A desktop-computer simulation for exploring the fission barrier

Author(s)
B. Cameron Reed

ABSTRACT

A model of a fissioning nucleus that splits symmetrically both axially and equatorially is used to show how one can predict the presence of a fission barrier of several tens of MeV for nuclides of mass number A ~ 90 and of ~ 10 MeV for elements such as uranium. While the present model sacrifices some physical realism for the sake of analytic and programming simplicity, it does reproduce the general behavior of the run of fission barrier energy as a function of mass number as revealed by much more sophisticated models. Its intuitive appeal and tractability make it appropriate for presentation in a student-level “Modern Physics” class.

A model of a fissioning nucleus that splits symmetrically both axially and equatorially is used to show how one can predict the presence of a fission barrier of several tens of MeV for nuclides of mass number A ~ 90 and of ~ 10 MeV for elements such as uranium. While the present model sacrifices some physical realism for the sake of analytic and programming simplicity, it does reproduce the general behavior of the run of fission barrier energy as a function of mass number as revealed by much more sophisticated models. Its intuitive appeal and tractability make it appropriate for presentation in a student-level “Modern Physics” class.

Cite this paper

Reed, B. (2011) A desktop-computer simulation for exploring the fission barrier.*Natural Science*, **3**, 323-327. doi: 10.4236/ns.2011.34042.

Reed, B. (2011) A desktop-computer simulation for exploring the fission barrier.

References

[1] Fermi, E. (1950) Nuclear Physics. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 165.

[2] Bohr, N., and Wheeler, J. A. (1939) The mechanism of nuclear fission. Phys. Rev. 56 426-450.

[3] Bernstein, J., and Pollock, F. (1979) The calculation of the electrostatic energy in the liquid drop model of nuclear fission – a pedagogical note. Physica 96A 136-140.

[4] Reed, B. C. (2009) The Bohr-Wheeler spontaneous fission limit: an undergraduate-level derivation. Eur. J. Phys. 30 763-770.

[5] Frankel, S., and Metropolis, N. (1947) Calculations in the liquid-drop model of fission. Phys. Rev. 72, 914-925.

[6] Myers, W. D., and Swiatecki, W. J. (1966) Nuclear Masses and Deformations. Nuclear Physics 81, 1-60.

[7] Details of the calculations of the volume and surface area can be found at

[8] Reed, B. C. (2003) Simple derivation of the Bohr- Wheeler spontaneous fission limit, Am. J. Phys. 71(3), 258-260.

[9] The spreadsheet is available at.

[1] Fermi, E. (1950) Nuclear Physics. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 165.

[2] Bohr, N., and Wheeler, J. A. (1939) The mechanism of nuclear fission. Phys. Rev. 56 426-450.

[3] Bernstein, J., and Pollock, F. (1979) The calculation of the electrostatic energy in the liquid drop model of nuclear fission – a pedagogical note. Physica 96A 136-140.

[4] Reed, B. C. (2009) The Bohr-Wheeler spontaneous fission limit: an undergraduate-level derivation. Eur. J. Phys. 30 763-770.

[5] Frankel, S., and Metropolis, N. (1947) Calculations in the liquid-drop model of fission. Phys. Rev. 72, 914-925.

[6] Myers, W. D., and Swiatecki, W. J. (1966) Nuclear Masses and Deformations. Nuclear Physics 81, 1-60.

[7] Details of the calculations of the volume and surface area can be found at

[8] Reed, B. C. (2003) Simple derivation of the Bohr- Wheeler spontaneous fission limit, Am. J. Phys. 71(3), 258-260.

[9] The spreadsheet is available at