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Chemistry LibreTexts

10: Nuclear and Chemical Reactions

  • Page ID
    • 10.1: Nuclear Radiation
      Nuclear reactions are very different from chemical reactions. In chemical reactions, atoms become more stable by participating in a transfer of electrons or by sharing electrons with other atoms. In nuclear reactions, it is the nucleus of the atom that gains stability by undergoing a change of some kind. Some elements have no stable isotopes, which means that any atom of that element is radioactive. For some other elements, only certain isotopes are radioactive.
    • 10.2: Fission and Fusion
      Nuclear fission is a process in which a very heavy nucleus splits into smaller nuclei of intermediate mass. Because the smaller nuclei are more stable, the fission process releases tremendous amounts of energy. Nuclear fusion is a process in which light-mass nuclei combine to form a heavier and more stable nucleus. Fusion produces even more energy than fission. In the sun and other stars, four hydrogen nuclei combine at extremely high temperatures & pressures to produce a helium nucleus.
    • 10.3: Half-Life
      The rate of radioactive decay is often characterized by the half-life of a radioisotope. Half-life (t1/2) is the time required for one half of the nuclei in a sample of radioactive material to decay. After each half-life has passed, one half of the radioactive nuclei will have transformed into a new nuclide.
    • 10.4: Physical and Chemical Changes
      A physical change is a change to a sample of matter in which some properties of the material change, but the identity of the matter does not.  In contrast, a chemical property describes the ability of a substance to undergo a specific chemical change.
    • 10.5: Chemical Equations
      Chemical reactions are occurring all around you. Plants use sunlight to drive their photosynthetic process and produce energy. Cars and other vehicles burn gasoline in order to power their engines. Batteries use electrochemical reactions to produce energy and power many everyday devices. Many chemical reactions are going on inside you as well, especially during the digestion of food.
    • 10.6: Nuclear and Chemical Reactions (Exercises)
      These are homework exercises to accompany Chapter 10 of the University of Kentucky's LibreText for CHE 103 - Chemistry for Allied Health. Solutions are available below the questions.