Batchelder, Jon C. Joint Institute for Heavy Ion Research/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
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The existence of nuclear isomers. A nuclear isomer is an excited metastable energy state with a half-life significantly longer than most other excited energy levels. A metastable state of a given isomer is designated with an m next to the mass number of the isotope, or in the case of an isotope with more than one isomer, m1, m2, and so forth. (For example, silver-116 has two metastable states in addition to the ground state, so the three states would be written as 116Ag, 116m1Ag, and 116m2Ag.) All excited nuclear states have quantized energy (E), spin (J), parity (π), and a half-life associated with that level. The spin and parity of a given state are determined by the orbitals that the valence protons and neutrons occupy, and the interactions between the particles. The half-lives of most (nonisomer) states are in the range of tens of picoseconds (10−11 s) or less. See also: Excited state; Parity (quantum mechanics); Spin (quantum mechanics)
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