Nuclear chemistry is the subfield of chemistry dealing with radioactivity, nuclear processes and nuclear properties.
It is the chemistry of radioactive elements such as the actinides, radium and radon together with the chemistry associated with equipment (such as nuclear reactors) which are designed to perform nuclear processes. This includes the corrosion of surfaces and the behavior under conditions of both normal and abnormal operation (such as during an accident). An important area is the behavior of objects and materials after being placed into a nuclear waste storage or disposal site.
In the physical sciences, subatomic particles are the particles smaller than an atom. (although some subatomic particles have mass greater than some atoms). There are two types of subatomic particles: elementary particles, which according to current theories are not made of other particles; and composite particles. Particle physics and nuclear physics study these particles and how they interact.
The elementary particles of the Standard Model include:
Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and the processes by which these arrangements change. This includes ions as well as neutral atoms and, unless otherwise stated, for the purposes of this discussion it should be assumed that the term atom includes ions.
The term atomic physics is often associated with nuclear power and nuclear bombs, due to the synonymous use of atomic and nuclear in standard English. However, physicists distinguish between atomic physics — which deals with the atom as a system consisting of a nucleus and electrons — and nuclear physics, which considers atomic nuclei alone.
In chemistry and physics, the atomic number (also known as the proton number) is the number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom and therefore identical to the charge number of the nucleus. It is conventionally represented by the symbol Z. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element. In an atom of neutral charge, the atomic number is also equal to the number of electrons.
The atomic number, Z, should not be confused with the mass number, A, which is the number of nucleons, the total number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom. The number of neutrons, N, is known as the neutron number of the atom; thus, A = Z + N (these quantities are always whole numbers). Since protons and neutrons have approximately the same mass (and the mass of the electrons is negligible for many purposes), and the mass defect of nucleon binding is always small compared to the nucleon mass, the atomic mass of any atom, when expressed in unified atomic mass units (making a quantity called the "relative isotopic mass,") is roughly (to within 1%) equal to the whole number A.
The nucleus is the very dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom. It was discovered in 1911 as a result of Ernest Rutherford's interpretation of the 1909 Geiger–Marsden gold foil experiment performed by Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden under Rutherford's direction. The proton–neutron model of nucleus was proposed by Dmitry Ivanenko in 1932. Almost all of the mass of an atom is located in the nucleus, with a very small contribution from the electron cloud.
The diameter of the nucleus is in the range of 1.75 fm (1.75×10−15 m) for hydrogen (the diameter of a single proton)]not in citation given[ to about 15 fm for the heaviest atoms, such as uranium. These dimensions are much smaller than the diameter of the atom itself (nucleus + electron cloud), by a factor of about 23,000 (uranium) to about 145,000 (hydrogen).]citation needed[
A chemical element is a pure chemical substance consisting of one type of atom distinguished by its atomic number, which is the number of protons in its nucleus. Elements are divided into metals, metalloids, and non-metals. Familiar examples of elements include carbon, oxygen (non-metals), silicon, arsenic (metalloids), aluminium, iron, copper, gold, mercury, and lead (metals).
The lightest chemical elements, including hydrogen, helium (and smaller amounts of lithium, beryllium and boron), are thought to have been produced by various cosmic processes during the Big Bang and cosmic-ray spallation. Production of heavier elements, from carbon to the very heaviest elements, proceeded by stellar nucleosynthesis, and these were made available for later solar system and planetary formation by planetary nebulae and supernovae, which blast these elements into space. The high abundance of oxygen, silicon, and iron on Earth reflects their common production in such stars, after the lighter gaseous elements and their compounds have been subtracted. While most elements are generally viewed as stable, a small amount of natural transformation of one element to another also occurs at the present time through decay of radioactive elements as well as other natural nuclear processes.
The Rutherford model is a model of the atom devised by Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford directed the famous Geiger-Marsden experiment in 1909 which suggested, upon Rutherford's 1911 analysis, that the so-called "plum pudding model" of J. J. Thomson of the atom was incorrect. Rutherford's new model for the atom, based on the experimental results, contained the new features of a relatively high central charge concentrated into a very small volume in comparison to the rest of the atom and with this central volume also containing the bulk of the atomic mass of the atom. This region would be named the "nucleus" of the atom in later years.
Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies the constituents and interactions of atomic nuclei. The most commonly known applications of nuclear physics are nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons technology, but the research has provided application in many fields, including those in nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging, ion implantation in materials engineering, and radiocarbon dating in geology and archaeology.
The field of particle physics evolved out of nuclear physics and is typically taught in close association with nuclear physics.