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Nuclear Force


It is a paradox of nuclear science that the first evidence for the existence of nuclear forces, the discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896, preceded by about 15 years Ernest Rutherford's discovery of the nucleus itself, which occurred in the years 1909-11. The properties of a nucleus are determined by the forces acting between its constituent neutrons and protons. The nuclear part of this force is extremely complicated and difficult to derive from first principles and express in an explicit form. 

Nuclear Force Definition

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A nucleus consists of protons and neutrons. As the protons have positive charge, the electrostatic force between them will be repulsive, while the neutrons do not exert any electrostatic force between them. Thus, the overall force is repulsive. Due to this repulsive force the nuclei must be highly unstable, but normally it is highly stable. Therefore, there must be some other forces which bind the nucleons within the nucleus. These forces are called nuclear forces. The nuclear forces must be short range forces and strongly attractive in nature.

Strong Nuclear Force

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As the number of nucleons in a nucleus increases, the very limited range of the strong nuclear force also influences its stability in a different manner. To maintain stability in a given nucleus, the attraction between nucleons due to the strong nuclear force must balance the electrostatic repulsion between protons. Because the electrostatic force exerts influence over a very large distance, an individual proton actually interacts with and repels all other protons in a nucleus.

The study of the simplest stable nuclei like 1H2 shows that the nuclear force must be very strong. So, the magnitude of nuclear forces is many times larger than the electrostatic repulsion between the protons in the nucleus. It is about 1038 times the gravitational force between the nucleons. Thus, the nuclear forces cannot be gravitational in nature. In general, the nuclear forces are not central forces.

Example : The force between the nucleons in the nucleus.

Weak Nuclear Force

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In general, nuclear forces are highly strong in nature. But among these force weak force is also exists. These forces are acting between the W and Z bosons. Because of the mass of these particles this force is short range. This force results the changes among the different quarks. It can act between leptons and quarks.
Deuterium is a stable isotope of hydrogen and it is also known as heavy hydrogen. Deuterium is denoted as 1H2. To study the nuclear force this isotope is used. During this experiments it is verified that nuclear force is the strongest force in the nature. It is responsible for the binding force among the nucleons. Deuterium consists of one proton and one neutron in the nucleus. Given figure depicts the deuterium atom.
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