Printer Friendly

Twice-magic metal makes its debut.

A team of nuclear physicists believes that a certain isotope of nickel is so special that it spent a dozen years developing the ability to make the isotope.

On Sept. 24, researchers at the Grand Accelerateur National d'Ions Lourds in Caen, France, announced that they have made the first sample of nickel-48. Ten days of bombarding a nickel target with a stable nickel isotope yielded two of the short-lived atoms.

What's so important about nickel-48? First of all, "it is doubly, magic," says team spokesman Bertram Blank of the Centre d'Etudes Nucleaires in Bordeaux-Gradignan, France.

A nucleus enjoys greater stability if it has "magic" numbers of protons or neutrons--that is, just enough to fill concentric shells of nuclear particles--theorists say. The number of neutrons, 20, and of protons, 28, in nickel-48 both fit the bill.

Only nine others of the roughly 2,500 known atomic nuclei are doubly magic, and nickel-48 stands out even in that exclusive crowd. While naturally occurring atoms have nearly equal numbers of neutrons and protons, nickel-48 weighs in with the greatest percentage excess of protons of any nucleus. Because it's rich in protons, which repel each other, but it fills its shells, the isotope teeters between disintegration and stability.

Researchers have long waited to test models of nuclear structure on such a substance. Blank says future experiments will explore whether nickel-48 emits a type of radioactivity predicted but never seen before--ejection of two protons at once.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:isotope of nickel
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Oct 23, 1999
Previous Article:From swirl to defect in wood grain.
Next Article:New view solves semiconductor puzzle.

Related Articles
Smashing debut for novel atomic nuclei.
Element 110 makes a very fleeting debut.
Pressuring potassium to react with nickel.
Antiproton path to nuclear suburbs.
EMIS Tech.
Wanted: Medical Isotopes.
From the ground up: nickel and stainless steel markets are poised to improve, although the aerospace sector is still slumping. (Nickel/Stainless...
NIST-led international collaboration results in improved measurement technology for Light Stable Isotopes relevant to climate change research....
Xstrata Nickel boosts cobalt--nickel recycling production.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters