WJEC GCSE Physics 3 Nuclear Physics

Nuclear Physics (for triple scientists)

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  • Created on: 22-05-12 18:19
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Triple Physics Revision Notes;
Nuclear Physics
History of the atom:
Originally thought everything was made from earth, wind, fire and water
Democratus coined the term `atomos', meaning indestructible, and found that everything
was made from atoms
J. J. Thompson
Found small particles with negative charge emitted by highly charged metal, he called them
electrons and proposed the plum pudding model.
Ernst Rutherford
Fired (alpha) particles at gold foil, some bounced back proving a positive mass in a heavy
centre with electrons whizzing around.
Neils Bohr
Suggested electron shells to explain emission of light by different elements. Electrons
moving between shells attracted or emitted different frequencies of light.

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Atomic structure
Number of protons-Atomic number
Number of electrons- Atomic number
Number of neutrons- Mass number ­ atomic number
Number of nucleons- Mass number
Mass number- The number of nucleons (particles in the
Atomic number- The number of protons- this is the
number which determines the element, as each
different element has a unique number of protons.…read more

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Nuclear Fission:
This is when a neutron is fired at a stable nucleus i.e. Uranium- 235 creating U-236, this is
unstable and splits into two daughter nuclei and some neutrons- the products are completely
random. This process also releases a large amount of energy.
This can happen spontaneously (naturally) or can be induced by humans. Both controlled and
uncontrolled fission reactions result in large amounts of unstable nuclei, with varying half
lives.…read more

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Nuclear Fission Reactors:
The fuel is contained in the nuclear fuel element/ uranium rod.
The reactor is controlled by inserting control rods into the core which stops neutrons passing
through. The graphite core slows neutrons down.
Control rods made from boron absorb excess neutrons to prevent from causing a chain
If the control rods were removed, neutrons would pass through and start a chain reaction.
Nuclear Fusion:
Nuclear fusion is the reaction which powers the
sun.…read more

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1 H + 31H 4
2 He + 10n…read more


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