2
$\begingroup$

I read the question If we assume that protons don't decay, then will all matter ultimately decay into Iron-56 or into nickel-62?, but I have a different question concerning the decay that has nothing to do with quantum tunneling.

My question is this: If $^{62}\rm Ni$ has a higher binding energy than $^{56}\rm Fe$, why wouldn't all of the heaviest elements (even those man-made) decay into $^{62}\rm Ni$?

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

A 235U nucleus can't just decay into 62Ni. That would violate conservation of mass-energy and conservation of charge. It can decay into 62Ni plus other products, e.g., by fission.

but I have a different question concerning the decay that has nothing to do with quantum tunneling

Fission does involve tunneling.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry - I never thought of fission as tunneling $\endgroup$ – Rick Feb 10 at 2:03
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect a very small possibility of the decay of 62 U235 into 235 Ni62 exists, although it is unthinkably small. $\endgroup$ – user259412 Feb 10 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Rick: If you draw a graph of potential energy as a function of shape, as the nucleus deforms and approaches scission, you get a barrier, and the nucleus has to tunnel out through that barrier in order to fission. $\endgroup$ – Ben Crowell Feb 10 at 17:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.