You are on page 1of 28

Applied Science Department (ASD) Centre for Foundation Studies and Extension Education (FOSEE


PPH 0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics

Foundation in Engineering


Chapter 5 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy



Modern Physics and Thermodynamics

Course Outline 5.1 5.2 Atomic and Mass Number 5.1.1 Isotopes Radioactivity 5.2.1 Type of Radioactivity 5.2.2 Exponential Decay Equation 5.2.3 Decay Rate 5.2.4 Half-life Decay Process 5.3.1 Alpha Decay 5.3.2 Beta Decay 5.3.3 Gamma Decay Application 5.4.1 Carbon Dating 5.4.2 Medicine Nucleus 5.5.1 Rutherford’s Alpha Scattering Experiment 5.5.2 Proton 5.5.3 Neutron Nuclear Reaction 5.6.1 Einstein’s Equation 5.6.2 Binding Energy 5.6.3 Fission 5.6.4 Fusion 5.6.5 Chain Reaction





Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to:
1. Define and differentiate proton, electron, neutron and nucleon 2. Describe radioactivity and its characteristics such as half life and decay rate 3. Apply and solve day life problem regarding to half life and rate of decay of radioactive source 4. Understand the application of radioactivity such as carbon dating and medicine 5. Understand the basic idea of Nuclei Physics 6. Describe nuclear reactions and differentiate all of it

ASD 2011/12

Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy

1 / 27

PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Mind Map Alpha decay Beta decay Decay process Gamma decay Exponential decay equation Decay rate Type of radiation Isotopes Radioactivity Atomic and mass number Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy Carbon dating Application Medicine Chain reaction Nuclear reaction Proton Nucleus Neutron Binding energy Rutherford’s Alpha Scattering Experiment Fusion Fission Einstein’s equation ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 2 / 27 .

A = 56 Atomic number. A This equals the number of nucleus (neutrons + protons) in the nucleus. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 3 / 27 . Therefore. A Z This symbol used to shows the number of protons and neutrons present. Atoms Nucleus Electrons Neutron Figure 1: Atomic Structure Figure 2: Symbol of 14 C element in Periodic Table Atomic number. where X represents the chemical symbol of the element. (When no confusion is likely to arise. (Except for ordinary hydrogen nucleus since it has only a single proton).PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. Z = 26. X Example 1: Element: Iron 56 26 Fe Mass number. Sometimes it is called the charge number. it contains 26 protons and 30 neutrons. Z This equals the number of protons in the nucleus. we omit the subscript Z because the chemical symbol can always be used to determine Z). Mass number.1 Atomic and Mass Number All nuclei are composed of two types of particles: protons and neutrons.

The radiation from radioactive samples is directed into two different regions in where there are a magnetic field and electric field.2 Radioactivity 5. N neutrons number (no. hydrogen. it shows the experiment to shows the existence of these three different rays.1. certain kind of particles and/or high energy photons are released in a collectively called. When an unstable or radioactive nucleus disintegrates spontaneously.1. This process of spontaneous emission of radiation was soon to be called radioactivity. Henry Becquerel found that a uranium compound (uranyl potassium sulfate crystal) affected a photographic plate wrapped in light-proof paper. Three types of radiation that can be emitted by a radioactive substance: • • • Alpha (α) decay ( the emitted particles are 4He nuclei ) α Beta (β) decay ( the emitted particles are either electrons or positrons ) β Gamma (γ) decay ( the emitted “rays” are high-energy photons ) γ In Figure 5. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 4 / 27 .1 Type of Radioactivity In 1896.2. Where Z is Atomic number.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. “ray”.1 Isotopes The isotopes of an element have the same Z value but different N & A values. has isotopes: 1 1 H 2 1 H 3 1 H a) ordinary hydrogen nucleus b) deuterium c) tritium 5. of neutron) and A is Mass number Even the simplest element.

(If the beam includes a positron (β+).PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Magnetic Field γ α Electric Field B α γ β β + Radioactive Source Radioactive Source Figure 5.1 The beam splits into three components i) Undeflected beam carries no charge (the gamma ray). • γ-rays can penetrate several centimeters of lead. it is deflected leftward).90c 1. Summary of properties Alpha Particle 4u +2e 0.0c Stopped by a few mm Stopped by few of aluminium cm of lead lower Very low Nature Mass Charge Typical speed Penetrating ability Ionizing power ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 5 / 27 . The three types of radiation have different penetrating powers: • α-particles barely penetrates a sheet of paper. ii) Component deflected leftward is the positively charged particles (α) iii) Component deflected rightward is the negatively charged particles (β-).10c Several cm in air High Beta Gamma Particle E-M wave 1/1840 u 0u 0 -1e (+1e if β+) 0. • β-particles can penetrate a few millimeters of aluminum.

3) R= dN dt λ λ = N0λe-λt = R0e-λt (5.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. If we write Equation 5.1) N is the number of radioactive nuclei present at some instant. 5. Note that both N and R decrease exponentially with time The decay rate of a sample often referred to as its activity ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 6 / 27 .1 above in the form dN N = − λ dt (5.2) We can integrate the expression to give N No ∫ dN N = −λ ∫ 0 t dt  N  ln   = −λt  No  N = Noe-λt No represents the number of radioactive nuclei at t = 0. λ is called the decay constant (probability of decay per nucleus per second).2 Exponential Decay Equation The rate at which a particular decay process occurs in a radioactive sample is proportional to the number of radioactive nuclei present (those nuclei that have not yet decayed).2.3 Decay Rate The decay rate R (the number of decays per second).4) where Ro = N0λ is the decay rate at t = 0 and R = λN. can be obtained by differentiating the last equation above with respect of time: (5. dN dt = − λ N (5.2.

PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. If you start with a 6 sample of 1000 carbon-14 nuclei. only about 62 remain. In general. we get T1 2 = ln2 λ = 0. time it takes half of a given number of radioactive nuclei to decay Half-life is another useful parameter in characterizing the decay of a particular nucleus. Radioactive decay is an averaging process over a very large number of atoms. how many will still be around in 22 920 years? Solution: In 5730 years. Our original sample in this example contained only 1000 nuclei. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 7 / 27 . 1 Ci = 3.5) This is a convenient expression relating half-life to decay constant. eλT1/2 = 2 2 Taking the natural logarithm of both sides.693 λ (5. the number will be reduced to 250 nuclei.3 Half-life T1/2. the nuclear decay is independent of the past history of a sample.7 x 1010 decay/s The SI unit of activity is the becquerel (Bq): 1 Bq = 1 decay/s Therefore. After three half-lives. A frequently used unit of activity is the curie (Ci). defined as 1 Ci = 3. after four half-lives (22 920 years). 125 remain. These numbers represent ideal circumstances. the number of radioactive nuclei remaining is N0/2n.2. half of before have decayed and N0/8 are left. In another 5730 years (for a total elapsed time of 11 460 years). N = N0/2. there are N0/2 radioactive nuclei remaining. Note that: After an elapsed time of one half-life. half of these have decayed and N0/4 radioactive nuclei left. Finally. and the actual outcome depends on statistics. t = T1/2 N = Noe-λt N0 = N0e-λT1/2 . leaving 500 carbon-14 nuclei remaining. after n half-lives. After another 5730 years (total time 17 190 years). Thus. After two half-lives. certainly not a very large number.7 x 1010 Bq Example 2: The isotope carbon-14 14C is radioactive and has a half-life of 5730 years. half the sample will have decayed. Thus if we were actually to count the number remaining after one half-life for this small sample. it probably would not be 500.

2 x 105 decay/s) exp((-1.0 x 1016) = 4. at t = 0 is R0 = 11. or decay rate. the activity. Solution: (a) Calculate the decay constant λ using Equation 5.0 x 1010 s Therefore. we have R0 = λN0 = (1.0 × 1010 2 226 88 Note that this result is also the probability that any single one second.1 µCi (c) We can use the Equation 5. What is the decay rate after the sample is 2.3 x 1010s)) = 1. where R0 is the decay rate at t = 0 and N0 is the number of radioactive nuclei present at t = 0.7 x 105 decays/s ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 8 / 27 . λ= 0. determine its activity at this time.6 x 103 years) (3.0 x 1016 such nuclei at t = 0.693 = = 1. Since N0 = 3.7 x 1010 decays/s.0 x 103 year = (2.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Example 3: The half-life of the radioactive nucleus (a) (b) (c) 226 88 Ra is 1.0 x 103 year) (3.4 × 10 −11 s −1 T1 5.0 x 1016.5 and the fact that T1/2 = 1.4 as well as the fact that 2.3 x 1010 s R = R0e-λt = (4. (b) Ra nucleus will decay in We can calculate the activity of the sample at t = 0 using R0 = λN0.0 x 103 years old. What is the decay constant of 226 Ra ? 88 If a sample contains 3.4 x 10-11s-1)(6.1 x 105 decays/s Since 1 Ci = 3.6 x 103 years = (1.4 x 10-11s-1) (3.693 0.16 x 107 s/year) = 5.15 x 107 s/year) = 6.6 x 103 years.

which has a half-life of 20. 2  80. R0 = 5 mCi.0 g contains 6 Avogadro’s number (6. has an activity of 5 mCi at the time of shipment.4 days.4 min.00 h? (b) Solution: (a) The atomic mass of 11C is approximately 11.693   4.00 h = 2.3 and so R = R0e-λt = (1. Upon receipt in a medical laboratory.3 = 8.50 µg contains N nuclei. 3. and therefore 11.88 x 104 s.09 x 1014 decays/s) e-16.4 min = 1224 s.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Example 4: A radioactive sample contains 3. which has a half-life of 80.4 days.2 mCi = 5 mCi e − λ t e    0. the decay constant is 0.02 × 10 nuclei/mol = 1.4 to find the activity at any time t.4 in the form R = R0e-λt 4.50 × 10-6 g  17 23 N =   11. where  3. 6 (a) Determine the number of nuclei in the sample at t = 0 What is the activity of the sample initially and after 8. the initial activity of the sample is R0 = λN0 = (5.4   5  t=   ln   0.92 x 10 nuclei   Since T1/2 = 20. Therefore.0g/mol  × 6. we see that λt = 16.2  = 20.693 0.66 x 10-4 s-1) (1.0.02 x 1023) of nuclei.92 x 1017) = 1. the activity is 4.50 µg of pure 11C .693 λ= = = 5. How much time has elapsed between the two measurements? Solution: Given: T½ =80.2 mCi. For t = 8.2 days = ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 9 / 27 .96 x 106 decays/s Example 5: A sample of the isotope 131I.66 x 10-4 s-1 1224 T1 2 (b) Therefore.2 mCi We can make use of Equation 5.08 x 1014 decays/s We can use Equation 5. R = 4.693  t   T1   2  5 4.

00 x 108 m/s. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 10 / 27 .9) MX is the mass of parent nucleus. MY is the mass of the daughter nucleus MO is the mass of the alpha particle.10) The disintegration energy Q appears in the form of kinetic energy in the daughter nucleus and the alpha particle.3 Decay Process A radioactive nucleus spontaneously decays by means of one of three process: alpha (α) decay. 2) The Disintegration Energy Q : Q = (M X − MY − Mα ) c2 • • • (5. 5. beta (β) decay. it loses • Two protons • Two neutrons Therefore.3. the value of Q can be calculate in MeV using the expression Q = (M X − M Y − M α ) × 931⋅ 494MeV / u (5. Q is in joules when the masses are in kilograms and c is 3.8) 226 88 Ra → Th + 24 He General rule : 1) The sum of the mass number A and atomic numbers Z must be the same on both sides of the equation.1 Alpha Decay Nucleus of Helium Emission α 4 If a nucleus emit an alpha particle ( 2 He ). Relativistic energy and momentum must be conserved.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. when the nuclear masses are expressed in the more convenient unit u. Z decreases by 2 and A decreases by 4.6) where X is called the parent nucleus and Y is the daughter nucleus. The decay is written as: A Z X → A− 2 Z − 2 Y + 4 2 He (5. However. or gamma (γ) decay.7) (5. Example : 238 92 U → 222 86 234 90 Th + 24 He (5.

1 MeV of kinetic energy.12) Note the nucleon number total and charge are both conserved in these decays. and 4. The electron or positron is not present beforehand in the nucleus (but is created at the moment of decay from the rest energy of decaying nucleus). A neutron changes to a proton and vice versa.017 574 u – 4.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Example 6: The 226Ra undergoes alpha decay according to Equation 226 Ra → 222 Rn + 4 He . Solution: Using Equation 5. Take the masses to be 226.2 Beta Decay e.3.8 MeV.87 MeV It is left as a problem to show that the kinetic energy of the alpha particles is about 4. we see that Q = (226.10.002 603 u) x 931.002 603 for 2 He . ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 11 / 27 .025 406 u for 226Ra.11) (5. 222.494 MeV/u = (0.025 406 u – 222. whereas the recoiling daughter nucleus has only about 0.017 574 u for 222 4 Rn.005 229 u) x (931. Later we shall notice that these processes are not described completely by these expressions. Calculate the Q 88 86 2 value for this process.electron Emission β− When a radioactive nucleus undergoes beta decay the daughter nucleus has the same number of nucleons as the parent nucleus the atomic number is changed by 1 A Z A Z X → X → A Z +1 A Z −1 Y + β − Y + β + (5. Two typical beta decay processes are: 14 6 12 7 C→ 14 7 N + β − + N → 12 C + β 6 Note that in beta decay. 5.494 MeV/u) = 4.

A process that competes with β+ decay is called the electron capture. A neutrino is emitted in positron decay and an antineutrino is emitted in electron decay. the neutrino (v) was finally detected. the Q value must be the same for each decay.16) 7 7 One example of this process is the capture of an electron by 4 Be to become 4 Li : 7 4 0 7 Be + − 1 e → 3 Li + v ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 12 / 27 . Fermi named this particle the neutrino (little neutral one) because it had to be electrically neutral and have little or no rest mass. In 1956. Later. which satisfies the law of conservation of angular momentum interacts very weakly with matter and is very difficult to detect Now. because all decaying nuclei have the same initial mass. Pauli in 1930 proposed that a third particle must be present to carry away the “missing” energy and momentum. Law of conservation of energy seems to be violated? Principles of conservation of both angular momentum and linear momentum are also violated? After a great deal of experimental and theoretical study. The kinetic energy of particles must be balanced by the decrease in mass of the system (the Q value).13) (5. It has the following properties: zero electric charge there is increasing evidence that its rest mass is zero and that it travels with the speed of light a spin of ½. The final product after decay is a nucleus whose charges is Z-1: A Z 0 X + −1 e → A Z −1 X + v (5. the antiparticle to the neutrino. we can write the correct form of beta decay processes: − 14 14 − 6 7 A A + Z Z −1 C→ N + β − + v (5.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Experimentally. This occurs when a parent nucleus captures one of its own orbital electrons and emits a neutrino. Relativistic expressions must be used for beta particles because their energy is large (typically 1 MeV).15) X → Y + β + v n → p + β + v − The symbol v represents the antineutrino. However. it is found that the beta particles are emitted over a continuous range of energies.14) (5.

but will only ends up in a lower energy state. 5.3 Gamma Decay e. The following sequence of events represents a typical situation in which gamma decay occurs: − 12 12 0 (5.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5.decay to an excited state of 12C* followed by gamma decay to the ground state. The typical half-life of an excited nuclear state is 10-10s. When a nucleus decays by emitting gamma ray. A gamma ray photon has an energy hf that equals the energy difference ∆E between two nuclear energy levels.3. It could either (i) (ii) decay directly to the ground state of 12C by emitting a 13. A violent collision with another particle may cause the nucleus to reach an excited state. by emitting a high-energy photon: A Z X *→ ZA X + γ (5.4-MeV electron undergo β. Photons emitted in such a de-excitation process are called gamma rays. the nucleus doesn’t change. 12B undergo beta decay to either of two levels of 12C.19) For example.electron Radiation gamma Emission β− Emission γ A nucleus that undergoes radioactive decay often left in an excited state.17) where X* indicates a nucleus in an excited state. The nucleus can then undergo a second decay to a lower energy state (perhaps to the ground state).4 Application Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 13 / 27 ASD 2011/12 .18) 5 6 −1 B→ C *+ e + v 12 6 C * → 12 C + γ 6 (5. It is more common for a nucleus to be in an excited state after it has undergone a previous alpha or beta decay.

charcoal. Example 7: A 25.4. It is possible to measure the age of a material by measuring its activity per unit mass caused by the decay of 14C. The sample shows a 14C activity of 250 decays/min.2 Medicine ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 14 / 27 .13 decays/s = 370 decays/min Now calculate the age of the charcoal using Equation 5. it no longer absorbs 14C from the atmosphere.83 x 10-12 s-1 = λ= (5730 years) 3.1 Carbon Dating The beta decay of 14C given by Equation 5.83 x 10-12 s-1) = 6.26 x 10 nuclei   Ratio of 14C to 12C is 1.3 x 107 N + 0n 6 1 12 ) because they continuously exchange carbon dioxide with their surroundings. scientists have been able to identify samples of wood. is commonly used to date organic samples. When an organism dies.0 g of carbon is  25.4. bone and shell as having lived from 1000 to 25 000 years ago. Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere cause nuclear reactions that create 14C.6 x 1012 nuclei) (3. Using this technique. 14 1 → 14 C + 1H .693 0.0 x 1011 s = 3.13. the initial activity of the sample is R0 = N0λ = (1. calculate the decay constant for 14C.4.3 x 10-12) (1. All living organisms have the same ratio of 14C to 12C (1. the number of 12C nuclei in 25.02 × 10 nuclei/mol = 1.0 g  24 23 N(12C) =    12.16 × 107 s/years T1 2 ( ) The number of 14C nuclei can be calculated in two steps.83 × 10   370  = 1. So the 14C/12C ratio decreases as the result of the beta decay of 14C (T1/2 is 5730 years). How long has the three that this charcoal came from been dead? Solution: First.6 x 1012 nuclei Therefore. Calculate t by taking the natural logarithm of both sides of the last equation: 1    250  t = − ln  −12   3.693 = 3. First.0 g/mol  × 6. which has a half-life of 5730 years.26 x 1024) = 1. 0.3 x 10-12 N0(14C) = (1.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. which relates the activity R at any time t to the initial activity R0: R = R0e-λt Given that R = 250 decays/min. We found that R0 = 370 decays/min.2 x 103 years 5.0-g piece of charcoal is found in some ruins of an ancient city.

Figure 5. Radiation can cause cancer.3: Diagram showing relationship of xray tube.2: Computed Tomography Scan Figure 5. and image reconstruction computer and display monitor To minimize the destruction of normal cells. large doses are needed to kill the cancer cells. It can also be used to treat it. Outside view of modern CT system showing the patient table and CT scanning patient aperture Inside view of modern CT system.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Radiation Therapy is the treatment of disease (mainly cancer). It is for this reason that cancer patients receiving radiation therapy often suffer side effects characteristic of radiation sickness. The beam is directed at the tumor. a narrow beam of γ or X-rays is often used when the cancerous tumor is well localized. and some of the surrounding normal cells are inevitably killed as well. Rapidly growing cancer cells are especially susceptible to destruction by radiation. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 15 / 27 . patient. The frame holding the x-ray tube and detector rotate around the patient as the data is gathered. The source (or body) is rotated so that the beam passes through various parts of the body so that the dose at any one place is as low as possible (except at the tumor or its immediate surroundings where the beams passes at all times). the x-ray tube is on the top at the 1 o'clock position and the arc-shaped CT detector is on the bottom at the 7 o'clock position. Therefore. detector.

it becomes concentrated in 53 the thyroid.J Thomson.5. The intense radioactivity emitted can then destroy the defective cells. soon after his discovery of the electron in 1897. argued that the electrons in this model should be moving. it is not always completely effective. especially when the cancerous cells are not well localized in one are. particularly in any area where abnormal growth is taking the place. Another application of radiation is for sterilizing bandages. 5. and even packaged foods. are difficult to treat at all without damaging the rest of the organism. a tiny radioactive source may be inserted directly inside a tumor. A similar technique is used to treat cancer of the thyroid with the radioactive isotope 131I . Many cases.4: Rutherford’s Alpha Scattering Experiment Set up α Fluorescent ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclearscreen Energy Nucleus / 27 16 . Ernest Rutherford and his colleagues performed experiments whose results contradicted Thomson’s model of the atom. surgical equipment.1 Rutherford’s Alpha Scattering Experiment A typical model of the atom in the 1890s visualised the atom as a homogeneous sphere of positive charge inside of which there were tiny negatively charged electrons.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 60 The radiation may be from a radioactive source such as 27 Co or it maybe from an X-ray machine that produces photons in the range 200 keV to 5 MeV. In these experiments a beam of positively charged “alpha (α) particles” was directed at a thin sheet of metal foil such as gold. so a recurrence of the disease is possible. since bacteria and viruses can be killed and deactivated by large doses of radiation. so when 131I is injected into the blood. which will eventually kill the majority of the cells. In some cases. J. Around 1911. Although radiation can increase the lifespan of many patients. Figure 5. The thyroid gland tends to concentrate any iodine 53 present in the bloodstream. It may not be possible to kill all the diseased cancer cells.5 NUCLEUS 5.

If the nucleus were the size of a baseball. Rutherford reasoned. It was found that most of the alpha particles passed through the foil unaffected. and the alpha particles should not have encountered any massive concentration of positive charge in that model to strongly repel them.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Figure 5. as if the foil were mostly empty space. containing over 99. so that each number is equal to the atomic number. (From kinetic theory and Einstein’s analysis of Brownian movement. It is clear that nucleus of all elements contain protons.5. the radius of atoms was estimated to be about 10-10m). He theorised that the atom must consist of a tiny but massive positively charged nucleus. The electrons would be moving in orbits about the nucleus (much as the planets move around the Sun). This could happen.5: Analysis Diagram of Alpha Scattering Process It was expected from Thomson’s model that the alpha particles would not be deflected significantly since electrons are so much lighter than alpha particles. of the element. The experimental results completely contradicted these predictions. Rutherford’s experiments suggested that the nucleus must have a radius of about 10-15 to 10-14 m. only if the positively charged alpha particles were being repelled by a massive positive charge concentrated in a very small region of space. surrounded by electrons some distance away. and with other elements such as the metal sodium and aluminium. So an atom would be mostly empty space. a few were deflected at very large angles. Some even nearly back in the direction from which they had come.3 Neutron ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 17 / 27 . Proton is also obtained with the gas fluorine. 5. And of those deflected. Z.2 Proton In 1919 Rutherford found that energetic α–particles could penetrate nitrogen atoms and that protons were thrown out after the collision.5.9 percent of the mass of the atom. The number of protons must equal the number of electrons surrounding nucleus. the atom would have the diameter of a big city several kilometres across. A proton is represented by this symbol: 1 1 H 5.

Exercise: An all-electric home uses approximately 2 000 kWh of electric energy per month.6022×10-13J From Einstein’s Equation ∆E for 1u mass ∆E = ∆mc2 = 1. which is almost identical to that of the proton. ∆E is in joules and ∆m is in kg.5 MeV ∆E = (∆u)(931.6749 x 1027 kg 5.6 x 10-13 J.6022×10-19J 1MeV =1.4924×10-11J/(1.2 Binding Energy ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 18 / 27 . Its mass.6 Nuclear Reaction 5. It had about the same mass of the proton but carry no charge. 5. So Chadwick call the new particle a neutron. The energy ∆E produced by a change of mass ∆m is given by the relation: ∆E = ∆mc2 c = value of the velocity of light (3 x 108 m/s).1 Einstein’s Equation In 1905.6 x 10-6 J and 1 MeV = 1. is mn = 1. ∆E = 10-3 x (3 x 108)2 ≅ 2. 1 kWh = 3.9979×108m/s)2 = 1. Chadwick found a new particle inside a nucleus.6022×10-19C)(1V) =1.66054×10-27kg(2. How much uranium-235 would be required to provide this house with its energy needs for 1 year? (Assume 100% conversion efficiency and 208 MeV released per fission. on the basis of about seven hours’ use per day.4924×10-11J = 1. in addition to the proton.5MeV/u) Example 8: Change of mass.6.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics In 1932. ∆m = 1 g = 9 x 1013 J Energy produced.66×10-27kg) Masses are often specified using the electron-volt (eV) 1eV = (1.60221×10-13J/MeV) = 931.66054×10-27kg (1. Einstein showed from his Theory of Relativity that mass (m) and energy (E) can be changed from one form to the other. Nuclear masses are specified in unified atomic mass unit (u) 1u = 1.5 x 107 kilowatt-hours Consequently a change in mass of 1 g could be sufficient to keep the electrical lamps in a million houses burning for a bout a week in winter.6.) Note.

E/A. Figure 5. Excluding the nuclei than 12C. Therefore. Conservation of energy and the Einstein mass-energy equivalence relationship show that the binding energy of any nucleus of mass MA is Eb(MeV) = (Zmp + Nmn – MA) x 931. A higher value of E/A implies that it is difficult to remove a nucleon or break up nucleus.6 can thus be interpreted as an indicator of nuclear stability. and E/A is smaller for nuclei with lower and higher values of A.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics The total mass of a nucleus is always less than the sum of the masses of its nucleons. we can see from Figure 5.6: Binding energy per nucleon graph Notice that the peak occurs at approximately the iron nucleus 56Fe (A=56). energy must be delivered to the system. Figure 6.6 that the average binding energy per nucleon. and mn is the mass of the neutron. Total energy (the bound system) < Combined energy (the separated nucleons) This difference in energy is called BINDING ENERGY (mass of N neutrons + mass of Z protons – mass of nucleus N+ZX) This energy can be thought of as the energy that must be added to a nucleus to BREAK it apart into its components. which is therefore one of the most stable nuclei. Greatest Stability Figure 5.4 shows the variation of the binding energy per nucleon among the elements. Example 9: ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 19 / 27 .5 MeV/u where mp is the mass of the proton. The average value is about 8 MeV per nucleon. The binding energy per nucleon of a nucleus is binding energy divided by the total number of nucleon. is fairly constant for the great majority of nuclei. in order to separate a nucleus into protons and neutrons. therefore the nucleus has higher stability. Because mass is a measure of energy.

015 941 u – 2. By using information in table below. Elements up to iron are produced in the cores of massive stars by exothermic fusion reactions. which consists of a proton and a neutron. that is. 2. Nucleus 55 25 Mn Fe 56 26 59 27 Co Z 25 26 27 (A – Z) 30 30 32 m n ( i u) 54. This is the fundamental reason that iron and lighter elements are much more common in the Universe than elements with higher mass numbers. the nucleus would separate into its constituent protons and neutrons without the addition of any energy.6.013 553 u = 0. mp = 1.938 048 55. Compare your results with Figure 5. we subtract the deuteron mass from this value: ∆m = (mp + mn) − md = 2.002 388 u Using the equation above.933 198 5. it would spontaneously break apart. mn = 1. to separate a deuteron into its constituent proton and neutron. If the binding energy of a nucleus were zero. Exercise: The peak of the stability curve occurs at 56Fe. given that the mass of the deuteron is 2.494 MeV/u) = 2.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Calculate the binding energy of the deuteron (the nucleus of a deuterium atom).013553 u.3 Fission ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 20 / 27 .007 276 u mp + mn = 2.6. we find that the binding energy is Eb = mc2 = (0. Solution: Proton masses.224 MeV Therefore.224 MeV of energy should be added.934 940 58.002 388 u) (931.008 665 u To calculate the mass difference. One way of supplying the deuteron with this energy is by bombarding it with energetic particles. show that 56Fe has a higher binding energy per nucleon than its neighbors 55Mn and 59Co.015 941 u Neutron masses.

water. the neutron loses only part of its kinetic energy. A neutron having this amount of energy is called a thermal neutron. an event that is accompanied by the emission of a gamma ray. This neutron capture can be written as: 1 0 n + ZAX − − − −> A +1X + γ Z The neutron-capture rate depends on i) the nature of the target nucleus ii) the energy of the incident neutron Elastic collision For some materials and for fast neutrons. Materials for which this occurs are called moderators because they slow down (moderate) the originally energetic neutrons very effectively. Their average kinetic energy at room temperature is Kav = 1. A good moderator should be a nucleus of low mass and should not tend to capture neutrons. Consequently. If the collision is oblique. Paraffin and water are some example of good moderators.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Large nucleus splits. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 21 / 27 . ii) Neutrons travelling through matter are absorbed by nuclei before they decay. At this low energy. Boron. In such event. thermalizes (reaches Kav) in less that 1 ms. The neutron continues to undergo collisions until its energy is of the order of the thermal energy kBT. one whose energy is several MeV.5kbT ≅ 0. a neutron loses all of its kinetic energy when it collides head-on with a proton (in analogy to the collision between a moving and a stationary billiard ball). where kB is Boltzmann’s constant and T is the absolute temperature. the neutron gives up some of its kinetic energy to a nucleus. Neutrons are not subject to Coulomb forces because of their charge neutrality. there is a high probability that that neutron will be captured by a nucleus. There are two things that happen to the neutrons. and graphite are a few examples of moderator materials. i) Free neutrons undergo beta decay with a mean lifetime of about 10 minutes.04 eV A high-energy neutron. elastic collisions are dominant. the maximum kinetic energy is transferred from one particle to the other when they have the same mass. into two smaller nuclei. During an elastic collision between two particles. A fast neutron (energy greater than about 1 MeV) travelling through matter undergoes many scattering events with the nuclei. In general it is found that the rate of neutron-induced reactions increases as the neutron kinetic energy decreases. or fissions.

Lisa Meitner and Otto Frisch explained what had happened. A typical reaction for uranium is Of the 200 MeV or so released in this reaction. In the uranium nucleus. barium and lanthanum. the combined rest mass of the daughter nuclei is less than the rest mass of the parent nucleus. it elongates and compresses until the amplitude of vibration becomes large enough to cause the drop to break. After bombarding uranium (Z = 92) with neutrons. most goes into the kinetic energy of the heavy fragments barium and krypton. and the excess energy of this nucleus causes it to undergo violent oscillations. if enough energy is added top set the drop into vibration. Hahn and Strassman discovered among the reaction products two medium-mass elements. About 2. Shortly thereafter. All the atoms in the drop have energy. following some basic studies by Fermi. Example 10: ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 22 / 27 . Nuclear fission occurs when a heavy nucleus splits/fissions into two smaller nuclei. typically two or three. The resulting nuclei.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Nuclear fission Nuclear fission was first observed in 1938 by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman. X and Y. It is initiated by the capture of a thermal neutron by a heavy nucleus and involves the energy release of about 200 MeV per fission. Fission also results in the production of several neutrons. However. and the force of repulsion between protons in the two halves of the dumbbell shape tends to increase the distortion The nucleus splits into two fragments.5 neutrons are released per event. In such a reaction. but this energy is not great enough to break up the drop. This capture results in the formation of 236U*. emitting several neutrons in the process. The 236U* nucleus becomes highly distorted. are called fission fragments. a similar process occurs: • • • • The 235U nucleus captures a thermal neutron. The fission of 235U by slow neutrons can be represented by the equation 1 0 n + 235 U − −−> 92 235 92 236 92 U ∗ − − − > X + Y + neutrons 141 56 1 0 n+ U − − − −> Ba + 92 36 Kr + 3 ( 01 n ) Where 236U* is an intermediate excited state that lasts only for about 10-12 seconds before splitting into X and Y. The breakup of the uranium nucleus can be compared to what happens to a drop of water when excess energy is added to it. The uranium nucleus had split into two nearly equal fragments after absorbing a neutron.

02 × 10 nuclei/mol   = 2. taking the disintegration energy per event to be Q = 208 MeV. Since A = 235.37 x 107 kWh. the number of nuclei is  1.56 x 1024 nuclei ( ) Hence the total disintegration energy is E = NQ = (2. 1 0 94 n + 235 U − − − −> 140 Xe + 38 Sr + 2 ( 01 n ) 92 54 1 0 n + 235 U − − − −> 132 Sn + 101Mo + 3( 01 n ) 92 50 42 Example 11: Calculate the total energy if 1. Find the number of neutrons released in each event. 1 kg of 235U is a relatively large amount of fissionable material.00 kg of uranium.00 × 103 g  23 N =   235 g/mol  × 6.00 kg of 235U undergoes fission.32 x 1026 MeV Since MeV is equivalent to 4.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics In addition to the barium-lanthanum reaction observed by Meitner and Frisch and the bariumkrypton reaction of 1 0 92 n+ 235U − − − −>141Ba + 36 Kr + 3( 01n) 92 56 Two other ways 235U can fission when bombarded with a neutron are 1) By forming 140Xe and 94Sr By forming 132Sn and 101Mo 2) In each case. This is enough energy to keep a 100 W lightbulb burning for about 30 000 years. Solution: By balancing mass number and atomic number we find that these reactions can be written Thus.56 x 1024 nuclei) ( 208 MeV/nucleus ) = 5. Identify the unknown particles X and X’ in the following nuclear reactions: 1 (a) X + 4 He → 24 Mg + 0 n 2 12 (b) 235 92 1 U + 0n → 90 38 1 Sr + X + 2 0 n (c) 2 1 H → 2 H + X + X' 1 1 ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 23 / 27 . Solution: We need to know the number of nuclei in 1. E = 2. Exercise: 1.45 x 10-20 kWh. two neutrons are released in the first event and three in the second. Thus. neutrons are also released.

is an example of an uncontrolled thermonuclear fusion reaction. Because the mass of the final nucleus is less than the combined rest masses of the original nuclei.6. where the temperature is approximately 1. The following are examples of such energy-liberating fusion reactions: 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 2 H + 11 H − −−> 2 H + 1 H − −−> 2 1 3 2 H + β +υ He + γ 4 2 H + 23 He − −−> He + β + υ He + 11 H + 11 H He + 23 He − −−> 4 2 This second reaction is followed by one of the following reactions: These are the basic reactions in proton-proton cycle. Such a high temperature is required to drive these reactions.002602 u. believed to be one of the basic cycles by which energy is generated in the Sun and other stars that have an abundance of hydrogen. All of the reactions in the proton-proton cycle are exothermic. The hydrogen (fusion) bomb first exploded in 1952. 234 90 238 92 238 92 U.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 2. We know that the binding energy for light nuclei (those having a mass number of less than 20) is much smaller than the binding energy for heavier nuclei.5 x 107.050784 u and alpha particle has a mass of 4. U has 5. a mass of 238. Construct the decay equation and find the energy released in the alpha decay of The following mass value will be useful: Th has a mass of 234. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 24 / 27 .4 Fusion Two small nuclei fuse to form a larger one. An overall view of the protonproton cycle is that four protons combine to form an alpha particle and two positrons. there is a loss of mass accompanied by a release of energy. with the release of 25 MeV of energy. Most of the energy production takes place at the Sun’s interior.043 583 u.

the atoms are ionised and the system consists of a collection of electrons and nuclei commonly referred to as plasma. (a) (b) Calculate the height of the potential barrier due to the repulsive force. Example 12: The separation between two deuterons must be about 10-14 m for the attractive nuclear force to overcome the repulsive Coulumb force. a thermonuclear reactor that can deliver a net power output spread out over a reasonable time interval is not yet a reality. A great deal of effort is currently under the way to develop a sustained and controllable thermonuclear reactor – a fusion power reactor. nonradioactive helium. At these temperatures. assuming an energy of 3/2kBT per deuteron (where kB is Boltzmann’s constant) ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 25 / 27 . 59 MeV One of the major problems in obtaining energy from nuclear fusion is the fact that the Coulumb repulsion force between two charged nuclei must be overcome before they can fuse. Comparatively few radioactive by-products are formed. 27 MeV 3 H + 1 H − − − −> 24 He + 01 n − − − − > Q = 17 . This can be accomplished by heating the fuel to extremely high temperatures (to about 108 K. if deuterium were used as the fuel. and many difficulties must be resolved before a successful device is constructed. The fundamental problem is to give the two nuclei enough kinetic energy to overcome this repulsive force.12 g of it could be extracted from 1 gal of water at a cost of four cents. Estimate the effective temperature required for a deuteron to overcome the potential barrier. ii) Unfortunately.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Fusion Reactions The enormous amount of energy released in fusion reactions suggests the possibility of harnessing this energy for useful purpose here on Earth. the end product of the fusion of hydrogen nuclei is safe. For the proton-proton cycle. The fusion reactions that appear most promising for a fusion power reactor involve deuterium (2H) and tritium (3H): 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 3 H + 1 H − − − −> 1 He + 11 H − − − − > Q = 4 . Some of its advantages are: i) Controlled fusion is often called the ultimate energy source because of the availability of its fuel source: water. 03 MeV 2 H + 1 H − − − −> 23 He + 01 n − − − − > Q = 3 . 0. far greater than the interior temperature of the Sun). For example.

012936u and mass of neutron = 1. it could result in a violent explosion.0 × 10 −14 m = 2.5 Chain Reaction In the 5.016003u. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 26 / 27 . These neutrons can in turn trigger other nuclei to fission with the possibility of a chain reaction. with the release of an enormous amount of energy.3 × 10-8 K T= − 23 3 × 1.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Solution: (a) The potential energy associated with two charges separated by a distance r is qq U = ke 1 2 r where ke is the Coulumb constant. For the case of two deuterons.07 MeV = 1. Setting this equal to the average thermal energy per deuteron gives 3/2kBT = 1. mass of boron = 10.5 neutron are emitted per event.1 × 10-14 J where kB is equal to 1.38 × 10 J/K ( ( ) ) Exercise: (a) Determine the product of the reaction 7 Li + 4 He → ? + n 3 2 (b) What is the Q value of the reaction? [mass of lithium = 7. the Coulomb energy per deuteron is 0. so that 1. an average of 2.14 MeV. q1 = q2 = +e.6.3 × 10-14 J = 0.6. mass of alpha = 4.4 (fission) section. Calculations show that if the chain reaction is not controlled (if it doesn’t proceed slowly). Solving for T gives 2 × 1.60 × 10 −19 C e2 U = ke = 8.38 × 10-23 J/K. when 235U fission.1 × 10-14 J.002602u.14 MeV ( )( ( ) ) 2 (b) Since the total Coulomb energy of the part of deuterons is 0.1 × 10 −14 J = 5.008665u] 5. we saw that.99 × 10 9 N.m 2 r 1.

if the collision is between objects whose masses are nearly the same. END OF CHAPTER 5 ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 27 / 27 . In order to achieve a self-sustained chain reaction. an uncontrolled fission reaction. which constitutes over 90% of the uranium in the fuel elements. neutrons may be captured by nuclei that do not fission. Thus. the lightweight object rebounds from the collision with most of its original kinetic energy. In such an event. In the process of being slowed down. The most common event of this type is neutron capture by 238U. in practice K is less than this. K can have a maximum value of 2. if the energy in 1 kg of 235U were released. the incoming object transfer a large percentage of its kinetic energy to the target object. must be captured by another 235U nucleus and cause it to undergo fission. A nuclear reactor is a system designed to maintain what is called a self-sustained chain reaction. the slowing down of the neutrons by the moderator serves the secondary purpose of making them available for reaction with 238U and decreasing their chances of being captured by 238U. Most of the modern reactors use water as the moderator. However. However. consider a collision between a lightweight object and a very massive one. The probability of neutron capture by 238U is very high when the neutrons have high kinetic energies and vice versa. Fermi first achieved this important process in 1942 at the University of Chicago.5 in the fission of uranium. on the average. A useful parameter for describing the level of reactor operation is the reproduction constant K. one of the neutrons emitted in 235U fission. defined as the average number of neutrons from each fission event that cause another fission event. K K=1 K<1 K >> 1 REACTION A self-sustained chain reaction is achieved Run-reaction dies out Run-away reaction occurs REACTOR Critical Subcritical Supercritical To understand how neutrons are slowed. with natural uranium as the fuel. it would be equivalent to denoting about 20 000 tons of TNT! This is the principle behind the first nuclear bomb.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics For example.