Have there been hypothesized processes other than nuclear fusion which could possibly create heavy elements? For example these incredibly powerful particle accelerators we are continuously building and improving.. have they shown anything pointing in such a direction?

  • $\begingroup$ Accelerators of various types have been used for decades to produce heavy elements. Unclear what your question is. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 20, 2018 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster Is what happens in those accelerators the same type of fusion as in stars or something else? $\endgroup$ Jun 20, 2018 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ They are what nuclear physics folks would consider standard nuclear reactions. Note that in normal operation stars really use a small number of reaction pathways. Supernovas reach conditions that we have no hope of achieving. Yet, either way, the nuclear reactions can be understood, and many performed in earthly labs. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 20, 2018 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ Like r-process and s-processes? $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Jun 21, 2018 at 10:06

1 Answer 1


Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction where two (or rarely, more) atomic nuclei fuse to form a heavier nucleus. So, if you add nucleons together to make a heavier nucleus, you're doing nuclear fusion.

The only exception would be if you 1) didn't count neutron capture as fusion, and 2) you could continually add neutrons and get some of them changed to protons by beta decay. You can transmute uranium like this, but then it might explode.

Maybe you're imagining forming some exotic super heavy single particle that then manages to decay into a neat bound state of hundreds of protons and neutrons? And the neutron/proton ratio somehow happens to even allow a bound state? And any excess energy just goes away nicely instead of unbinding the new nucleus?

  • $\begingroup$ I imagined somehow that the high energies maybe could synthetically create totally new particles instead of just rebinding neutrons and protons. $\endgroup$ Jul 4, 2018 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ New particles aren't new elements, though. Every chemical element is just a collection of protons and neutrons bound together. The only way to make them is to put protons and neutrons together, which is called fusion (except maybe neutron capture events, but I feel like maybe those should be included in a general definitionof fusion in this context). $\endgroup$
    – EL_DON
    Jul 4, 2018 at 14:18

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