Making heavy elements

  1. Hi there,

    I understood that heavy elements could only be formed in stars or supernovae explosions. However I have just read that plutonium can be made by firing deuterons at uranium. Now uranium is a smaller atom than plutonium so what it going on?

    It seems to me that heavy elements can be made in other ways than relying on stars? Can plutonium be made naturally this way?

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    Sure, we can make heavy elements. When we say that heavy elements are made only in stars/supernovas, we mean that nature only makes an appreciable amount of heavy elements in stars and supernovas. MUCH more than 99% of all heavy elements are made this way.
     
  4. naturally? As in "unassisted in nature"? Don't think so. It can be done with 16 M-ev deuterons.

    The wikipedia page on Plutonium describes the reaction in the Isotopes and synthesis section. Basically add a neutron which beta decays into a proton and voila, another element.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  5. Not that we cannot make something rather that we are extremely limit by the amount that we can make due to our limited energy , technological and other means.

    We can make antimatter too , the thing is , the quantity is next to nothing , well I believe the plutonium production is way easier.
     
  6. SteamKing

    SteamKing 9,387
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Hello! You might have heard of a little thing called the atomic bomb? It was pretty big in the TwenCen. Used lots and lots of plute. Made in these thingies called nuclear reactors. I mean this whole atomic energy thing, fission, fusion, neutrons, whatever! I mean like this stuff is still around, ya know?
     
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