Nuclear Reaction

This is the spontaneous emission of radiation that involves the nuclei of radioactive element.


Nuclear Fusion

This is the process in which two or more light nuclei of elements combine together to form a heavier nucleus with release of both energy and radiation.

This process is used to produce hydrogen bomb, it is also believed to be the source of energy of the sun and stars.


Nuclear Fission

This is the process in which the nucleus of a heavy element is split into two nuclei of nearly equal mass with a release of energy and radiation. The process is used to produce atomic bomb.



  1. Write short notes about
  1. Nuclear fission
  2. Nuclear fusion
  1. What is the principle of atomic bomb.


Effect of Radioactivity

  1. It causes changes in cell structure and body chemistry
  2. It leads to anemia, cancer, leukemia and genetic mutations, even death

The thick blocks of lead, iron and high density concrete can be used to get shielded from the harmful effect of radioactive rays.


 Application of Radioactivity

  1. sterilization
  2. medical uses
  3. industrial uses
  4. agricultural uses
  5. as radioactive tracers
  6. used for dating techniques


Differences Between Nuclear Reaction and Chemical Reactions

           Nuclear Reaction                                Chemical Reaction

  1. Release large amount of energy                         Release little amount of energy when                                                                                                   compared to that of nuclear reaction
  2. It involves nuclei of atoms of radioactive It revolves the outer most electrons of

elements                                                                  atoms.

  1. This produces different elements The compound produces contain the same            type of element from the reactants.
  2. It produces radiation             No radiation produce
  3. Temperature and pressure have no effect Both temperature and pressure have

on chemical reaction                                                efects on chemical reaction


Artificial Transmutation

This is the process of transmutation of an element by bombarding it with fast moving atomic particles e.g neutrons, protons, deuterons and alpha particles.

147N   + 10n            146C  + 11P

N.B: If the nucleus being bombarded is heavy it captures the neutron to produce an isotope of the original element

5927Co    +   10n                      6027CO


Binding Energy

If mathematical calculations is carried out between the parent  nucleus and daughter nuclei together with neutrons and protons on either nuclear fussion or nuclear fission, it will be found that the values are differed.

The loss of mass is known as mass defect and can be accounted for by Albert Einsteins theory of relativity.

E = MC2

E is energy in joule (j)


Radioactive Disintegration

This is the process by which radioactive elements decay spontaneously to release radiation.

During this process, there is usually transmutation of an atom . That is formation of daughter nucleus from the disintegrating nucleus.


Alpha Decay

When an atom losses ά particles during disintegration, the atomic number and atomic mass of the atoms is reduced by 2 and 4 respectively.  This can be represented as

AZK                      A-4 Z-2L    +  4 2He


e.g   238 U                   235Th    +  4 2He


Beta Decay

During beta decay the atomic number of the atom increases by one unit, but the atomic mass number remains unaltered.

AK                  (2+1)L    + -1 e


234Th                   234Pa  + -1 e


Gamma Decay

Gamma rays usually accompany the emission of either alpha or beta particles e.g

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234 Th            234Pa   + -1e + y


Radioactive Decay Series

Sometimes, if the nuclei of the new elements produced during radioactive decay is not stable, the disintegration continue until a stable nucleus is finally produced e.g. Uranium series, the thorium series and the actinium series.

M is the loss in mass in kilogram (kg) and C is the velocity of light in ms-1



  1. Define the following with an example each (a) Nuclear Fission       (b) Nuclear Fusion
  2. (a) State two effects of radioactivity. (b) State two differences between nuclear reaction and chemical reaction.



  1. Examples of radioactive elements are except (a) Uranium (b) Polonium (c) Thorium (d) Oxygen
  2. 235 92U   + 1n →  141 ­ 56Ba +  92 36Kr  + 3 1 0n

The above nuclear reaction represents (a) nuclear fission (b) nuclear fusion (c) oxidation reaction (d) esterification reaction.

  1. 238 92U             234 90Th  +   A.    In the equation, A represents (a) hydrogen (b) beryllium

(c) helium (d) oxygen

  1. Chain reaction helps during the preparation of ____ (a) Solar bomb (b) atomic bomb (c) hydrogen bomb (d) nuclear fusion
  2. 23 11Na  + 01n          2411Na The reaction represents (a) artificial radioactivity (b) Natural radioactivity (c) Nuclear fission (d) Binding energy.



  1. Explain briefly the principle of the operation of a nuclear power plant
  2. State five (5) uses of radioactivity


See also

Nuclear Chemistry





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