Table of nuclides

A chart of nuclides. Above, cut into three parts for better presentation; below, combined.

A table of nuclides or chart of nuclides is a two-dimensional graph in which one axis represents the number of neutrons and the other represents the number of protons in an atomic nucleus. Each point plotted on the graph thus represents the nuclide of a real or hypothetical chemical element. This system of ordering nuclides can offer a greater insight into the characteristics of isotopes than the better-known periodic table, which shows only elements instead of each of their isotopes.

Description and utility

A chart or table of nuclides is a simple map to the nuclear, or radioactive, behaviour of nuclides, as it distinguishes the isotopes of an element. It contrasts with a periodic table, which only maps their chemical behavior, since isotopes (nuclides which are variants of the same element) do not differ chemically to any significant degree, with the exception of hydrogen. Nuclide charts organize nuclides along the X axis by their numbers of neutrons and along the Y axis by their numbers of protons, out to the limits of the neutron and proton drip lines. This representation was first published by Kurt Guggenheimer in 1934[1] and expanded by Giorgio Fea in 1935,[2] Emilio Segrè in 1945 or G. Seaborg. In 1958, Walter Seelmann-Eggebert and Gerda Pfennig published the first edition of the Karlsruhe Nuclide Chart. Its 7th edition was made available in 2006. Today, there are several nuclide charts, four of which have a wide distribution: the Karlsruhe Nuclide Chart, the Strasbourg Universal Nuclide Chart, the Chart of the Nuclides from the JAEA and the Nuclide Chart from Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.[3] It has become a basic tool of the nuclear community.

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