New Isotope of Magnesium

New Isotope of Magnesium

Author: ChemistryViews

Kyle Brown, Michigan State University (MSU), East Lansing, USA, and colleagues have discovered a new magnesium isotope, magnesium-18. With 12 protons and only six neutrons in its nucleus, it is the lightest isotope of magnesium ever found. It is radically unstable and very short-lived, with a half-life of less than 10–21 seconds.

The researchers accelerated a beam of magnesium-24 nuclei (the most common stable magnesium isotope) to about half the speed of light at MSU’s National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, a circular ultrahigh-energy particle accelerator. Then they fired the high-speed beam of magnesium nuclei at a target made of beryllium. The collision yielded lighter magnesium isotopes, including the unstable isotope magnesium-20, which contains only eight neutrons per nucleus and decays radioactively in a few tenths of a second. The researchers fired the magnesium-20 nuclei at about half the speed of light at a beryllium target. One of the products of the resulting collision was magnesium-18.

The isotope is so short-lived that it decays inside the beryllium target. Therefore, the researchers deduced its presence from the telltale products of its decay: stray protons and the isotopes neon-16 and oxygen-14.





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