# L 37 Modern Physics [3]

```L 37 Modern Physics [3]
• [L37] Nuclear physics
– what’s inside the nucleus and
what holds it together
– carbon dating
• [L38] Nuclear energy
– nuclear fission
– nuclear fusion
– nuclear reactors
– nuclear weapons
Structure of the nucleus
nucleus
The diameter of the nucleus
smaller that the overall
diameter of the atom.
10-15 m
protons +
10-8 m
neutrons
The atom and the nucleus
• the attractive force between the positive
protons and the negative electrons is what
holds the atom together
• the neutrons and protons have about the
same mass, and are each about 2000
times more massive than the electrons
• the nucleus accounts for about 99.9% of
the total mass of the atom
• the neutrons have no charge  what role
do they play????
Terminology of nuclear physics
• atomic number Z – the number of protons
in the nucleus, this is equal to the number
of electrons in the atom, since atoms are
electrically neutral. The atomic number is
what distinguishes one atom from another
• N = the number of neutrons in the nucleus,
atoms with the same Z but different N’s are
called isotopes
• atomic mass number A = Z + N = the
number of protons + neutrons, A
determines the mass of the nucleus
SYMBOL FOR A NUCLEUS FOR
A CHEMICAL X
Number of protons
and neutrons
A
Z
X
Number of
protons
examples
• Hydrogen
• Deuterium
1
1
2
1
• Tritium
3
1
• Alphas
4
2
• Carbon
12
6
1 proton, 0 neutrons
H
H
1 proton, 1 neutron
H
1 proton, 2 neutrons
He
2 protons, 2 neutrons
13
6
14
6
C, C , C
• Uranium-235
235
92
U
6 protons, 6, 7, 8 neutrons
has 235 – 92 = 143 neutrons
this is “enriched” uranium, natural uranium U-238
contains only 0.7% of this fissionable isotope.
What holds the nucleus together ?
nuclear glue
• The nucleus contains
positively charged protons all
in a very small volume and all
repelling each other
• so what keeps the nucleus
together?
•
the nuclear force (glue)
• this is where the neutrons
play a role
++
+
the nuclear force
• in addition to the repulsive electric force
between the protons, the protons and
neutrons also exert an attractive nuclear
force on each other when they are very
close to each other.
• However the nuclear force of the protons
isn’t enough to hold the nucleus together,
but the neutrons add more “nuclear glue”
without adding the repulsive electric force.
• stable nuclei have as many neutrons as
protons or more neutrons than protons
• in some nuclei, there is a very delicate
balance between electric repulsion and
nuclear attraction forces.
• sometimes the nucleus is just on the verge
of falling apart and needs to release some
excess energy  an unstable nucleus
• an unstable nucleus can disintegrate
spontaneously by emitting certain kinds of
particles or very high energy photons
• some nuclei are naturally radioactive and
give off either alpha rays (He nucleus),
bets rays (electrons) or gamma rays (high
energy photons) randomly
• the particles are classified in terms their
ability to penetrate matter, gammas are
the most penetrating and alphas the least
penetrating. Gammas can go right through
• how do we detect these particles – using a
Geiger counter
Geiger Counters
A gas filled metal cylinder
with a positive wire down
the center
the ray ionizes the gas,
and the resulting
electrons are collected
by the center + wire,
the result is a pulse
(“blip”) of current
Geiger tube
+ High
Voltage
Electronic
counter
Alpha, beta and gamma ray detection
in a magnetic field
Gamma rays (from Cobalt -60) are focused
to a point in the brain to kill tumors
• the decay of radioactive nuclei is a random
process. If you have a sample of many
unstable nuclei, you cannot predict when
any one of them will disintegrate
then the HALF LIFE T1/2 is defined as the
time for half of the nuclei present to
disintegrate.
Half Life, T1/2
START
y = 6050.9 * e^(-0.27681x) R= 0.99961
7000
6000
137
Ba
5000
4000
3000
0.0000
0.50000
1.0000
1.5000
2.0000
2.5000
3.0000
3.5000
4.0000
4.5000
2.5, 3000
6129.0
5268.0
4583.0
3987.0
3503.0
2953.0
2584.0
2320.0
2024.0
1753.0
2000
1000
0
0
1
2
3
time (min)
4
5
y = 6459.2 * e^(-0.0051577x) R= 0.99919
7000
0, 6334.4
6000
5000
4000
140, 3144.3
3000
2000
1000
0
0
50 100 150 200 250 300 350
time (s)
May 5, 2008
y = 9984.4 * e^(-0.0048009x) R= 0.9999
10000
T
1/2
= 2.5 min
8000
6000
0.0000
30.000
60.000
90.000
120.00
150.00
180.00
210.00
240.00
270.00
9969.0
8603.0
7495.0
6495.0
5579.0
4897.0
4215.0
3658.0
3207.0
2674.0
4000
2000
0
0
50
100
150
200
TIME (s)
250
300
350
Data 1--- 12/8/08
7000
y = 6030.8 * e^(-0.004874x) R= 0.99993
6000
5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
0
50
100
150
time (s)
200
250
300
May 1, 2009
5000
y = 4647.6 * e^(-0.0046112x) R= 0.99927
4648
4000
3000
&frac12; 4648
2000
1000
0
0
50
100
150
time (seconds)
200
250
300
12/04/09
3500
y = 3384.1 * e^(-0.0047087x) R= 0.99845
T
3000
1/2
= 147 s
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
50
100
150
time (s)
200
250
300
t (min) Counts
0.0000 5456.0
0.50000 4761.0
1.0000 4040.0
1.5000 3451.0
2.0000 3071.0
2.5000 2661.0
3.0000 2386.0
3.5000 2009.0
4.0000 1741.0
4.5000 1486.0
Nuclear reactions
•
222
86
Rn decays to 21884 Po by emitting an
alpha particle (42 He ) with a half life of 3.8
days.
• If we started with 20,000 atoms of Rn-222,
then in 3.8 days we would have 10,000
atoms of Rn-222 and 10,000 atoms of Po218
• In 7.6 days we would have 5000 atoms of
Rn-222, in 11.4 days, 2500 Rn-222’s, etc
Americium 241
Smoke detectors have
emitting source. The
alpha particles ionize
the air in the detector
creating a current.
If smoke particles enter
the detector they can
interfere with the
current causing it to
drop, which sets off the
alarm.
Dating a Fossil
• As soon as a living organism dies, it stops taking
in new carbon. The ratio of carbon-12 to carbon14 at the moment of death is the same as every
other living thing, but the carbon-14 decays and is
not replaced. The carbon-14 decays with its halflife of 5,700 years, while the amount of carbon-12
remains constant in the sample. By looking at the
ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the sample and
comparing it to the ratio in a living organism, it is
possible to determine the age of a formerly living
thing fairly precisely.
222
86
Rn
occurs naturally in soil and
can leak into basements. It
has a half-life of 3.8 days and
emits both betas and alphas
which can attach to dust
particles and be inhaled.
• cosmic rays – energetic
particles from the cosmos
enter the atmosphere and
decay
Cosmic ray
shower
Nuclear activation
• some nuclei that are stable can be