Nuclear Physics

We all know that nuclei, the centrepiece of an atom is an integral necessity of Atomic Physics. Understanding the role, Nuclei plays in determining the information regarding high energy electron scattering is a vital aspect of Physics. As a major branch of Atomic Science (Physics), Nuclear Physics has revolutionized the understanding of the radioactivity of particulates. 

Nuclear Physics

Nuclear Physics

Introduction to Nuclear Physics

The detailed study of the nuclei of an atom along with its structure, interaction, and reaction with other nuclei is termed Nuclear Physics.

Moreover, high energy electron scattering is the key experiment to understand how nuclear matter density is proportional to the centre of the nuclei. Further, in Nuclear Physics, we study the varying properties of the nuclei using the principle of quantum mechanics.

Further, the neutrons and the protons within the nucleus have a definite angular momentum known as Shell mode helps in observing and understanding the movement or spin of the nuclei and their individual parity. Thus, the concrete determination of the nuclei spectra in their excited state is also an intrinsic part of Nuclear Physics.

Nuclear Physics vs Atomic Physic – Understanding the Specific Role of the Atoms

Atomic Physics is the study of the atomic structure, functionality, and objectives of each component. Whereas Nuclear Physics is a sub-branch of Atomic Science where a part of the Atom we know as the nucleus, we study it in depth. Further, though the origin of both the subjects is the same, however, the working mechanism of each component is widely varied.

Atomic Physics Nuclear Physics
It is the study of the properties of atoms mainly dealing with the electrons and the nuclei as a whole. It is the study of the structure, the internal reactions, and interaction of the nucleus which includes component Neutrons and Protons.
The distance of the order of Nanometers is determined in atomic physics.  The distance of the order of femtometers is determined in Nuclear Physics
The energy scale ranges from 1eV to 1 KeV.  The energy scale is much larger and ranges between 1 Mev to 1 GeV
It is mainly dictated by electromagnetic interactions.  It is directed by the nuclear force.

Nuclear Physics is an important branch of science that facilitates the understanding of nuclear reactions. Thus, over here reactions, radioactive decay, nuclei fusion, and fissions can be studied in a very detailed manner.

In fact, the term Atom Bomb is actually redundant because the detonation of an atom bomb is not because of an internal atomic reaction. Most importantly, rather it is a very intricate radioactive decay of the nuclei of an atom. Hence, the term Nuclear bomb is a much more apt description.

Law of  Radioactive Decay

A material that emits constant rays of energy is called a radioactive material. However, it is not a continuous process. According to the study conducted by Rutherford and Soddy, a material is bound to lose its radioactive properties after a given period of time. Thus, the rate of decay of radioactive atoms is proportional to the number of atoms present in the substance.

Further, if N represents the number of atoms in a radioactive substance at any given instant denoted by t, then the rate of decay of the element is directly proportional to the number of atoms i.e. N

dN/dt = decay constant of a substance x N

Hence proved that the radioactivity occurs as a result of the decay of the Nucleus

Other important conclusions derived from the Laws of Radioactive Decay include:

  1. Temperature and pressure do not play any role in the rate of decay
  2. Alpha Beta and Gamma rays emit during Radioactive decay

Alpha Decay – the alpha particle released during nuclear decay has atomic number 2 and mass number 4. So during a radioactive reaction, the atomic number decreases by 2 and the mass number by 4. Thus, we term it as Alpha Decay

Beta Decay – when a Beta particle is emitted during the radioactive reaction, 1 neutron converts to a proton in the nucleus. Hence, in Beta decay, while the atomic number increases by 1, the mass number does not change.

Gamma Decay – the gamma-ray emitted alongside the alpha and beta particles is known as Gamma decay.

Importance of Mass Defect in Nuclear Physics

We refer to the difference between the sum of the proton and neutrons and the mass of the remaining constituent of a nucleus as Mass Defect. Thus, we represent it as:

Nuclear physics

The radius of a Nuclei

The radius of a Nuclei is extremely small as compared to the Atomic radius. Moreover, calculating it requires noting a few additional features. We represent the Radii of nuclei by R.

Nuclear physics

Number of Protons and Neutrons in a Nucleus

The mass number denotes the total number of neutrons and protons in a nucleus. Further, we also refer to it as Nucleon Number

A represents the Mass number

N represents the number of Neutrons

Z represents the number of Protons


A = Z+N

Application of Nuclear Physics

Nuclear Physics has a wide range of applications in today’s world. Some of its major areas of contributions include

  1. Carbon dating of the specimen in Archeology and Geology.
  2. Nuclear Medicine for usability in drug administration and radiation therapy
  3. In the generation of usable energy
  4. Nuclear Fission reaction

FAQ on Nuclear Physics

Question 1: What are the properties of the Nuclear Force?

Answer 1: Various properties of Nuclear Force includes:

  1. The nuclear force is non-electrical in nature
  2. It is charge independent but spin-dependent
  3. Gravitational force is absent in between nuclear particles
  4. Nuclear force has a very short range of action

Question 2: What are the units of Radioactivity?

Answer 2: The nits of radioactivity are Curie, Rutherford, and Becquerel

Question 3: What are the disadvantages of Nuclear energy Application?

Answer 3: Nuclear Energy is advantageous on numerous levels. Moreover, there are certain aspects of the energy emission which Nuclear Energy creates that have a negative impact on the environment. These include:

  1. Hazardous and toxic radioactive waste causing deadly altercations on the living body
  2. Extremely high maintenance and operation cost
  3. Radioactive remnants that have a decay time of thousands of ears causing extreme environmental issues.
  4. Uranium, the core raw material needed for Nuclear reaction, is depleting from the earth’s surface at an alarming rate. Moreover, we cannot replenish it, once we consume it completely.
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