AQA GCSE Physics

Revision Notes

4.4.3 Nuclear Fission Diagrams

Nuclear Fission Diagrams

  • The processes involved in nuclear fission can be shown in different ways as diagrams
  • These diagrams show how the reaction happens in a way that is easy to understand

Nuclear fission, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

A neutron is fired into the target nucleus, causing it to split

  • The diagram above is useful because it shows clearly the different parts of the fission reaction

Worked Example

The diagram shows the nuclear fission process for an atom of uranium-235.

Chain Reaction Worked Example, downloadable IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

Complete the diagram to show how the fission process starts a chain reaction.

chain-reaction, IGCSE & GCSE Physics revision notes

Step 1: Draw the neutrons to show that they hit other U-235 nuclei

    • It is the neutrons hitting the uranium-235 nuclei which causes the fission reactions
    • The daughter nuclei do not need to be shown, only the neutrons and uranium-235 nuclei

Step 2: Draw the splitting of the U-235 nuclei to show they produce two or more neutrons

    • The number of neutrons increases with each fission reaction
    • Each reaction requires one neutron but releases two
    • More reactions happen as the number of neutrons increases

Exam Tip

You need to be able to draw and interpret different diagrams of nuclear fission and chain reactions. Generally, things move to the right as time goes on in these diagrams, but it is important to read all the information carefully on questions like this.

If you have to draw a diagram in an exam remember that the clarity of the information is important, not how pretty it looks!

Author: Katie

Katie has always been passionate about the sciences, and completed a degree in Astrophysics at Sheffield University. She decided that she wanted to inspire other young people, so moved to Bristol to complete a PGCE in Secondary Science. She particularly loves creating fun and absorbing materials to help students achieve their exam potential.
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