Nuclear Physics

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  • Nuclear Physics
    • Nuclear fission
      • Splitting up a large nucleus into two smaller nuclei using a neutron
        • Creates a large amount of energy
        • 3 neutrons are released
          • Creates a chain reaction
        • Uses uranium or plutonium
        • Radioactive waste produced
    • Isotopes
      • An isotope is an atom with a different number of neutrons
      • Mass number changes, atomic/ proton number does not
      • 'Radioisotopes' are isotopes that are radioactive
    • Radiation
      • Alpha
        • An atom decays into a new atom and emits an alpha particle
        • 2 protons, 2 neutrons (nucleus of a helium atom)
        • Most ionising, least penatrative
      • Beta
        • An atom decays into a new atom by changing a neutron into a proton and electron. The electron is called a beta particle
      • Gamma
        • After alpha or beta decays, surplus energy is emitted - gamma radiation.It has a high frequency and a short wavelength and the atom is not changed
    • Structure of the atom
      • Plum pudding
        • A sphere of positive charge with negatively charged electrons spread through it
      • The Rutherford scattering experiment
        • Conclusion: the atom is made up of a small, positively charged nucleus surrounded by electrons orbiting
        • Rutherford directed beams of alpha particles (which are the nuclei of helium atoms and hence positively charged) at thin gold foil to test this model and noted how the alpha particles scattered from the foil.
    • Nuclear fusion
      • Happens in stars due to heat and gravity
      • Small nuclei join to create a helium nucleus - protons turned into helium
        • Large energy released
        • Would involve fusing two positive nucleui
          • We cannot do this on Earth, but would be good in the future because the biproduct is helium - not radioactive
            • Not high enough temperatures for it to work
    • Background radiation
      • 90% is caused by radon gas
      • The other causes are: food, cosmic rays, gamma rays, medical and nuclear power
      • 13% is man made
    • Ions
      • When an electron is gained or lost


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