How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 1053

What is an H-Bomb made of?
A hydrogen bomb or thermonuclear bomb is a nuclear weapon that obtains most of its energy from the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei. This fusion typically involves deuterium and tritium nuclei, the heavy isotopes of hydrogen. Deuterium is a stable, naturally occurring isotope with one proton and one neutron in its nucleus, and can be extracted from normal water. Tritium is an artificial, radioactive isotope with one proton and two neutrons in its nucleus, and can be formed in nuclear reactors or, during a nuclear explosion, by the exposure of lithium nuclei to the neutrons formed in that explosion.

Since hydrogen nuclei are positively charged, they repel one another. To get these heavy hydrogen nuclei close enough together to fuse into helium nuclei, the hydrogen nuclei must be heated to fantastic temperatures. This heating is done with a fission bomb—a uranium or plutonium bomb. When the fission bomb explodes, its heat is enough to trigger the hydrogen bomb.


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