The nuclear fusion reaction of two helium-4 nuclei produces beryllium-8, which is highly unstable and decays back into smaller nuclei with a half-life of 8.19x10-17 s unless a third alpha particle fuses with the beryllium-8 nucleus within that time to produce an excited resonance state of carbon-12 known as the Hoyle resonant...
This is the most common fusion process in the sun and other stars. It releases energy and creates light atoms that are important for life as we know it. On earth, nuclear fusion occurs in the cores of some planets (such as our planet) and in the hearts of some stars. However, only in the sun does it occur at a high enough temperature and pressure to be useful for generating power-electricity by means of the photoelectric effect or heat by means of the photovoltaic effect.
On the average, the sun converts about 1022 joules into energy every second. This amount would completely destroy any substance it came in contact with, but it is so great that it must be contained within a stable star body. The core of the sun is approximately 100 million kilometers across, which is too small to allow any significant energy loss through radiation. Thus, the core of the sun is expected to continue to expand until it becomes like the rest of the star; however, due to the increasing density of its material, it may eventually collapse under its own weight to form a supernova explosion.
Carbon twelve would become an unstable atom if it underwent alpha decay, whereas beryllium-8 is unstable since it would rather be two helium-4's. Helium is the most common element in the universe and the lightest stable element under normal conditions. However, if helium atoms were to absorb another helium atom they could form a stable carbon molecule.
Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen and the most abundant element inside planets such as Earth. Beryllium is a metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust and is used in industrial applications. It is also found in some sea creatures and birds feathers. However, most of the world-wide supply is produced by leaching minerals from the BEYAL silver mine in Canada at which point it becomes beryllium-8 with one less electron than helium-4.
Beryllium-8 has a half-life of 1.5 x 10^15 years, which means that approximately 99.7% of all beryllium-8 will eventually decay into helium-4 and positron. Positrons are the antiparticles of electrons and are formed when photons (which are particles of light) collide with atoms.
Fusion of nuclei occurs when two atomic nuclei merge to form a single nucleus. The fusion of nuclei is one of the three nuclear reactions by which energy is released (along with fission and radioactive decay). It plays an important role in many processes in nature and technology. The fusion reaction that takes place inside stars is called "nucleosynthesis" and is responsible for forming elements beyond hydrogen and helium on the surface of a star. In astrophysics, the study of objects such as galaxies that contain many stellar systems, the observation that some of these galaxies contain old, red stars while others contain no such stars even though they are of comparable size suggests that they too may contain stellar systems that have fused their nuclei or been completely consumed by fusion (see elliptical galaxy). On Earth, fusion reactions take place in the cores of some planets (such as our own) and in the centers of some stars that have cooled down enough to form a neutron star or black hole. In physics laboratories, fusion reactions are used to generate energy via the thermonuclear reaction.
In chemistry, fusion refers to the joining of molecules into larger ones.
Beryllium's nucleus has four protons. Its atomic number is 4 and its mass is 9.
Beryllium was first isolated from mineral springs in Germany in 1828. It is a hard, silver-white metal that is malleable and ductile. Pure beryllium is very rare but it is found in nature as a component of some minerals. Beryllium is used in high-tech applications because of its light weight and resistance to corrosion by acids and other chemicals.
Beryllium has many uses in technology. It is used in lightweight aircraft construction because of its low density and resistance to corrosion. The heat capacity of beryllium is much lower than that of steel or aluminum so it can be used in devices that need to operate at high temperatures such as nuclear reactors.
Beryllium is also used in radiation shielding materials because it does not affect the performance of magnets when exposed to magnetic fields. This property makes beryllium useful for protecting equipment from damage by large magnetic pulses from electrical power lines or underground mining operations.
Beryllium-7 atoms decay by absorbing electrons from their environment. The electron is absorbed into the nucleus, where it combines with a proton to generate a neutron, causing the atom to be transformed into a new element, lithium-7. The average lifetime of a beryllium-7 atom is 1.5 x 10^-20 seconds.
This process will continue until there are no more electrons to absorb, at which point the beryllium-7 atom will disintegrate with a maximum half life of 1.3 x 10^8 years.
Decay products include alpha particles and lithium isotopes (including helium-4). Alpha particles are emitted when radioactive elements change shape or form otherwise unstable molecules of themselves. This occurs when an atom loses one or more neutrons, forming a compound with an atomic mass less than that of its original element. The extra energy released during this transition causes alpha particles to be emitted. Radioactive elements can also emit gamma rays during this process. Lithium-6 has a half life of about 11 million years, while lithium-7 has a half life of 6,000 years.
Beryllium is used in equipment that contacts water such as boats and aircraft because any material that can release electrons will reduce its activity. If beryllium-7 releases its last electron, then it becomes a stable element, lithium.