UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
What are the differences in the process of fission and fusion?
Question Date: 2007-02-23
Answer 1:

Fission processes take nuclei (for example, Uranium) and split them. In the process of splitting the atom, a huge amount of energy is released. However, the downside is that the smaller atoms that are formed by the process are typically radioactive. Nuclear reactors can utilize the fission process to generate electricity, and nuclear bombs are simply an uncontrolled fission process driven by a chain reaction.

Fusion processes, on the other hand, take smaller nuclei and combine them together to make a larger nucleus. The fusion process also releases a lot of energy. However, the difficulty with this process is getting two nuclei (both positively charged) to collide and combine. Controlling the fusion process to generate electricity has not yet been demonstrated, although an uncontrolled process can be used in weapons. Also, the appropriate conditions for fusion also exist in extreme conditions such as in stars. For example, the sun's nuclear process is a fusion process.


Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2017 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use