Triton (nuclear physics)
Hamilton, Joseph H. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.
- Additional Readings
The nucleus of 31H2 (tritium); it is a radioactive nuclide with one proton and two neutrons belonging to hydrogen. The triton is produced in nuclear reactors by neutron absorption in deuterium (21H1 + 10n1 → 31H2 + γ), and in hydrogen fusion bombs via the reaction 1n + 63Li → 31H2 + 42He2 + 4.9 MeV. It decays by β− emission to 32He1 with a half-life of 12.32 years. The spin of the triton is 1/2, its magnetic moment is 2.978962 nuclear magnetons, and its mass is 3.015501 atomic mass units. Much of the interest in producing 31H2 arises from the fact that the fusion reaction 31H2 + 21H1 → 42He + n releases about 18 MeV of energy and has a large production cross section at lower temperatures. Tritons are also used as projectiles in nuclear bombardment experiments. Measurements of the beta spectrum of the triton have been used to set very low limits for the mass of the electron neutrino. See also: Neutrino; Nuclear fusion; Nuclear reaction; Radioactivity; Tritium
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