What is Transmutation: Definition and 20 Discussions

Nuclear transmutation is the conversion of one chemical element or an isotope into another chemical element. Because any element (or isotope of one) is defined by its number of protons (and neutrons) in its atoms, i.e. in the atomic nucleus, nuclear transmutation occurs in any process where the number of protons or neutrons in the nucleus is changed.
A transmutation can be achieved either by nuclear reactions (in which an outside particle reacts with a nucleus) or by radioactive decay, where no outside cause is needed.
Natural transmutation by stellar nucleosynthesis in the past created most of the heavier chemical elements in the known existing universe, and continues to take place to this day, creating the vast majority of the most common elements in the universe, including helium, oxygen and carbon. Most stars carry out transmutation through fusion reactions involving hydrogen and helium, while much larger stars are also capable of fusing heavier elements up to iron late in their evolution.
Elements heavier than iron, such as gold or lead, are created through elemental transmutations that can only naturally occur in supernovae. As stars begin to fuse heavier elements, substantially less energy is released from each fusion reaction. This continues until it reached iron which is produced by an endothermic reaction consuming energy. No heavier element can be produced in such conditions.
One type of natural transmutation observable in the present occurs when certain radioactive elements present in nature spontaneously decay by a process that causes transmutation, such as alpha or beta decay. An example is the natural decay of potassium-40 to argon-40, which forms most of the argon in the air. Also on Earth, natural transmutations from the different mechanisms of natural nuclear reactions occur, due to cosmic ray bombardment of elements (for example, to form carbon-14), and also occasionally from natural neutron bombardment (for example, see natural nuclear fission reactor).
Artificial transmutation may occur in machinery that has enough energy to cause changes in the nuclear structure of the elements. Such machines include particle accelerators and tokamak reactors. Conventional fission power reactors also cause artificial transmutation, not from the power of the machine, but by exposing elements to neutrons produced by fission from an artificially produced nuclear chain reaction. For instance, when a uranium atom is bombarded with slow neutrons, fission takes place. This releases, on average, 3 neutrons and a large amount of energy. The released neutrons then cause fission of other uranium atoms, until all of the available uranium is exhausted. This is called a chain reaction.
Artificial nuclear transmutation has been considered as a possible mechanism for reducing the volume and hazard of radioactive waste.

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  1. P

    A What is Dimensional Transmutation?

    Hi, I'd like to make sure my understanding of dimensional transmutation is correct. The key insight of QFT is that introducing quantum fluctuation can break the scale invariance of a classical theory that is naively scale invariant. Equivalently, one says that the beta function can flow...
  2. ShayanJ

    A How Does Dimensional Transmutation Impact Perturbation Theory in QCD?

    Here there is some explanation about dimensional transmutation that answered some of the questions I had about it.Those explanations are all I understand about the subject. But I still have some questions. 1) Is it correct to say that dimensional transmutation means you can replace the coupling...
  3. C

    B What is Dimensional Transmutation?

    The May 2014 issue of Scientific American has the cover: Supersymmetry and the Crisis in Physics by Joseph Lykken and Maria Spiropulu with the prologue "For decades physicists have been working on a beautiful theory that has promised to lead to a deeper understanding of the quantum world. Now...
  4. J

    A Russian claim about process for elements transmutation

    What do you think? RU2563511 MICROBIOLOGICAL METHOD OF TRANSMUTATION OF CHEMICAL ELEMENTS AND CONVERSION OF ISOTOPES OF CHEMICAL ELEMENTS Viktor Kurashov, Tamara Sakhno SUBSTANCE: radioactive raw materials containing radioactive chemical elements or their isotopes, are treated with an aqueous...
  5. Alxhan

    Types of Nuclear waste transmutation

    How many ways the nuclear waste can be transmuted?
  6. UseAsDirected

    Nitrogen transmutation to carbon-14 (radiocarbon) via gamma

    Hello, I am trying to fully grasp the transmutation of nitrogen into radiocarbon (radiocarbon or carbon-14) via gamma collision high in the atmosphere But, I don't because I cannot whether something also happens to the electron. The canonical description is thus. High energy gamma particles...
  7. T

    Neutron Capture in Hydrogen Fusion Reactor

    A recent issue of Aviation Week described a novel design for a fusion reactor from the Lockheed Skunk Works. It was smaller, simpler and lighter than the extant systems now being built and they're optimistic about it's test run in five years. I wrote a letter to the editor touting this departure...
  8. P

    Exploring the Possibility of Transmutation: Physics, Fusion and Fission

    Hello, I wanted to know if it was possible to create a machine that can convert elements to those of your choosing? The most likely canadidate(and only canidate) is transmutation by fusion or fission. I know this is a physics forum but this stuff is covered in physics and you guys are pretty...
  9. M

    Transmutation of the Elements

    Lead AN 82 and gold AN 79 are fairly close to one an other on the Periodic Table - so maybe the alchemists of the middle ages were on to something. In fact it was already done: There are reports that Glenn Seaborg, 1951 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, succeeded in transmuting a minute quantity of...
  10. B

    Proton Beam Elemental Transmutation

    I was reading about Earnest Lawrence and a question dawned onto me; Let's say you bombarded a metal, let's say iron or copper, with high energy protons coming from a cyclotron. The protons going from the "dees" into an accelerating vacuum tube with the specimen at the end. Would the proton beam...
  11. S

    Rutherford and nuclear transmutation

    Hi guys, got another problem here. This one's about nuclear transmutation; Would really appreciate help! Homework Statement Consider the reaction a + 14N7 -> 17O8 + X. a) Identify X. b) The following data are available: Rest mass of a: 3.7428 GeV c^-2 Rest mass of 14N7: 13.0942...
  12. G

    Feynman diagram of K0 transmutation

    Homework Statement I need to find the Feynman diagram of the transmutation of a K0 particle (one anti-strange quark and one down quark) into its anti-particle (one strange quark and one anti-down quark). Homework Equations / The Attempt at a Solution s- has a charge of +1/3, d has a charge...
  13. D

    Transmutation of Nuclear Waste

    Hi. How viable/safe is the option of transmuting nuclear waste? Why don't we hear more about it? Is it still in the development stage (e.g. like fusion tech)? Thanks
  14. R

    Small Question on Transmutation

    I know this is probably really simplistic for you guys, but I just learned about transmutation in my Chemistry class today, and I was wondering whether or not all elements can be transmuted by bombardment with alpha (or some other) particles, or only a few can. Thanks!
  15. P

    Why is artificial transmutation not started?

    Why is artificial transmutation not started? Why is the Integral Fast Reactor not considered? I mean, its good isn't it, not producing transuranic waste? What about creating some reactor to consume all the transuranivc wastes or elements?And this is just to know, are fusion reactors being put...
  16. K

    Transmutation of hydrogen into biochemical elements?

    What research steps must be taken before we are able to convert hydrogen into carbon, oxygen, potassium, and so on? My quick estimate is that we may be able to do this with a particle accelerator and bombard hydrogen with neutrons and protons, with some massive amount of energy loss in the...
  17. C

    Transmutation: Myth or Reality?

    what is it exactly? is it some sort of mythological thing because of symbols? or is it just simply changing elements into different ones like gases and liquids?
  18. P

    Compton Effect and Transmutation

    Suppose you have some thin film of pure carbon graphite sitting on some metal, like iron. Now we start irradiating some EM energy on it the graphite, but at a specific frequency. Is it possible to select a frequency, and potentially some sort of spread/interference pattern to the EM energy...
  19. arivero

    Transmutation: Enhancing Disintigration Rates of α-Decay

    Has anyone thought of a mechanism enhancing the disintigration rates of α-decay?