Nuclear Force

The nuclear force (or nucleon–nucleon interaction or residual strong force) is the force between two or more nucleons. It is responsible for binding of protons and neutrons into atomic nuclei. The energy released causes the masses of nuclei to be less than the total mass of the protons and neutrons which form them; this is the energy used in nuclear power and nuclear weapons. The force is powerfully attractive between nucleons at distances of about 1 femtometer (fm) between their centers, but rapidly decreases to insignificance at distances beyond about 2.5 fm. At very short distances less than 0.7 fm, it becomes repulsive, and is responsible for the physical size of nuclei, since the nucleons can come no closer than the force allows.

The nuclear force is now understood as a residual effect of the even more powerful strong force, or strong interaction, which is the attractive force that binds particles called quarks together, to form the nucleons themselves. This more powerful force is mediated by particles called gluons. Gluons hold quarks together with a force like that of electric charge, but of far greater power.

The concept of a nuclear force was first quantitatively constructed in 1934, shortly after the discovery of the neutron revealed that atomic nuclei were made of protons and neutrons, held together by an attractive force. The nuclear force at that time was conceived to be transmitted by particles called mesons, which were predicted in theory before being discovered in 1947. In the 1970s, further understanding revealed these mesons to be combinations of quarks and gluons, transmitted between nucleons that themselves were made of quarks and gluons. This new model allowed the strong forces that held nucleons together, to be felt in neighboring nucleons, as residual strong forces.

The nuclear forces arising between nucleons are now seen to be analogous to the forces in chemistry between neutral atoms or molecules called London forces. Such forces between atoms are much weaker than the attractive electrical forces that hold the atoms themselves together (i.e., that bind electrons to the nucleus), and their range between atoms is shorter, because they arise from small separation of charges inside the neutral atom. Similarly, even though nucleons are made of quarks in combinations which cancel most gluon forces (they are "color neutral"), some combinations of quarks and gluons nevertheless leak away from nucleons, in the form of short-range nuclear force fields that extend from one nucleon to another nucleon that is close by. These nuclear forces are very weak compared to direct gluon forces ("color forces" or strong forces) inside nucleons, and the nuclear forces extend only over a few nuclear diameters, falling exponentially with distance. Nevertheless, they are strong enough to bind neutrons and protons over short distances, and overcome the electrical repulsion between protons in the nucleus.

Like London forces, nuclear forces also stop being attractive and become repulsive, when nucleons are brought too close together.

Read more about Nuclear Force:  History, Basic Properties of The Nuclear Force, Nucleon–nucleon Potentials

Other articles related to "nuclear force, nuclear, force, forces":

Nuclear Force - Nucleon–nucleon Potentials - Nuclear Potentials
... A successful way of describing nuclear interactions is to construct one potential for the whole nucleus instead of considering all its nucleon components ... Nuclear potentials can be local or global local potentials are limited to a narrow energy range and/or a narrow nuclear mass range, while global potentials, which have more parameters and ...
Alpha-particle - Sources of Alpha Particles - Alpha Decay - Mechanism of Production in Alpha Decay
... alpha decay are a balance between the electromagnetic force and nuclear force ... but which is kept in check by the nuclear force ... have enough energy to escape the potential well from the strong force inside the nucleus (this well involves escaping the strong force to go up one side of the well ...
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... An example that illustrates nuclear binding energy is carbon nucleus of 12C, which contains 6 protons and 6 neutrons ... protons are all positively charged and repel each other, but the nuclear force overcomes the repulsion and causes them to stick together ... The nuclear force is a close-range force, and virtually no effect of this force is observed outside the nucleus ...
Nuclear Binding Energy - Introduction - The Nuclear Force
... The force of electric attraction does not hold nuclei together, because all protons carry a positive charge and repel each other ... Thus, electric forces do not hold nuclei together, because they act in the opposite direction ... Therefore, another force, called the nuclear force (or residual strong force) holds the nucleons of nuclei together ...
Nuclear Forces
... The nuclear force (or nucleon–nucleon interaction or residual strong force) is the force between two or more nucleons ... total mass of the protons and neutrons which form them this is the energy used in nuclear power and nuclear weapons ... The force is powerfully attractive between nucleons at distances of about 1 femtometer (fm) between their centers, but rapidly decreases to insignificance at distances beyond about 2.5 ...

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