HSC Chemistry Assessment task 1
Nuclear Chemistry Research report
1. Distinguish between stable and radioactive isotopes and describe the conditions which a nucleus is unstable.
To understand if an element is stable we first must understand what stability is. The stability of the nucleus is directly related to the strength of the forces that hold the nuclear particles together. These protons and neutrons of the nucleus are called nucleons. The force that holds these nucleons together inside the nucleus is called the strong nuclear force. This force has special properties as it is independent of charge and is stronger than the electrostatic repulsion forces between protons.
This understanding of stability has allowed scientists to discover a ratio of neutrons to protons (n : p) to determine stability. This ratio allows scientists to categorise elements into two sections ‘light elements’, where the number of neutrons is generally the same as the number of protons, and ‘heavy elements’, where more neutrons are needed to keep the nucleus stable.
An unstable element is a radioactive element. There are no stable elements over the atomic number of 83. A radioactive element or an ‘unstable element decays over time. The decay is the emitting of particles or rays from the isotopes nucleus.
From this understanding portrayed above we understand the differences between stable and unstable isotopes. The Stable isotope does not decay and therefore, maintains a constant concentration on Earth. An unstable isotope, also known as a radioactive isotope decays. An unstable isotope may decay by the ejection of an electron or positron, known as beta decay, or by the ejection of two protons and two neutrons, known as alpha decay.
2. Describe two recent discoveries of transuranic elements explaining how they were produced.
Firstly what is a transuranic element?