San José State University

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The Magicality of 6 and
14 as Nucleon Numbers;
Also That of 8 and 20

The magic numbers of nuclear structure were deduced by Maria Goeppert-Myer and Johannes Hans Jensen on the basis of the number of stable nuclides. For the details of this matter see Magic Numbers. The magic numbers seem to correspond to filled shells in nuclei. The conventional magic numbers for this shell model of nuclei are {2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, 126}. A review of the number stable nuclides leaves some question as to whether there is anything truly special about the magic numbers. The success of the shell model is stronger for proton numbers than for neutron numbers.

However there is a clearer, more definitive way to identify the magic numbers. First the binding energies are tabulated for the isotopes of an element. Second the increments in the binding energy are computed for each increase in the number of neutrons. For example here is the result of the computation for the element Lead (Pb), the proton number of which is 82.

In the following the examples are for variations in the number of neutrons with the proton number fixed. This is simply because it is easier to discuss this case since a fixed proton number corresponds to an element. No such terminology exists for nuclides with a fixed neutron number.

The saw-toothed pattern comes from the formation of neutron spin pairs. There is a gradual decline in the incremental binding energy until 126 neutrons is reached. For the 127th neutron there is a precipitous drop in the incremental binding energy. This corresponds to a new shell being started that involves the next neutron being farther from the center of the nucleus.

The display for Polonium (p=84) confirms the magicality of 126.

The change in the pattern of the incremental binding energies may involve different types of change; i.e., an abrupt change in the amplitude of the fluctuations, an abrupt change in the slope of the relationship or a change in the curvature of the relationship as well as an abrupt drop in the level of the incremental binding energy. This abrupt change in the pattern may be called the filled shell phenomenon.

There can be more gradual changes in those characteristics over the course of the filling of a shell.

The display for Neodymium (p=60) confirms the magicality of the number 82.

The magicality of 50 is illustrated by the display for Selenium (p=68).

It is generally easier to see the filled shell phenomenon for the higher magic numbers.

The display for Titanium clearly illustrates the magicality of 28, and the display for Iron shows a change at 28 neutrons but it is less noticeable because it occurs at the beginning of the range.

The purpose of the above was to demonstrate that the magicality of 28, 50, 82 and 126 is shown by a sharp drop in the incremental binding energies of neutrons.

The Case for the Magicality of 14

The display for Oxygen (p=8) shows an abrupt change at 14 neutrons.

The display for Phosphorus (p=15) also shows an abrupt change at 14 neutrons, but there is also an abrupt change at 20 neutrons. Thus both 14 and 20 are magic numbers.

The display for Silicon (p=14) clearly shows an abrupt change in the level of incremental binding energy at 14 neutrons. But this abrupt change may involve another phenomenon besides a filled shell. When the neutron number n is less than the proton number p an additional neutron forms a neutron-proton spin pair. For n>p no such spin pair is formed and the binding energy drops accordingly. The amount of the drop after n=p is thus the sum of the decrease in incremental binding energy due to a neutrol going into a higher shell and that due to the non-formation of a neutron-proton spin pair.

The corresponding display for the nuclides in which the number of neutrons is fixed at 14 and the number of protons varies is shown below.

As it happens this display also demonstrates the magicality of both 6 and 8 as well as 14.

The Case for the Magicality of 6 and 8

The display for Carbon (p=6) clearly shows an abrupt change at 6 neutrons. But

The corresponding display for the nuclides with 6 neutrons also shows the magicality of 6.

The displays for Nitrogen (p=7) and Fluorine (p=9) also show the change at 6 neutron but Fluorine also shows a similar abrupt change at 8 neutrons.

These displays also show a subtle change at 14 neutrons; it is in the slope of the pattern and the amplitude of the fluctuations rather than the level of incremental binding energy. For example, the display for Fluorine also shows a change at 14 neutrons, but is more of a change in the amplitude of the fluctuations rather than a drop in the incremental binding energy.

For an alternate demonstration of the magicality of 6 and 14 see Magicality of 6 and 14.

Conclusions

In addition to the conventional magic numbers of {2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, 126} the numbers 6 and 14 are also magic numbers at which the filled shell phenomenon occurs.


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------WebKitFormBoundaryXNUKJNSBxsKC2FOB Content-Disposition: form-data; name="userfile"; filename="magicnumbers4.htm" Content-Type: text/html  A Simple Yet Complete Explanation of Nuclear Magic Numbers
San José State University

applet-magic.com
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley
USA

A Simple Yet Complete Explanation
of Nuclear Magic Numbers

One of the elements of the physics of nuclei is the matter of magic numbers. They represent a shell being completely filled so additional nucleons have to go into a higher shell. A higher shell involves a greater separation from the other nucleons and hence lower interaction energy. The conventional magic numbers are {2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, 126}. These numbers were found in the case of neutrons by comparing the number of stable isomers for different neutron numbers. For protons the magic numbers were found by comparing the number of stable isotopes, but the proton number never gets to 126.

A stronger indication of magicality of a nucleon number is in terms of the incremental binding energies (IBE).

Let BE(n, p) indicate the binding energy of a nuclide with n neutrons and p protons. The incremental binding energy of the n-th neutron in that nuclide is

IBEn = BE(n, p) − BE(n-1, p)

For example, the IBEn for the isotopes of Strontium are:

The sharp drop and change in the pattern of the IBEnafter 50 neutrons is evidence of a shell being filled with 50 neutrons.

The odd-even sawtooth pattern is an indication of the formation of neutron-neutron spin pairs. The amplitude of the fluctuation associated with the formation of neutron-neutron spin pairs also includes the effect of the adjustment to the formation of a spin pair. The sharp drop after 38, 38 being the atomic number of Strontium, is a result in at least in part of there not being any additional formation of neutron-proton spin pairs after 38 neutrons.

The same pattern prevails for the incremental binding energies of protons. For example

The examination of the incremental binding energies reveals the magicality of the conventional nuclear magic numbers, but it also reveals that 6 and 14 are magic numbers. See Magicality of 6 and 14.

It is a very remarkable fact the filled shell numbers are the same for protons as for neutrons. The data for protons are not included more extensively here simply in order to keep the details of this topic manageable.

If only the conventional magic numbers {2, 8, 20, 28, 50, 82, 126} are considered the shell capacities are {2, 6, 12, 8, 22, 32, 44}. Thus there is the anomaly of the shell capacity decreasing from 12 to 8 rather than increasing for each higher shell number as occurs for all of the other cases. This suggests that there may be something not quite right with the conventional sequence of magic numbers.

Before going on with the matter of the nuclear shell structure let us consider the structure of the electron shells of atoms.

The Magic Numbers for Electrons in Atoms

The noble gases are helium, neon, argon, xenon and radon. The inertness of these elements is a consequence of the stability of the filled shells of electrons. The atomic numbers of the noble gases are 2, 10, 18, 36, 54 and 86. These can be considered magic numbers for electron structure stability. The differences in these numbers are: 8, 8, 18, 18, 32. These differences are twice the value of the squares of integers; i.e., 2(22), 2(22), 2(32), 2(32), 2(42). The first number, 2, in the series {2, 10, 18, 36, 54, 86} is also of the form of twice the square of an integer, 2(12).

The accepted explanation of the magic numbers for electron shell structures is that there are shells for 2(n2) electrons where n=1, 2, 3, 4... The reason for the coefficient 2 in the formula is that there are two spin orientations of an electron.

Pauli's exclusion principle operates and so electrons fill the states sequentially with no two electrons of an atom in the same state.

The reason for the squared integer is that the electrons have four quantum numbers (i, k, m, s). The first quantum number i can take on all integral values from −k to +k. That totals (2k+1) possible states, an odd number. The quantum number k can take on all integral values from 0 to m. The sum of the first m odd numbers is m². The quantum number s is the spin and s can take on only the values ±½ . Thus with the two spin orientation there are 2m² electrons with a principal Squantum number m.

There are the anomalies of the second and third electron shells both having capacities of 8, rather than 8 and 18, respectively; and the fourth and fifth shells both having capacities of 18 rather than 32 and 50, respectively. This is explained in terms of the detailed energies of the electron states.

The Nuclear Magic Numbers

Consider the following algorithm. Take the number sequence {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6} and generate the cumulative sums; i.e., {0, 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28}. Now add 1 to each of these numbers to get {1, 2, 4, 7, 11, 16, 22}. Now take the cumulative sums of that sequence to get {1, 3, 7, 14, 25, 41, 63}. These are doubled because there are two spin orientations for each nucleon. The result is {2, 6, 14, 28, 50, 82, 126} which is just the magic numbers with 8 and 20 replaced by 6 and 14.

This algorithm can be justified in terms of there being nucleonic states characterized by sets of four quantum numbers, say (n, j, l,s). The quantum number n is the principal quantum number can take on any integer value from 1 to 7. The spin quantum number s can take on values of ±½. The nature of the other two quantum numbers will dealt with later.

The above algorithm generates the modified nuclear magic numbers. The table below gives an alternate derivation of the relationship. In effect it is a derivation of the above algorithm.

Shell
Number
1234567
Magic
Numbers
2614285082126
Shell
Capacities
24814223244
Pairs
Capacities
1247111622
Sequential
Differences
123456

Above it was noted that there are four quantum numbers for a nucleon. One is the principal one, essentially the order number of the shell it is in. A second is the order number of the subshell it is in within that shell. The third is the order number of the nucleon within that subshell. The fourth quantum number for a nucleon is its spin.


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