Nuclear physics and technology – inside the atom

The uncovering of the structure of atoms – the basic units of matter – as composed of clouds of electrons surrounding a central nucleus is one of the landmark 20th-century discoveries, underpinning modern healthcare, advanced materials and information technology.

Nuclear physics and technology - inside the atom

However, while the chemical and physical characteristics of atomic electrons have been studied thoroughly, and have been successfully exploited to make pharmaceuticals, plastics and electronic devices, for example, the nucleus is less well understood.