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Binding Energy - Windows to the Universe

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Binding energy per nucleon as function of the nuclear mass
Image courtesy of Contemporary Physics Education Project (CPEP)

Binding Energy

A plot of the binding energy per nucleon vs. atomic mass shows a peak atomic number 56 (Iron). Elements with atomic mass less then 56 release energy if formed as a result of a fusion reaction. Above this threshold in order to release energy a fission reaction must occur.


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Atomic Mass

"Atomic mass" is a term physicists use to describe the size (mass) of an atom of a specific type. Since the nucleus of an atom contains nearly all (more than 99%) of an atom's mass, "atomic mass" is more-or-less...more

Binding Energy

A plot of the binding energy per nucleon vs. atomic mass shows a peak atomic number 56 (Iron). Elements with atomic mass less then 56 release energy if formed as a result of a fusion reaction. Above this...more

Fusion Experiments

There are several experiments worldwide where the conditions for nuclear fusion reactions have been achieved in a controlled manner. The two main approaches that are being explored are magnetic confinement...more

The Hydrogen Bomb

In the Hydrogen bomb the explosion of a nuclear fission charge (atomic bomb) produces the temperature and density necessary for the fusion of Deuterium and Tritium (isotopes of Hydrogen), resulting in...more

Creating Elements up to Iron

When the temperature in the core of a star reaches 100 million degrees Kelvin fusion of Helium into Carbon occurs (three Helium nuclei combine to form a nucleus of Carbon). In the same range of temperature...more

The Big Bang

All of the matter and energy in the Universe was initially confined in a very small region until an enormous explosion occurred, causing the Universe to expand. This expansion continues today. ...more

Neutrinos

The neutrino is an extremely light (and possibly massless) neutral particle. The neutrino belongs to the family of leptons, the particles that interact through the so-called weak force. For this reason...more

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