modern Physics
‘Common’ Isotopes