Nuclear force is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, the others being gravitational and electromagnetic forces. In fact, being 10 million times stronger than the chemical binding forces, they are also known as the strong forces. The nuclear force acts between all of the particles in the nucleus, i.e., between two neutrons, between two protons, and between a neutron and a proton. It is attractive in all cases. In contrast, an electrical force acts only between two protons and it is repulsive. The nucleus is held by the forces which protect them from the enormous repulsion forces of the positive protons. It is a force with short range and not similar to the electromagnetic force. We know that the nucleus is made up with its fundamental particles that are the protons and neutrons.
What is Nuclear force?
Nuclear force is the force that binds the proton and neutrons in a nucleus together. This force can exist between protons and protons, neutrons and protons or neutrons and neutrons. This force is what holds the nucleus together. The charge of protons, which is +1e tends to push them away from each other with a strong electric field repulsive force. But nuclear force is strong enough to keep them together and to overcome that resistance at short range.
Characteristics of Nuclear force:
- Nuclear forces are attractive in nature: The magnitude which depends upon inter nucleon distance is of very high order.
- Nuclear forces are charge Independent: Nature of force remains the same whether we consider force between two protons, between two neutrons or between a proton and a neutron.
- These are Short Range forces: Nuclear forces operate between two nucleons situated in close neighbourhood only.
- Nuclear forces decrease very quickly with distance between two nucleons: Their rate of decrease is much rapid than that of inverse square law forces. The forces become negligible when the nucleons are more than 10-12 cm apart.
- Nuclear force are spin dependent: Nucleons having parallel spin are more strongly bound to each other than those having anti-parallel spin.
Examples: The binding of protons, which are repulsive in nature because of their positive charge. On a larger scale, this force is responsible for the immense destructive power of nuclear weapons. It is also used in Nuclear power plants to generate heat for the purpose of generating energy, such as electricity.