Nuclide Stability

Stable and Unstable Nuclides

Unstable nuclides under go radioactive decay or fission, and they are often called radioactive nuclides. Some unstable nuclides occur naturally, and many have been made artificially. The process of making (synthesizing) them involve nuclear reactions.

On this page, we discuss the stability of nuclides in terms of their masses. The discussion applies to both stable and unstable nuclides.

Masses of Nuclides

Energy drives all changes including nuclear reactions and radioactive decays. Energy and mass are equivalent. Thus, the masses of nuclides are related to their stability and radioactivity.

In order to discuss the instability of nuclides, we look at their masses. There are several ways to look at their masses. Masses of nuclides can be compared to either their components (hydrogen atoms and neutrons) or some other standard such as 12C.

The following are some of the ways we look at the masses of nuclides.

Internet Resource

Masses of nuclides
Binding energy
Nuclear structure - binding energy
Subatomic physics detectors