Why higher the binding energy per nucleon, more stable the nucleus is.?


Nuclear binding energy is the minimum energy that would be required to disassemble the nucleus of an atom into its component parts


The mass of an atomic nucleus is less than the sum of the individual masses of the free constituent protons and neutrons, according to Einstein's equation E=mc2. This 'missing mass' is known as the mass defect, and represents the energy that was released when the nucleus was formed.


In the periodic table of elements, the series of light elements from hydrogen up to sodium is observed to exhibit generally increasing binding energy per nucleon as the atomic mass increases. This increase is generated by increasing forces per nucleon in the nucleus, as each additional nucleon is attracted by other nearby nucleons, and thus more tightly bound to the whole.


The region of increasing binding energy is followed by a region of relative stability (saturation) in the sequence from magnesium through xenon. In this region, the nucleus has become large enough that nuclear forces no longer completely extend efficiently across its width. Attractive nuclear forces in this region, as atomic mass increases, are nearly balanced by repellent electromagnetic forces between protons, as the atomic number increases.

Finally, in elements heavier than xenon, there is a decrease in binding energy per nucleon as atomic number increases. In this region of nuclear size, electromagnetic repulsive forces are beginning to overcome the strong nuclear force attraction.

You ask:

Binding energy per nucleon is a measure of how stable the nucleaus is. is this true.?

From the above quoted paragraphs it should be clear that it depends on the position of the nucleus in the periodic table, the number of nucleons and the number of charged to neutral. So the binding energy per nucleon is related to the stability but is not a measure of it.

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Updated on July 26, 2022


  • user31058
    user31058 5 months

    Binding energy per nucleon is a measure of how stable the nucleaus is. is this true.? I looked at few answers on this site but there is no clear agreement on it.

    • Jon Custer
      Jon Custer over 1 year
      If every nucleon is happier, the whole nucleus is happier...
    • my2cts
      my2cts over 1 year
      No clear agreement? Please give some links so we can purge this site.
  • Gert
    Gert over 1 year
    It is because it is the measure of how much mass loss in form of energy takes place from the parent nucleus on decay. No, that's incorrect.
  • ModestPelican
    ModestPelican over 1 year
    No, It is Correct