The scientists have recently created lightest form of Uranium.
The new found uranium is called the Uranium-214.
The researchers created the new uranium isotope at the Heavy Ion Research Facility in Lanzhou, China.
The discovery could reveal more about a weird alpha particle that gets ejected from certain radioactive elements as they decay.
- Uranium-214 is an isotope, or a variant of the element, with 30 more neutrons than protons, one fewer neutron than the next-lightest known uranium isotope.
- Neutrons have mass.
- The recently found uranium-214 is much lighter than more common uranium isotopes.
- This includes uranium-235, which is used in nuclear reactors and has 51 extra neutrons.
- It had a half-life of just half a milli-second. The half life of a radioactive sample is the time taken for half of the radioactive sample to decay.
- The most common isotope of uranium — called uranium-238.
- It has a half-life of about 4.5 billion years, which is about the age of Earth.
- This newfound isotope isn’t just lighter than others, but it also showed unique behaviors during its decay.
- As such, the new findings will help scientists better understand a radioactive decay process known as alpha decay, in which an atomic nucleus loses a group of two protons and two neutrons — collectively called an alpha particle.
Note: The alpha particles are those particles that get ejected from radioactive elements as they decay.
- However, though scientists know that alpha decay results in the ejection of this alpha particle, after a century of study but they still don’t know the exact details of how the alpha particle is formed before it gets ejected.
How was Uranium-214 created?
- A beam of Argon was projected on Tungsten inside a machine called a gas-filled recoil separator — in this case the Spectrometer for Heavy Atoms and Nuclear Structure, or SHANS.
- The researchers then added protons and neutrons to the material through a LASER beam to create Uranium-214.
- The scientists found that protons and neutrons of Uranium-214 interacted much more strongly than in isotopes with similar number of neutrons and protons.