The study of particle and nuclear physics impinges on our everyday lives in such a way that both aspects of physics cannot be underestimated. It is therefore appropriate to discuss some technological applications of these two branches of physics. This paper established that nuclear energy originating from both fusion and ﬁssion, nuclear medicine and radiation sterilization are in fact the three main merits obtained from nuclear and particle physics with the advancement in technology. Also,concepts and mode of operation of nuclear reactors based on nuclear ﬁssion were presented.
Keywords: Nuclear ﬁssion, Nuclear energy, Nuclear medicine, Radiation Sterilization
Generally, nuclear physics deals with the branch of physics that studies the concepts of atomic nuclei, their constituents as well as interactions. Fundamental discoveries in nuclear physics have led to several applications in many ﬁelds. Nuclear physics is applicable in several ﬁelds such as nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear medicine, magnetic resonance imaging, radiocarbon dating and many others. Particle physics on the other hand is the study of fundamental particles and their interactions. Concepts of fundamental particles and their interactions is encoded in what is term as the Standard Model of Elementary Particle Physics. According to the Standard Model of elementary particles, elementary particles can be grouped into two forms namely, the fermions and bosons. The fermions are the spin half particles which obeys the Pauli’s exclusion principle whereas the bosons are spin one particles which obeys the Bose-Einstein Statistics. The four main fundamental interactions in nature are strong force, weak force, electromagnetic force and force of gravity. The force of gravity is however is not incorporated in describing particle interactions because on the scale of experiments in particle physics, gravity is by far the weakest among all the other fundamental interactions, although it is dominant on the scale of the universe In fact, according to , particle physics originated from nuclear physics and the two ﬁelds cannot be underestimated. This implies that the studies of particle and nuclear physics must go together, hence are typically learned and taught in close association. With the recent advancement in technological tools, both particle and nuclear physics have proven to play a vital role thereby enriching the lives of mankind in our modern society. This paper therefore present a review of the technological applications of both particle and nuclear physics in the next section is a comprehensive literature review on the areas where nuclear physics and particle physics can be applied
There are several theoretical and experimental carried out by diﬀerent authors to study the applications of both nuclear and particle physics in several contexts. First, a research study by  reviewed the applications of inversion scattering in nuclear physics where they emphasized on the various ways in which inversion scattering could be used to understand nuclear interactions. A conceptual applications of neural networks in hadron physics is discussed in  where the Bayesian approach for the feed-forward neural networks was reviewed. Also,  discusses Monte Carlo simulations calculations in Nuclear medicine where concepts from both nuclear and particle physics are utilized for the purpose of diagnostic imaging. Some physical characteristics of radionuclides of interest in nuclear medicine have been discussed in . While advanced theoretical principles applied in nuclear medicine radiation dosimetry has been reviewed by ,  also presents therapeutic applications of Monte Carlo simulations in nuclear medicine. In , concepts of medical imaging techniques for radiation dosimetry where for instance the determination of radioactivity in both space and time was reviewed. Furthermore, measurements and analysis of production cross sections for nuclear γ-ray over the incident energy range E=30-66 MeV was reviewed in  where experimental data for several new γ-ray lines was also reported and discussed. High-Precision Half-Life Measurements for the Superallowed Fermi β+ Emitters 14O and 18Ne was also reviewed by . Several other applications of nuclear and particle physics can be found in [10, 11]
Globally, nuclear fuel, medicine, and sterilisation are the principal applications of nuclear and particle physics in terms of economic and social beneﬁts. Nuclear power includes the use of nuclear reactions that release nuclear energy for heat generation, which is the most commonly used in steam turbines to generate electricity at a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power can be produced by reactions to nuclear ﬁssion, nuclear decay, and nuclear fusion. According to , from about 440 power plants, nuclear energy now generates about 10 per cent of the world’s electricity. In comparison, nuclear medicine helps us in the treatment and diagnosis of illness in human bodies. Also, radiation sterilisation helps to destroy micro-organisms in our food. Areas where nuclear and particle physics play critical roles in nuclear medicine include magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography, proton emission tomography and X-ray radiography. Figure 1 below shows the 2019 world electricity levels displayed on the left while a magnetic resonance imaging scan device is shown on the right.
The next section of this paper focuses on nuclear power reactors since nuclear power plants make use of nuclear ﬁssion, the process of splitting an atom in two.
Nuclear reactors work on the nuclear ﬁssion principle, the process in which a large atomic nucleus splits into two smaller parts. The nuclear fragments emit neutrons, other subatomic particles, and photons in very excited states. Then, the emitted neutrons that cause new ﬁssions, which in eﬀect yields more neutrons. Such a continuous self-sustaining sequence of ﬁssions reﬂects a reaction to the ﬁssion chain. This method produces a signiﬁcant amount of energy and this energy is the foundation of nuclear power systems. Many distinct forms of reactor are available. This paper brieﬂy addresses the thermal reactor, which uses uranium as the fuel and low-energy neutrons for forming a chain reaction. A nuclear ﬁssion cycle of Uranium 235 is to the left of Figure2 and a schematic diagram of the key elements of a conventional thermal reactor to the right. A thermal reactor is made up of ﬁssile material (fuel elements), rods of control and moderator. Uranium is the most widely used fuel, and many thermal reactors use natural uranium, although it has just 0.7% of 235U.. A 2 MeV primary ﬁssion neutron, however, has very little chance of causing ﬁssion in a 238U. nucleus. Instead, it is much more likely to propagate inelastically, leaving the nucleus in an excited state, and after a few such collisions, the neutron energy will be below the ﬁssion induction level of 1.2 MeV in 238U.. The centre of a reactor is the main unit in a nuclear reactor and is where all the heat energy is produced. This is done by a mechanism known as the nuclear ﬁssion. In this case Uranium-235 is the ﬁssile material (i.e. the fuel for the process). The heart of the reactor consists of three parts (i)fuel rods-where the ﬁssile material is stored,(ii) control rods-made of boron, these control the reaction rate and (iii) the moderator-slowing down the neutrons created during the reaction.
Also known as thermonuclear reactors are fusion reactors which generate electrical power from the energy released in a nuclear fusion reaction. The use of nuclear fusion reactions for electricity generation appears to be very theoretical, according to. The method of producing energy in a fusion reactor requires the joining of two light atoms together. As two nuclei combine, a small amount of mass is converted into an energy of large amount. In reality, Stars, including the Sun, are plasma’s that produce energy by fusion reactions through a process called stellar fusion. Stellar fusion is the mechanism by which elements within stars are formed by mixing the protons and neutrons from the nuclei of lighter elements together. Figure 3 below shows the base structure for nuclear fusion on the left and a basic thermonuclear fusion reactor on the right side.
The primary goal of this paper was to review the technological applications of nuclear and particle physics. This paper seeks to present a brief literature review on areas where nuclear and particle physics can be theoretically and experimentally applied, then presents three main uses of nuclear and particle physics at the economical level. In summary, the ﬁndings from this paper reveal that nuclear energy, nuclear medicine and radiation sterilization are the three main technologically advanced implications both nuclear and particle physics have on natural beings. In conclusion, the study of particle and nuclear physics lead to advance implementation of technological tools for the beneﬁts of mankind.