• Physicists in Japan discovered a previously unknown isotope of uranium, with atomic number 92 and mass number 241, i.e Uranium-241 and its half-life, according to theoretical calculations, could be 40 minutes.

About Uranium

  • Uranium is a naturally occurring chemical element with the symbol U and atomic number 92.
  • It is a silvery-grey metal in the actinide series of the periodic table.
  • Uranium has several isotopes, which are atoms that have the same number of protons but different numbers of neutrons like U-235 and U-238.
  • It is a heavy metal that is radioactive and found in small quantities in rocks and soils worldwide.

Static Information

  • Atomic number = No. of Protons = No. of Electrons
  • of Neutrons = Atomic mass– Atomic No.

Uranium-241 discovery

  • The researchers accelerated uranium-238 nuclei into plutonium-198 nuclei at the KEK Isotope Separation System (KISS).
  • In a process called multinucleon transfer, the two isotopes exchanged protons and neutrons.
  • The resulting nuclear fragments contained different isotopes.
  • This is how the researchers identified uranium-241 and measured the mass of its nucleus by using time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

Magic numbers

  • In nuclear physics, a magic number is a number of nucleons (either protons or neutrons, separately) such that they are arranged into complete shells within the atomic nucleus.
  • As a result, atomic nuclei with a ‘magic’ number of protons or neutrons are much more stable than other nuclei.
  • The heaviest known ‘magic’ nucleus is lead (82 protons).
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