Scientists received uranium-214 isotope with a very short half-life, which can increase the efficiency of nuclear generators.
99% of uranium atoms, which are formed naturally, have 146 neutrons and 92 proton. Therefore, natural is considered uranium-238 with a half-life of about 4.5 billion years. Since all the isotopes of the element must have the same number of protons, the researchers create new options by changing the number of neutrons.
The team of scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences was able to obtain the easiest possible option of radioactive metal with only 122 neutrons, URAN-214. To do this, they bombarded a tungsten sample with a bunch of argon and calcium particles until they merged into the desired element. Such a merger is a very complex process, so about 1 quintillion collided with the target of particles, only two uranium-214 cores were formed.
Analysis of the extracted samples showed that their half-life is about 0.52 ms. Uranium-214 is subject to accelerated alpha decay, in which it loses at once two protons and neutron, which indicates a strong interaction between the subatomic particles in this isotope.
According to scientists, this ultralight version of the radioactive metal can serve as more efficient fuel for nuclear generators, and also opens up new opportunities for the disposal of waste with minimal environmental influence.
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