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Basic Chemistry Concepts

Nuclear Chemistry

Fritz Strassmann, Pierre Curie, atomic number of uranium, Alpha particles, Nuclear Chemistry

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>  Nuclide Decay

>  Nuclear Reactions

>  Radiochemical Analysis

Nuclear Chemistry, the study of atomic nuclei, especially of radioactive nuclei, and their reactions with neutrons and other nuclei.

Early Experiments

Radioactivity was discovered in uranium salts by the French physicist Henri Becquerel in 1896. In 1898 the French scientists Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the naturally occurring radioactive elements polonium ( 84Po) and radium (88Ra). During the 1930s, Irene and Frederick Joliot-Curie made the first artificial radioactive nuclides by bombarding boron (5B) and aluminum ( 13Al) with Alpha particles to form radioactive isotopes of nitrogen ( 7N) and phosphorus (15P). Naturally occurring isotopes of these elements are stable.

The German nuclear chemists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann discovered nuclear fission in 1938. When uranium is irradiated with neutrons, some uranium nuclei split into two nuclei of about half the atomic number of uranium. Fission releases enormous energy and is used in nuclear fission weapons and reactors.

Contributors

Gordon, Glen E., Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry, University of Maryland. Coauthor of "Chemistry in Modern Perspective".



Article key phrases:

Fritz Strassmann, Pierre Curie, atomic number of uranium, Alpha particles, Nuclear Chemistry, radium, neutrons, Radioactivity, phosphorus, Irene, reactors, aluminum, reactions

 
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