Long-lived fissionable isotopes other than uranium-235 and plutonium-239 are examined for possible use in fission weapons. A few other isotopes are potentially weaponizable and in some cases have been tried or their criticality experimentally demonstrated. In most cases, however, promising isotopes are either extremely rare, difficult to produce in quantity, or hazardous to handle. Some isotopes can serve to boost the yield of fission weapons, but 235U and 239Pu are likely to remain the only practical primary fuels for nuclear weapons. In view of this, and the fact that this analysis gives no engineering details on the design of nuclear weapons, this paper will be of no assistance to putative bomb-makers; rather, my purpose is to clarify the physics similarities between 235U and 239Pu that make them suitable candidates for fission weapons.
Skip Nav Destination
PAPERS| January 01 2017
An examination of the potential fission-bomb weaponizability of nuclides other than 235U and 239Pu
B. Cameron Reed; An examination of the potential fission-bomb weaponizability of nuclides other than 235U and 239Pu. Am. J. Phys. 1 January 2017; 85 (1): 38–44. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4966630
Download citation file: