Why is Proton Radiation this Rare in Nuclear Fission Decay?

In summary, the conversation discusses the different types of radiation emitted during nuclear decay, including beta radiation, neutron radiation, and alpha radiation. The experts also explain why alpha radiation is more favorable in terms of energy compared to proton or neutron radiation, and how this relates to the process of nuclear fusion. However, it is clarified that the presence of heavy atoms does not necessarily make fusion easier.
  • #1
consuli
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The atomic nuclei consist out electrons, protons and neutrons (with only exception of hydrogen, that does have a neutron).

Thus, it would be straightforward, that there existed a corresponding radiation for each nucleus component, when a nucleus decays.

There is an electron radiation (beta radiation).

There is a neutron radiation.

But proton radiation is very rare. Instead there is usually alpha radiation in nuclear fission decay, which is an accelerated helium ion.

On the other hand, the element hydrogen (one proton + one electron) is much more common than helium. Thus, a single proton nucleus cannot be too unstable.

What is the quantum-mechanic explanation for there is helium-ion radiation (alpha radiation) instead of proton radiation, when a nucleus gets fissioned?
 
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  • #2
Both proton and neutron emission from a single nucleus are rare, usually these nuclei do beta decays.
Fission releases neutrons as heavier nuclei are more neutron-rich than the stable or long-living isotopes of the fission products.

Alpha particles are quite tightly bound for a light nucleus, their emission is favorable in terms of energy. Often nuclei can emit an alpha particle but not a proton or a neutron.
 
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  • #3
consuli said:
What is the quantum-mechanic explanation for there is helium-ion radiation (alpha radiation) instead of proton radiation, when a nucleus gets fissioned?

mfb said:
Alpha particles are quite tightly bound for a light nucleus, their emission is favorable in terms of energy.

Would you say this graph is a good visualization for the alpha emission being "favorable in terms of energy?" According to the graph the alpha/helium-4 nuclei has less mass per nuclear particle than the proton.

mass-per-particle.jpg
 

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  • #4
Yes.
The emission of larger nuclei like carbon can release even more energy but it is less likely that so many nucleons leave at the same time. It is called cluster decay and a very rare phenomenon.
 
  • #5
consuli said:
What is the quantum-mechanic explanation for there is helium-ion radiation (alpha radiation) instead of proton radiation, when a nucleus gets fissioned?

Mfb is right. You need to think about energetics. Typical binding energies are 8 MeV/nucleon. For proton decay to be energetically favorable, that means there neds to be nucleus one proton away that is bound by more than than that. An alpha, however, is already bound by 7 MeV per nucleon. So you only need to find a nucleus 2 protons and 2 neutrons away bound by 4 MeV more. ( [8 MeV - 7 MeV] * 4 nucleons)
 
  • #6
To get this straight. Because a proton (hydrogen-ion) does contain too much nuclear energy, a less energized helium-ion is released instead, right?

Does that also imply, I could study alpha-decay for the reason how to easierst start a nuclear fusion process of hydrogen-ion (deuterium-ion) ? Spoken otherwise, would liganding hydrogen (deuterium) to an atomic mass number heavy metal effectively be the easierst way to produce a hydrogen (deuterium) fusion to helium (ion)?
 
  • #7
It's a statement about the energy difference between the parent and daughter nuclei.

I don't know what "liganding" is in this context.
 
  • #9
consuli said:
The atomic nuclei consist out electrons, protons and neutrons

No, it consists of protons and neutrons (except the hydrogen-1 nucleus which is just a protons). The fact that some nuclei can emit electrons in beta decay does not mean the electrons are constituent particles of nuclei.
 
  • #10
consuli said:
Does that also imply, I could study alpha-decay for the reason how to easierst start a nuclear fusion process of hydrogen-ion (deuterium-ion) ? Spoken otherwise, would liganding hydrogen (deuterium) to an atomic mass number heavy metal effectively be the easierst way to produce a hydrogen (deuterium) fusion to helium (ion)?
No. Why should something fuse with something else just because some heavy atom is nearby?
 

Related to Why is Proton Radiation this Rare in Nuclear Fission Decay?

1. Why is proton radiation rare in nuclear fission decay?

Proton radiation is rare in nuclear fission decay because it requires a specific set of circumstances to occur. In nuclear fission, a heavy nucleus splits into two smaller nuclei, releasing energy in the form of radiation. Proton radiation occurs when one of these smaller nuclei, called a daughter nucleus, emits a proton. However, this only happens if the daughter nucleus is highly unstable and has excess energy to release. This is not always the case, making proton radiation a rare occurrence in nuclear fission decay.

2. Can other types of radiation occur in nuclear fission decay?

Yes, other types of radiation, such as alpha and beta particles, can also occur in nuclear fission decay. These particles are more commonly emitted than protons because they are more stable and have lower energy requirements to be released. However, proton radiation can still occur in certain circumstances, making it a unique and valuable form of radiation to study.

3. What are the potential applications of studying proton radiation in nuclear fission decay?

Studying proton radiation in nuclear fission decay can provide valuable insights into the behavior and properties of unstable nuclei. This can help scientists better understand nuclear reactions and develop more efficient and safe nuclear energy systems. Additionally, proton radiation can be used in medical treatments, such as proton therapy for cancer, due to its ability to target and deliver high doses of radiation to specific areas.

4. Is proton radiation always harmful?

Like all forms of radiation, proton radiation can be harmful if exposure levels are high enough. However, at low levels, it can actually be beneficial in medical treatments. In nuclear fission decay, the amount of proton radiation emitted is usually very low and can be shielded against, making it generally safe for use in nuclear energy and research applications.

5. Can proton radiation be controlled in nuclear fission reactions?

Yes, proton radiation can be controlled in nuclear fission reactions through various methods. These include using materials with lower neutron absorption rates, adjusting the design of the nuclear reactor, and implementing safety protocols to minimize radiation exposure. However, as proton radiation is a natural byproduct of nuclear fission, it cannot be completely eliminated but can be managed and controlled to ensure safety.

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