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isotopes and stability Page Conclusion Page Bibliography Page . Contents: Introduction Page Protons and neutrons – Nuclear stability Page Nuclear Binding Energy Page Band of stability Page Stability and radioactive decay Page The Odd-even rule Page The Magic Numbers Page Periodic table – elements.

If the number of neutrons changes in the process. the number of protons indicates the atomic number (Z). known as nucleons.00866 amu). In an attempt to reach a more stable arrangement of its protons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons – Nuclear stability: The atomic nuclei of all chemical elements consist of protons and neutrons. or positron decay. In essence.Introduction: Nuclear stability is the ability of an isotope to resist decay or fission. Nuclear Binding Energy: Nuclear binding energy is an energy required to break up a nucleus into its components protons and neutrons. Thus. thus the nucleus is stable and does not spontaneously emit any kind of radioactivity. However. As a result. In an atom. in relation to the number of protons with their positive charges. With more than 83 protons. strictly so that the relative distances of the particles from each other are infinite. Nuclear binding energy is derived from the strong nuclear force and is the energy required to disassemble a nucleus into free unbound neutrons and protons. Nuclear binding energy can be found from the easily measurable difference in mass of a nucleus. However. the nucleus becomes unstable and subject to certain types of radioactive decay. Bismuth-83 is the heaviest element of which at least one isotope (Bi- 209) is stable. a different isotope is formed. This decay of the nucleus is referred to as radioactive decay and is extremely important in creating nuclear stability. as the number of protons increases. the atomic nucleus is unstable and undergoes radioactive decay. called the mass defect. neutron: 1. If the number of protons changes in the process. then the atom will disintegrate and cease to exist. have a similar mass (proton: 1. most commonly alpha decay. but only the protons are electrically charged (+1 e). Unstable isotopes decay through various radioactive decay pathways. irrespective of the number of neutrons. Once this mass difference. Einstein's mass-energy equivalence formula E = mc² . the nucleus of a radioisotope is unstable. because if the nucleus is unstable. beta decay. if too many or too few neutrons are present with regard to the optimum ratio. then an atom of a different element is formed. it is a quantitative measure of the nuclear stability. Atomic nuclei are stable if they contain an adequate number of neutrons. and the sum of the masses of the number of free neutrons and protons that make up the nucleus. the nucleus will spontaneously decay to form a different nucleus. while its mass number (A) is equal to the sum of both protons and neutrons. is known.00727 amu. an increasing ratio of neutrons to protons is needed to form a stable nucleus. These two fundamental particles in nuclear stability.

can be used to find the binding energy of any nucleus. protons vs. This is due to the need for more neutrons to compensate for the increasing proton repulsions. would fall in an area enclosed by two curved lines known as the band of stability. thus finding the quantitative measure of nuclear stability for that nuclei. the ratio of neutrons to protons increases. Example: C-12 has 6 n and 6 p therefore. Isotopes below and to the right of the band are positron emitters (want to lose a proton and gain a neutron) and Isotopes above element 83 are alpha emitters (have too many nucleons). Isotopes above and to the left of the band are beta emitters (want to lose a neutron and gain a proton). In the band of stability. The band of stability stops at Bi. The ratio n/p is 1 for low nuclear masses and it increases steadily up to 1. Also. neutrons. atoms are stable. Elements lying outside the band of stability are too unstable to be made. if plotted on a graph of no. as the no. n/p =1 Pb-206 has 124 n and 82 p therefore.5 for high nuclear masses. n/p = 1. protons increases. Band of stability: Nuclear stability.83 because it’s the last stable element. no.5 .

Emission of gamma rays does not result in transformation. In addition. an alpha particle will tunnel out of the nucleus. but instead emits energy. Beta decay occurs when the neutron to proton ratio is too great in the nucleus and causes instability. it changes into a nucleus of another element. When alpha. The electron is then emitted. The reason alpha decay occurs is because the nucleus has too many protons which cause excessive repulsion. alpha particles. thus being unstable. Here's a diagram of beta decay with hydrogen-3: Beta particles are identical to electrons and thus have a charge of (-1). or positrons are emitted from the nuclei of a radioactive atom. positrons . beta. During this process the nucleus may emit one or more particles. The way it works is that the Helium nuclei are in constant collision with the walls of the nucleus. causing instability. Scientists refer to this as transformation. This type of decay process leaves the mass number of the nuclei unchanged. and if very far from stability even neutrons and protons. thus because of its energy and mass. such as beta particles . a Helium nucleus is ejected with high energy from an unstable nucleus. In an attempt to reduce the repulsion. A nucleus which has too many or too few neutrons for its number of protons will be unstable and may spontaneously rearrange its constituent particles to form a more stable nucleus. excess energy may be released as gamma-rays . The Beta decay process sometimes causes positron decay which ultimately is the decay in which a proton is turned into a neutron. This decay forms a new element that will be down and to the right on the zone of stability plot.Stability and Radioactive Decay: About 2500 different nuclides have been identified and the majority of these are unstable. a neutron is turned into a proton and an electron. . In basic beta decay.

calcium-48. only 5 have odd numbers of protons and neutrons. Promethium and all the elements with an atomic number over 82 have isotopes that are known to decompose through radioactive decay. These certain numbers are called the magic numbers. These doubly magic nuclei have both full proton shells and full neutron shells. Although Gamma decay isn’t directly involved in nuclear instability. in the process. the nucleus is much more stable than when the shells are only partially filled. and the rest have a mixed number. beta and positron decay which are directly involved in instability. However. therefore they are especially stable. of the first 82 elements in the periodic table. The Magic Numbers Another rule of nuclear stability is that isotopes with certain numbers of protons and neutrons are more stable then the rest. and 126. oxygen-16. 82. emits a high energy photon known as a gamma particle. it often accompanies other processes of decay such as alpha. 8. calcium-40. Periodic table – Elements. When two protons or neutrons spin whilst paired their combined energy is less than when they are unpaired. and lead-208. they consist of: 2. When the shells are full.Gamma decay occurs because the nucleus is at too high an energy. have a number of protons and neutrons that are the same as the magic number. isotopes and stability: Some interesting facts about nuclear stability are. Doubly magic nuclei. The number of neutrons or protons in the closed shells yields the magic numbers. the isotope is more stable than when the numbers are odd. As the proton and neutron numbers depart further and further from the magic numbers. neutrons and protons are arranged within the nucleus in shells that are able to accommodate only fixed maximum numbers of them. 80 have isotopes that are stable. whereas 157 have even numbers. 50. the nuclei are relatively less stable. This is due to the nucleons spinning. Out of all the 264 stable isotopes. 28. it is possible that some isotopes that are presently considered stable will be revealed to decay with extremely long . 20. such as helium-4. The Odd-Even Rule When the numbers of neutrons and protons in the nucleus are even numbers. The nucleus falls down to a lower energy state and. The magic numbers derive from calculations of the energy distribution based on the theoretical structure of the nucleus. According to theory. Technetium.

we would have no knowledge of some the fundamental parts of Chemistry and the main science. while all the others are produced either by radioactive decay or are synthesized in laboratories and nuclear reactors. leaving us with only 256 stable nuclides. Conclusion: Nuclear stability is a vital part of chemistry. The other 37 discovered elements have isotopes which are all known to be radioactive. Of these elements. . Because of their long half-lives. which has been predicted to be unstable with a very long half-life. Physics. Another notable example is the only naturally-occurring isotope of bismuth. All the primordial isotopes are given in order of their decreasing abundance on Earth. five have seven isotopes. and are called primordial isotopes. physics and especially in our daily lives. nine have four. they are in abundance. We wouldn’t know such things as radioactive decay. For without it. Of these. which all are very important in our daily lives as sources of energy . as was the case in 2003 with bismuth-209 which had been previously considered to be stable. and 26 have a single stable isotope. The longest-lived isotope is Ta-180m which is predicted to have a half life in excess of 1015 years. and has never been observed to decay. nuclear binding energy . but has only recently been observed to decay. without nuclear stability the elements and isotopes with unstable nucleuses would cease to exist. nine have five isotopes. only (Tin) one has 10 stable isotopes. Only 13 of these 37 elements have isotopes with a half-life of at least 100 years. they are used in academic research and sometimes in industry and medicine. Also.etc. The elements in this list are ordered according to the lifetime of their most stable isotope. five have three stable isotopes. For each of the 80 stable elements the number of the stable isotopes is given. Every known isotope of remaining 24 elements are highly radioactive.half-lives. one (Xenon) has nine isotopes. This means that we wouldn’t have important elements and their isotopes. there are presently 256 stable nuclides known. such as uranium-238. the band of stability. plutonium-244 and many more. half lives. 16 have two stable isotopes. Thus. eight have six isotopes.etc. which results from the need for stability. four are primordial because they have long enough half-times to still be found on Earth.

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