The process of nuclear fusion is as opposed to that of nuclear fission. By considering the following scenario, we can distinguish between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
When two highly active atoms collide and fuse to form a larger atom due to the strong inter-atomic force of attraction, this is referred to as nuclear fusion. Similarly, when a source of energy (light) splits into quanta or photons, this is referred to as the nuclear fission process.
(Image will be uploaded soon)
What is the Distinction between Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion?
The term "fission" clearly denotes the splitting or breaking of something into smaller pieces. In this context, nuclear fission refers to the breaking or splitting of a large or parent atom into smaller ones, or two or more daughter atoms. These small atoms are technically light in their weight.
When the nuclear fission process breaks, a large amount of energy is released, indicating that the nuclear fission process is exothermic.
The term "fuse" refers to the joining of two or more objects. The term 'nuclear fusion' refers to the process by which two or more atoms combine to form a larger atom. The nuclear fusion process is endothermic because it requires absorbing energy to fuse two atoms. Consider two train bogies joining or fusing via a magnet.
(Image will be uploaded soon)
The Distinction between Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion in Tabular form:
What are Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion in Physics?
Atoms are held together by two fundamental natural forces: weak and strong nuclear bonds. The binding energy is the total amount of energy held within the atomic bonds. The greater the amount of binding energy held within the bonds, the more stable the atom. Furthermore, atoms attempt to become more stable by increasing their binding energy.
Nuclear Fusion versus Nuclear Fission
Nuclear fission and nuclear fusion reactions are both chain reactions, which means that one nuclear event causes at least one other nuclear reaction, and the chain reaction typically continues. As a result, an ever-increasing cycle of reactions emerges, which can quickly become uncontrollable. A nuclear reaction of this type can have multiple splits of heavy isotopes such as Uranium 235U or the combining of light isotopes such as 2H and 3H).
Only when neutrons break unstable isotopes do fission chain reactions occur. This type of impact and scatter process is difficult to control/bear, but the initial conditions are relatively easy to achieve.
The fusion chain reaction, on the other hand, develops or occurs only under extreme pressure and temperature conditions that are kept stable by the energy released during the fusion process. We also discovered that the initial conditions and stabilising fields are extremely difficult to implement with our current technology, implying that Physics requires extremely advanced technology to carry out this extreme process.
Use of Nuclear Fission and Nuclear Fusion
It is well known that the basic unit of matter such as atoms themselves consist of electrons, protons and neutrons. Neutrons and protons are present at the centre of the atom and the electrons are arranged around it in their valence shells. The number of neutrons and protons in an atom decides the chemical characteristic of the atom or the properties of the element they are identified with.
All these atomic particles are held with a strong nuclear force that acts at a very close distance. When electrons change the valence shells then the change in the energy contained in the atom is observed. When an electron transfers from outer valence shells to inner valence shells then it does so by absorption of energy. Inversely, when an electron transfers from the inner shell to the outer shell then it does so by releasing energy. By general concept, the energy released is very vast compared to other forms of energy that we use in every other activity. After the discovery of this fact, many scientists have developed the method of extracting and utilising this immense amount of energy obtained from this method.
Isotopes of an element are a form of that atom having the same number of neutrons but different numbers of protons and electrons. In these types of atoms, it is relatively easy to detach the electrons and protons along with the energy holding them. This method of obtaining energy by splitting an atom into two parts is known as Nuclear fission. Contrastingly it is when two atoms merge giving release to energy. This method of obtaining energy is called nuclear fusion. This method of releasing energy occurs in the Sun and other stars. In these luminous celestial bodies, two hydrogen atoms merge to form a helium atom.