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

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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 .

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

1.1 Isotopes The isotopes of an element have the same Z value but different N & A values. The radiation from radioactive samples is directed into two different regions in where there are a magnetic field and electric field. has isotopes: 1 1 H 2 1 H 3 1 H a) ordinary hydrogen nucleus b) deuterium c) tritium 5. N neutrons number (no.1 Type of Radioactivity In 1896. 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. This process of spontaneous emission of radiation was soon to be called radioactivity.2.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. When an unstable or radioactive nucleus disintegrates spontaneously. Where Z is Atomic number.1. certain kind of particles and/or high energy photons are released in a collectively called.2 Radioactivity 5. of neutron) and A is Mass number Even the simplest element. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 4 / 27 . “ray”. Henry Becquerel found that a uranium compound (uranyl potassium sulfate crystal) affected a photographic plate wrapped in light-proof paper. hydrogen. it shows the experiment to shows the existence of these three different rays.

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 . • γ-rays can penetrate several centimeters of lead.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Magnetic Field γ α Electric Field B α γ β β + Radioactive Source Radioactive Source Figure 5. ii) Component deflected leftward is the positively charged particles (α) iii) Component deflected rightward is the negatively charged particles (β-). (If the beam includes a positron (β+).90c 1. The three types of radiation have different penetrating powers: • α-particles barely penetrates a sheet of paper.10c Several cm in air High Beta Gamma Particle E-M wave 1/1840 u 0u 0 -1e (+1e if β+) 0. Summary of properties Alpha Particle 4u +2e 0. • β-particles can penetrate a few millimeters of aluminum. it is deflected leftward).1 The beam splits into three components i) Undeflected beam carries no charge (the gamma ray).

3 Decay Rate The decay rate R (the number of decays 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).4) where Ro = N0λ is the decay rate at t = 0 and R = λN. If we write Equation 5. can be obtained by differentiating the last equation above with respect of time: (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 = 0.1) N is the number of radioactive nuclei present at some instant.2. dN dt = − λ N (5.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. λ is called the decay constant (probability of decay per nucleus per second).3) R= dN dt λ λ = N0λe-λt = R0e-λt (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 . 5.1 above in the form dN N = − λ dt (5.2.

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

(b) Ra nucleus will decay in We can calculate the activity of the sample at t = 0 using R0 = λN0.0 x 1010 s Therefore. at t = 0 is R0 = 11.4 x 10-11s-1) (3.6 x 103 years = (1.2 x 105 decay/s) exp((-1.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Example 3: The half-life of the radioactive nucleus (a) (b) (c) 226 88 Ra is 1.0 x 1016 such nuclei at t = 0.693 = = 1.4 as well as the fact that 2. or decay rate. where R0 is the decay rate at t = 0 and N0 is the number of radioactive nuclei present at t = 0. What is the decay constant of 226 Ra ? 88 If a sample contains 3.6 x 103 years. λ= 0. Solution: (a) Calculate the decay constant λ using Equation 5.0 x 1016) = 4.0 x 1016. we have R0 = λN0 = (1.15 x 107 s/year) = 6.16 x 107 s/year) = 5.0 x 103 year = (2. Since N0 = 3.1 x 105 decays/s Since 1 Ci = 3. determine its activity at this time.0 x 103 years old.693 0.4 x 10-11s-1)(6.4 × 10 −11 s −1 T1 5.6 x 103 years) (3.3 x 1010s)) = 1.1 µCi (c) We can use the Equation 5. the activity. What is the decay rate after the sample is 2.7 x 105 decays/s ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 8 / 27 .0 × 1010 2 226 88 Note that this result is also the probability that any single one second.7 x 1010 decays/s.3 x 1010 s R = R0e-λt = (4.0 x 103 year) (3.5 and the fact that T1/2 = 1.

the initial activity of the sample is R0 = λN0 = (5.09 x 1014 decays/s) e-16.66 x 10-4 s-1) (1.02 × 10 nuclei/mol = 1.50 µg contains N nuclei.88 x 104 s. 6 (a) Determine the number of nuclei in the sample at t = 0 What is the activity of the sample initially and after 8.4 days.4 in the form R = R0e-λt 4.4 min = 1224 s. where  3.0 g contains 6 Avogadro’s number (6.02 x 1023) of nuclei. For t = 8.50 × 10-6 g  17 23 N =   11. R0 = 5 mCi.2  = 20. which has a half-life of 20.2 mCi.4 min.3 = 8.00 h? (b) Solution: (a) The atomic mass of 11C is approximately 11.92 x 10 nuclei   Since T1/2 = 20.693  t   T1   2  5 4. How much time has elapsed between the two measurements? Solution: Given: T½ =80.96 x 106 decays/s Example 5: A sample of the isotope 131I. R = 4. Upon receipt in a medical laboratory.50 µg of pure 11C .4 days.66 x 10-4 s-1 1224 T1 2 (b) Therefore.2 mCi We can make use of Equation 5.3 and so R = R0e-λt = (1.4   5  t=   ln   0. 3.2 days = ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 9 / 27 .693 0.0g/mol  × 6.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Example 4: A radioactive sample contains 3.693 λ= = = 5. the decay constant is 0. and therefore 11.00 h = 2.2 mCi = 5 mCi e − λ t e    0. 2  80.4 to find the activity at any time t. which has a half-life of 80.08 x 1014 decays/s We can use Equation 5. we see that λt = 16. has an activity of 5 mCi at the time of shipment.92 x 1017) = 1. Therefore.693   4.0. the activity is 4.

00 x 108 m/s. Z decreases by 2 and A decreases by 4.6) where X is called the parent nucleus and Y is the daughter nucleus. Q is in joules when the masses are in kilograms and c is 3. or gamma (γ) decay.9) MX is the mass of parent nucleus. Example : 238 92 U → 222 86 234 90 Th + 24 He (5. MY is the mass of the daughter nucleus MO is the mass of the alpha particle. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 10 / 27 . Relativistic energy and momentum must be conserved. the value of Q can be calculate in MeV using the expression Q = (M X − M Y − M α ) × 931⋅ 494MeV / u (5.1 Alpha Decay Nucleus of Helium Emission α 4 If a nucleus emit an alpha particle ( 2 He ).7) (5. The decay is written as: A Z X → A− 2 Z − 2 Y + 4 2 He (5. However. 2) The Disintegration Energy Q : Q = (M X − MY − Mα ) c2 • • • (5. when the nuclear masses are expressed in the more convenient unit u.3 Decay Process A radioactive nucleus spontaneously decays by means of one of three process: alpha (α) decay. 5.8) 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. beta (β) decay.3.10) The disintegration energy Q appears in the form of kinetic energy in the daughter nucleus and the alpha particle. it loses • Two protons • Two neutrons Therefore.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5.

10.005 229 u) x (931. Later we shall notice that these processes are not described completely by these expressions.12) Note the nucleon number total and charge are both conserved in these decays. Solution: Using Equation 5.494 MeV/u = (0.025 406 u for 226Ra. 222. whereas the recoiling daughter nucleus has only about 0. A neutron changes to a proton and vice versa.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. we see that Q = (226. Take the masses to be 226. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 11 / 27 . 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.002 603 u) x 931. and 4.494 MeV/u) = 4.8 MeV. Calculate the Q 88 86 2 value for this process. 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).025 406 u – 222.002 603 for 2 He .017 574 u for 222 4 Rn.11) (5.017 574 u – 4.1 MeV of kinetic energy.2 Beta Decay e.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Example 6: The 226Ra undergoes alpha decay according to Equation 226 Ra → 222 Rn + 4 He .3. 5.87 MeV It is left as a problem to show that the kinetic energy of the alpha particles is about 4.

Later. The kinetic energy of particles must be balanced by the decrease in mass of the system (the Q value). the neutrino (v) was finally detected.14) (5.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Experimentally. However. 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. Fermi named this particle the neutrino (little neutral one) because it had to be electrically neutral and have little or no rest mass. which satisfies the law of conservation of angular momentum interacts very weakly with matter and is very difficult to detect Now. it is found that the beta particles are emitted over a continuous range of energies. because all decaying nuclei have the same initial mass.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 . In 1956.15) X → Y + β + v n → p + β + v − The symbol v represents the antineutrino. Relativistic expressions must be used for beta particles because their energy is large (typically 1 MeV). the Q value must be the same for each decay. the antiparticle to the neutrino. 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. Pauli in 1930 proposed that a third particle must be present to carry away the “missing” energy and momentum. This occurs when a parent nucleus captures one of its own orbital electrons and emits a 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. 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. A process that competes with β+ decay is called the electron capture.13) (5. A neutrino is emitted in positron decay and an antineutrino is emitted in electron decay.

by emitting a high-energy photon: A Z X *→ ZA X + γ (5. The following sequence of events represents a typical situation in which gamma decay occurs: − 12 12 0 (5. A gamma ray photon has an energy hf that equals the energy difference ∆E between two nuclear energy levels.4 Application Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 13 / 27 ASD 2011/12 . The typical half-life of an excited nuclear state is 10-10s. but will only ends up in a lower energy state. the nucleus doesn’t change.19) For example.3.17) where X* indicates a nucleus in an excited state.3 Gamma Decay e. A violent collision with another particle may cause the nucleus to reach an excited state. When a nucleus decays by emitting gamma ray. 12B undergo beta decay to either of two levels of 12C. It is more common for a nucleus to be in an excited state after it has undergone a previous alpha or beta decay. It could either (i) (ii) decay directly to the ground state of 12C by emitting a 13. The nucleus can then undergo a second decay to a lower energy state (perhaps to the ground state). 5.decay to an excited state of 12C* followed by gamma decay to the ground state.4-MeV electron undergo β.18) 5 6 −1 B→ C *+ e + v 12 6 C * → 12 C + γ 6 (5. Photons emitted in such a de-excitation process are called gamma rays.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5.electron Radiation gamma Emission β− Emission γ A nucleus that undergoes radioactive decay often left in an excited state.

Using this technique.0 g of carbon is  25. All living organisms have the same ratio of 14C to 12C (1.693 = 3.6 x 1012 nuclei) (3.6 x 1012 nuclei Therefore. it no longer absorbs 14C from the atmosphere.0 x 1011 s = 3. 0.693 0.4.2 x 103 years 5. When an organism dies.83 × 10   370  = 1.4.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 5. First.0 g/mol  × 6.83 x 10-12 s-1) = 6.4. We found that R0 = 370 decays/min. which relates the activity R at any time t to the initial activity R0: R = R0e-λt Given that R = 250 decays/min.0 g  24 23 N(12C) =    12. charcoal.1 Carbon Dating The beta decay of 14C given by Equation 5.3 x 10-12 N0(14C) = (1. It is possible to measure the age of a material by measuring its activity per unit mass caused by the decay of 14C.26 x 10 nuclei   Ratio of 14C to 12C is 1. scientists have been able to identify samples of wood. which has a half-life of 5730 years. Calculate t by taking the natural logarithm of both sides of the last equation: 1    250  t = − ln  −12   3. 14 1 → 14 C + 1H .16 × 107 s/years T1 2 ( ) The number of 14C nuclei can be calculated in two steps. the initial activity of the sample is R0 = N0λ = (1.02 × 10 nuclei/mol = 1.2 Medicine ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 14 / 27 . calculate the decay constant for 14C. Cosmic rays in the upper atmosphere cause nuclear reactions that create 14C. The sample shows a 14C activity of 250 decays/min. How long has the three that this charcoal came from been dead? Solution: First. Example 7: A 25. bone and shell as having lived from 1000 to 25 000 years ago.26 x 1024) = 1.83 x 10-12 s-1 = λ= (5730 years) 3.3 x 107 N + 0n 6 1 12 ) because they continuously exchange carbon dioxide with their surroundings.13. is commonly used to date organic samples. So the 14C/12C ratio decreases as the result of the beta decay of 14C (T1/2 is 5730 years).0-g piece of charcoal is found in some ruins of an ancient city.13 decays/s = 370 decays/min Now calculate the age of the charcoal using Equation 5.3 x 10-12) (1. the number of 12C nuclei in 25.

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). patient. large doses are needed to kill the cancer cells. Radiation can cause cancer.3: Diagram showing relationship of xray tube. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 15 / 27 . 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.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Radiation Therapy is the treatment of disease (mainly cancer). and image reconstruction computer and display monitor To minimize the destruction of normal cells. detector. Therefore. and some of the surrounding normal cells are inevitably killed as well. a narrow beam of γ or X-rays is often used when the cancerous tumor is well localized. The beam is directed at the tumor. Rapidly growing cancer cells are especially susceptible to destruction by radiation. Figure 5. Outside view of modern CT system showing the patient table and CT scanning patient aperture Inside view of modern CT system. It is for this reason that cancer patients receiving radiation therapy often suffer side effects characteristic of radiation sickness.2: Computed Tomography Scan Figure 5. The frame holding the x-ray tube and detector rotate around the patient as the data is gathered. It can also be used to treat it.

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

He theorised that the atom must consist of a tiny but massive positively charged nucleus.2 Proton In 1919 Rutherford found that energetic α–particles could penetrate nitrogen atoms and that protons were thrown out after the collision. It was found that most of the alpha particles passed through the foil unaffected.9 percent of the mass of the atom. And of those deflected. a few were deflected at very large angles. The number of protons must equal the number of electrons surrounding nucleus. (From kinetic theory and Einstein’s analysis of Brownian movement.3 Neutron ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 17 / 27 . the radius of atoms was estimated to be about 10-10m). It is clear that nucleus of all elements contain protons. The electrons would be moving in orbits about the nucleus (much as the planets move around the Sun). of the element.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Figure 5. Z. The experimental results completely contradicted these predictions.5. only if the positively charged alpha particles were being repelled by a massive positive charge concentrated in a very small region of space. so that each number is equal to the atomic number. surrounded by electrons some distance away. the atom would have the diameter of a big city several kilometres across.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. Proton is also obtained with the gas fluorine. If the nucleus were the size of a baseball. Rutherford reasoned. and with other elements such as the metal sodium and aluminium. as if the foil were mostly empty space. So an atom would be mostly empty space. Some even nearly back in the direction from which they had come. This could happen. Rutherford’s experiments suggested that the nucleus must have a radius of about 10-15 to 10-14 m.5. containing over 99. A proton is represented by this symbol: 1 1 H 5. 5. and the alpha particles should not have encountered any massive concentration of positive charge in that model to strongly repel them.

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).6.4924×10-11J/(1.6749 x 1027 kg 5. on the basis of about seven hours’ use per day.4924×10-11J = 1.6022×10-19C)(1V) =1.6022×10-19J 1MeV =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.) Note.66054×10-27kg(2.6.66×10-27kg) Masses are often specified using the electron-volt (eV) 1eV = (1. 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. 1 kWh = 3. Einstein showed from his Theory of Relativity that mass (m) and energy (E) can be changed from one form to the other.66054×10-27kg (1. Exercise: An all-electric home uses approximately 2 000 kWh of electric energy per month.6 Nuclear Reaction 5.6022×10-13J From Einstein’s Equation ∆E for 1u mass ∆E = ∆mc2 = 1. ∆E = 10-3 x (3 x 108)2 ≅ 2.2 Binding Energy ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 18 / 27 .5MeV/u) Example 8: Change of mass. in addition to the proton.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics In 1932. It had about the same mass of the proton but carry no charge.6 x 10-6 J and 1 MeV = 1. Chadwick found a new particle inside a nucleus.1 Einstein’s Equation In 1905. So Chadwick call the new particle a neutron. 5.5 MeV ∆E = (∆u)(931. ∆m = 1 g = 9 x 1013 J Energy produced. is mn = 1.6 x 10-13 J. which is almost identical to that of the proton. Nuclear masses are specified in unified atomic mass unit (u) 1u = 1. ∆E is in joules and ∆m is in kg.60221×10-13J/MeV) = 931.9979×108m/s)2 = 1. Its mass.

Because mass is a measure of energy. we can see from Figure 5. E/A. energy must be delivered to the system.4 shows the variation of the binding energy per nucleon among the elements. and mn is the mass of the neutron. Greatest Stability Figure 5.6 can thus be interpreted as an indicator of nuclear stability. 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. Excluding the nuclei than 12C. Example 9: ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 19 / 27 .6 that the average binding energy per nucleon. 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. and E/A is smaller for nuclei with lower and higher values of A. 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.5 MeV/u where mp is the mass of the proton. A higher value of E/A implies that it is difficult to remove a nucleon or break up nucleus.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics The total mass of a nucleus is always less than the sum of the masses of its nucleons. in order to separate a nucleus into protons and neutrons. Figure 6. therefore the nucleus has higher stability. is fairly constant for the great majority of nuclei. Therefore.6: Binding energy per nucleon graph Notice that the peak occurs at approximately the iron nucleus 56Fe (A=56). Figure 5.

007 276 u mp + mn = 2.933 198 5.938 048 55.015 941 u – 2.008 665 u To calculate the mass difference. Nucleus 55 25 Mn Fe 56 26 59 27 Co Z 25 26 27 (A – Z) 30 30 32 m n ( i u) 54. given that the mass of the deuteron is 2. we subtract the deuteron mass from this value: ∆m = (mp + mn) − md = 2.6. mp = 1. One way of supplying the deuteron with this energy is by bombarding it with energetic particles. 2. Exercise: The peak of the stability curve occurs at 56Fe. we find that the binding energy is Eb = mc2 = (0.002 388 u Using the equation above.494 MeV/u) = 2.224 MeV of energy should be added.013553 u. that is.6. This is the fundamental reason that iron and lighter elements are much more common in the Universe than elements with higher mass numbers.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Calculate the binding energy of the deuteron (the nucleus of a deuterium atom). show that 56Fe has a higher binding energy per nucleon than its neighbors 55Mn and 59Co. Elements up to iron are produced in the cores of massive stars by exothermic fusion reactions. to separate a deuteron into its constituent proton and neutron. By using information in table below. the nucleus would separate into its constituent protons and neutrons without the addition of any energy.015 941 u Neutron masses.013 553 u = 0. it would spontaneously break apart. If the binding energy of a nucleus were zero. Solution: Proton masses. Compare your results with Figure 5.3 Fission ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 20 / 27 .002 388 u) (931. which consists of a proton and a neutron.224 MeV Therefore. mn = 1.934 940 58.

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

The 236U* nucleus becomes highly distorted. Example 10: ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 22 / 27 . are called fission fragments. After bombarding uranium (Z = 92) with neutrons. The resulting nuclei. Fission also results in the production of several neutrons. following some basic studies by Fermi. typically two or three. a similar process occurs: • • • • The 235U nucleus captures a thermal neutron. A typical reaction for uranium is Of the 200 MeV or so released in this reaction. 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. About 2. However. In such a reaction. if enough energy is added top set the drop into vibration. Lisa Meitner and Otto Frisch explained what had happened. All the atoms in the drop have energy. The breakup of the uranium nucleus can be compared to what happens to a drop of water when excess energy is added to it. 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. This capture results in the formation of 236U*. but this energy is not great enough to break up the drop. and the excess energy of this nucleus causes it to undergo violent oscillations. the combined rest mass of the daughter nuclei is less than the rest mass of the parent nucleus. most goes into the kinetic energy of the heavy fragments barium and krypton. emitting several neutrons in the process. barium and lanthanum. X and Y. Hahn and Strassman discovered among the reaction products two medium-mass elements. it elongates and compresses until the amplitude of vibration becomes large enough to cause the drop to break. Shortly thereafter. In the uranium nucleus.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics Nuclear fission Nuclear fission was first observed in 1938 by Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman. The uranium nucleus had split into two nearly equal fragments after absorbing a neutron. Nuclear fission occurs when a heavy nucleus splits/fissions into two smaller nuclei. 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.

Exercise: 1.00 × 103 g  23 N =   235 g/mol  × 6.37 x 107 kWh.56 x 1024 nuclei ( ) Hence the total disintegration energy is E = NQ = (2. Since A = 235.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.00 kg of uranium. Thus. 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. 1 kg of 235U is a relatively large amount of fissionable material.45 x 10-20 kWh.32 x 1026 MeV Since MeV is equivalent to 4. two neutrons are released in the first event and three in the second. neutrons are also released. Solution: By balancing mass number and atomic number we find that these reactions can be written Thus. This is enough energy to keep a 100 W lightbulb burning for about 30 000 years. E = 2.02 × 10 nuclei/mol   = 2. the number of nuclei is  1. 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. taking the disintegration energy per event to be Q = 208 MeV.00 kg of 235U undergoes fission. Find the number of neutrons released in each event.56 x 1024 nuclei) ( 208 MeV/nucleus ) = 5.

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.5 x 107. 234 90 238 92 238 92 U.050784 u and alpha particle has a mass of 4. 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. Such a high temperature is required to drive these reactions. U has 5.4 Fusion Two small nuclei fuse to form a larger one. is an example of an uncontrolled thermonuclear fusion reaction.6. a mass of 238. ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 24 / 27 . All of the reactions in the proton-proton cycle are exothermic. An overall view of the protonproton cycle is that four protons combine to form an alpha particle and two positrons. Most of the energy production takes place at the Sun’s interior. The hydrogen (fusion) bomb first exploded in 1952.043 583 u. 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. there is a loss of mass accompanied by a release of energy.PPH0105 Modern Physics and Thermodynamics 2. with the release of 25 MeV of energy. 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. where the temperature is approximately 1. Because the mass of the final nucleus is less than the combined rest masses of the original nuclei.002602 u.

The fundamental problem is to give the two nuclei enough kinetic energy to overcome this repulsive force. Estimate the effective temperature required for a deuteron to overcome the potential barrier. Comparatively few radioactive by-products are formed. ii) Unfortunately. assuming an energy of 3/2kBT per deuteron (where kB is Boltzmann’s constant) ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 25 / 27 . the end product of the fusion of hydrogen nuclei is safe. This can be accomplished by heating the fuel to extremely high temperatures (to about 108 K. 03 MeV 2 H + 1 H − − − −> 23 He + 01 n − − − − > Q = 3 . 27 MeV 3 H + 1 H − − − −> 24 He + 01 n − − − − > Q = 17 . 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 . far greater than the interior temperature of the Sun). At these temperatures. if deuterium were used as the fuel. 0. For the proton-proton cycle. (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. the atoms are ionised and the system consists of a collection of electrons and nuclei commonly referred to as plasma. and many difficulties must be resolved before a successful device is constructed. Some of its advantages are: i) Controlled fusion is often called the ultimate energy source because of the availability of its fuel source: water.12 g of it could be extracted from 1 gal of water at a cost of four cents. A great deal of effort is currently under the way to develop a sustained and controllable thermonuclear reactor – a fusion power reactor. nonradioactive helium. 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. a thermonuclear reactor that can deliver a net power output spread out over a reasonable time interval is not yet a reality.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. For example.

ASD 2011/12 Radioactivity and Nuclear Energy 26 / 27 . Calculations show that if the chain reaction is not controlled (if it doesn’t proceed slowly).07 MeV = 1.14 MeV ( )( ( ) ) 2 (b) Since the total Coulomb energy of the part of deuterons is 0. For the case of two deuterons. Setting this equal to the average thermal energy per deuteron gives 3/2kBT = 1.0 × 10 −14 m = 2.5 neutron are emitted per event. mass of boron = 10.016003u. These neutrons can in turn trigger other nuclei to fission with the possibility of a chain reaction. an average of 2.3 × 10-14 J = 0. with the release of an enormous amount of energy.3 × 10-8 K T= − 23 3 × 1.002602u.1 × 10-14 J.6.60 × 10 −19 C e2 U = ke = 8. q1 = q2 = +e. the Coulomb energy per deuteron is 0.012936u and mass of neutron = 1.38 × 10-23 J/K.6.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. it could result in a violent explosion.14 MeV. we saw that. when 235U fission.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. so that 1.5 Chain Reaction In the 5.99 × 10 9 N.m 2 r 1.1 × 10 −14 J = 5.1 × 10-14 J where kB is equal to 1.008665u] 5. Solving for T gives 2 × 1.4 (fission) section. mass of alpha = 4.

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

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