NCERT Class 12 Physics Nuclei

Read and download NCERT Class 12 Physics Nuclei chapter in NCERT book for Class 12 Physics. You can download latest NCERT eBooks for 2021 chapter wise in PDF format free from This Physics textbook for Class 12 is designed by NCERT and is very useful for students. Please also refer to the NCERT solutions for Class 12 Physics to understand the answers of the exercise questions given at the end of this chapter

Nuclei Class 12 Physics NCERT

Class 12 Physics students should refer to the following NCERT Book chapter Nuclei in standard 12. This NCERT Book for Grade 12 Physics will be very useful for exams and help you to score good marks

Nuclei NCERT Class 12


Chapter Thirteen



In the previous chapter, we have learnt that in every atom, the positive charge and mass are densely concentrated at the centre of the atom forming its nucleus. The overall dimensions of a nucleus are much smaller than those of an atom. Experiments on scattering of α-particles demonstrated that the radius of a nucleus was smaller than the radius of an atom by a factor of about 104. This means the volume of a nucleus is about 10–12 times the volume of the atom. In other words, an atom is almost empty. If an atom is enlarged to the size of a classroom, the nucleus would be of the size of pinhead. Nevertheless, the nucleus contains most (more than 99.9%) of the mass of an atom.

Does the nucleus have a structure, just as the atom does? If so, what are the constituents of the nucleus? How are these held together? In this chapter, we shall look for answers to such questions. We shall discuss various properties of nuclei such as their size, mass and stability, and also associated nuclear phenomena such as radioactivity, fission and fusion. 13.2 ATOMIC MASSES AND COMPOSITION OF NUCLEUS The mass of an atom is very small, compared to a kilogram; for example, the mass of a carbon atom, 12C, is 1.992647 × 10–26 kg. Kilogram is not a very convenient unit to measure such small quantities. Therefore, a The atomic masses of various elements expressed in atomic mass unit (u) are close to being integral multiples of the mass of a hydrogen atom. There are, however, many striking exceptions to this rule. For example, the atomic mass of chlorine atom is 35.46 u.

Accurate measurement of atomic masses is carried out with a mass spectrometer, The measurement of atomic masses reveals the existence of different types of atoms of the same element, which exhibit the same chemical properties, but differ in mass. Such atomic species of the same element differing in mass are called isotopes. (In Greek, isotope means the same place, i.e. they occur in the same place in the periodic table of elements.) It was found that practically every element consists of a mixture of several isotopes. The relative abundance of different isotopes differs from element to element. Chlorine, for example, has two isotopes having masses 34.98 u and 36.98 u, which are nearly integral multiples of the mass of a hydrogen atom. The relative abundances of these isotopes are 75.4 and 24.6 per cent, respectively. Thus, the average mass of a chlorine atom is obtained by the weighted average of the masses of the two isotopes, which works out to be Discovery of Neutron

Since the nuclei of deuterium and tritium are isotopes of hydrogen, they must contain only one proton each. But the masses of the nuclei of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium are in the ratio of 1:2:3. Therefore, the nuclei of deuterium and tritium must contain, in addition to a proton, some neutral matter. The amount of neutral matter present in the nuclei of these isotopes, expressed in units of mass of a proton, is approximately equal to one and two, respectively. This fact indicates that the nuclei of atoms contain, in addition to protons, neutral matter in multiples of a basic unit. This hypothesis was verified in 1932 by James Chadwick who observed emission of neutral radiation when beryllium nuclei were bombarded with alpha-particles. (α-particles are helium nuclei, to be discussed in a later section). It was found that this neutral radiation could knock out protons from light nuclei such as those of helium, carbon and nitrogen. The only neutral radiation known at that time was photons (electromagnetic radiation). Application of the principles of conservation of energy and momentum showed that if the neutral radiation consisted of photons, the energy of photons would have to be much higher than is available from the bombardment of beryllium nuclei with α-particles. The clue to this puzzle, which Chadwick satisfactorily solved, was to assume that the neutral radiation consists of a new type of neutral particles called neutrons. From conservation of energy and momentum, he was able to determine the mass of new particle ‘as very nearly the same as mass of proton’.

Also, download electrostatics questions in PDF format. 


As we have seen in Chapter 12, Rutherford was the pioneer who postulated and established the existence of the atomic nucleus. At Rutherford’s suggestion, Geiger and Marsden performed their classic experiment: on the scattering of α-particles from thin gold foils. Their experiments revealed that the distance of closest approach to a gold nucleus of an α-particle of kinetic energy 5.5 MeV is about 4.0 × 10–14 m. The scattering of α-particle by the gold sheet could be understood by Rutherford by assuming that the coulomb repulsive force was solely responsible for scattering. Since the positive charge is confined to the nucleus, the actual size of the nucleus has to be less than 4.0 × 10–14 m. If we use α-particles of higher energies than 5.5 MeV, the distance of closest approach to the gold nucleus will be smaller and at some pointthe scattering will begin to be affected by the short range nuclear forces, and differ from Rutherford’s calculations. Rutherford’s calculations are based on pure coulomb repulsion between the positive charges of the α- particle and the gold nucleus. From the distance at which deviations set in, nuclear sizes can be inferred.

By performing scattering experiments in which fast electrons, instead of α-particles, are projectiles that bombard targets made up of various elements, the sizes of nuclei of various elements have been accurately measured. It has been found that a nucleus of mass number A has a radius R = R0 A1/3 (13.5) where R0 = 1.2 × 10–15 m. This means the volume of the nucleus, which is proportional to R3 is proportional to A. Thus the density of nucleus is a constant, independent of A, for all nuclei. Different nuclei are likes drop of liquid of constant density. The density of nuclear matter is approximately 2.3 × 1017 kg m–3. This density is very large compared to ordinary matter, say water, which is 103 kg m–3. This is understandable, as we have already seen that most of the atom is empty. Ordinary matter consisting of atoms has a large amount of empty space.

13.4.1 Mass – Energy

Einstein showed from his theory of special relativity that it is necessary to treat mass as another form of energy. Before the advent of this theory of special relativity it was presumed that mass and energy were conserved separately in a reaction. However, Einstein showed that mass is another form of energy and one can convert mass-energy into other forms of energy, say kinetic energy and vice-versa. Einstein gave the famous mass-energy equivalence relation E = mc2 (13.6) Here the energy equivalent of mass m is related by the above equation and c is the velocity of light in vacuum and is approximately equal to 3×108 m s–1.

13.4.2 Nuclear binding energy

In Section 13.2 we have seen that the nucleus is made up of neutrons and protons. Therefore it may be expected that the mass of the nucleus is equal to the total mass of its individual protons and neutrons. 

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Chapter 1 Electric Charges and Fields
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Chapter 2 Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance
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Chapter 3 Current Electricity
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Chapter 4 Moving Charges and Magnetism
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Chapter 5 Magnetism and Matter
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Chapter 6 Electromagnetic Induction
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Chapter 7 Alternating Current
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Chapter 8 Electromagnetic Waves
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Chapter 9 Ray Optics and Optical Instruments
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Chapter 10 Wave Optics
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Chapter 11 Dual Nature of Radiation and Matter
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Chapter 12 Atoms
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Chapter 13 Nuclei
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Chapter 14 Semiconductor Electronics Materials Devices and Simple Circuits
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Chapter 15 Communication Systems
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Part I Answers and Solutions
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Part II Answers and Solutions
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Part II Appendix
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Part II BiblioGraphy
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