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Chemistry LibreTexts

11: Nuclear Chemistry

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  • In today’s society, the term radioactivity conjures up a variety of images. Nuclear power plants producing hydrocarbon-free energy, but with potentially deadly by-products that are difficult to store safely. Bombs that use nuclear reactions to produce devastating explosions with horrible side effects on the earth as we know it and on the surviving populations that would inhabit it. Medical technology that utilizes nuclear chemistry to peer inside living things to detect disease and the power to irradiate tissues to potentially cure these diseases. Fusion reactors that hold the promise of limitless energy with few toxic side products. Radioactivity has a colorful history and clearly presents a variety of social and scientific dilemmas. In this chapter we will introduce the basic concepts of radioactivity, nuclear equations and the processes involved in nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.

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