Traditional chemistry involves the directed or undirected manipulation of electronic properties of molecules and/or atoms. However, one can also fiddle with the nuclear aspects of atoms, which falls within the broader field of nuclear chemistry.
- Nuclear Energetics and Stability
- Nuclear energy is the energy that holds together the nuclei of atoms. Atoms are the most simple blocks that make up matter. Every atom has in its center a very small nucleus. Normally, nuclear energy is hidden inside the atoms. However, some atoms are radioactive and send off part of their nuclear energy as radiation. Radiation is given off from the nucleus of unstable isotopes of radioactive substances.
- Nuclear Kinetics
- As with chemical reactions, the nuclear reactions are not instantaneous and evolve on differing times (ranging from billions of years to microseconds). Also, as with chemical reactions, nuclear reactions follow comparable rate laws.
- Fission and Fusion
- The energy harnessed in nuclei is released in nuclear reactions. Fission is the splitting of a heavy nucleus into lighter nuclei and fusion is the combining of nuclei to form a bigger and heavier nucleus. The consequence of fission or fusion is the absorption or release of energy.
- Applications of Nuclear Chemistry
- Nuclear chemistry has many applications in agriculture, medicine, industry and research. They greatly improve the day to day quality of our lives.