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Four new isotopes discovered

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HM Devaraja, PhD student at MCNS from Manipal Centre of Natural Sciences (MCNS) at Manipal University in collaboration with GSI-Giessen, Germany have discovered four new atomic nuclei to be added to the chart of the nuclides. The results are published in Physics Letters B*.

*Physics Letters B ensures the rapid publication of important new results in particle physics, nuclear physics and cosmology

  • Experiment was done at GSI Helmholtzzentrum fur Schwerionenforschung – Germany’s linear accelerator UNILAC*

*Universal Linear Accelerator can accelerate ions up to 60,000 kmps or 20 per cent the speed of light

OBJECTIVE

Developing new methods of synthesis for super heavy elements.

NEWLY DISCOVERED ISOTOPES

Berkelium (Bk, atomic number 97)

Neptunium (Np, 93)

Two isotopes of the element americium (Am, 95)

EXPERIMENT

  • With deep inelastic multinucleon transfer method researchers observed the experiment by reacting Calcium 48 (Ca48) and Curium 248 (Cu248).
  • A beam of Ca48 was projected on to a 300-nanometer-thick foil of Cu248
  • The collision threw up over 100 residual nuclei with proton numbers between 82 and 100
  • Of these particles, four new neutron-deficient isotopes were found, and were confirmed by studying their decay chains
  • 216U that decayed within 5.5 milli seconds (ms) to Thorium
  • 223Am which decayed within 7.5 ms to Protactinium
  • 233Bk which decayed in 30s to the new-isotope 229Am, which further decayed into Neptunium.
  • The decay chain of the fifth isotope 219Np could not be observed as researchers believe it decayed faster than their system, whose smallest measure is 5 micro-seconds (0.000005 seconds).

This experiment will form the base for further observations. The collaboration is seeing the development of the next generation separator “SuperSHIP” (which can record decay reactions of up to 100 nano seconds i.e. 0.01 micro seconds), which will enable detection of far more isotopes.

WHAT ARE ISOTOPES ?

Isotopes have the same number of protons and electrons, thus they have the same atomic number and the same chemical reactions. But they have different numbers of neutrons giving them different atomic masses.