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Deuterium Facts

What Is Deuterium?


This is glowing ionized deuterium in an IEC reactor

This is ionized deuterium in an IEC reactor. You can see the characteristic pink or reddish glow displayed by ionized deuterium.


What is deuterium? Here's a look at what deuterium is, where you might find it, and some of the uses of deuterium.

Deuterium Definition

Hydrogen is unique in that it has three isotopes which are named. Deuterium is one of the isotopes of hydrogen. It has one proton and one neutron. The most common isotope of hydrogen is protium, which has one proton and no neutrons. Because deuterium contains a neutron, it is more massive or heavier than protium, so it is sometimes called heavy hydrogen.

Deuterium Facts

  • The chemical symbol for deuterium is D. Sometimes the symbol 2H is used.


  • Deuterium is a stable isotope of hydrogen.


  • The natural abundance of deuterium in the ocean is approximately 156.25 ppm, which is one atom in 6,400 of hydrogen.


  • The name for deuterium comes from the Greek word deuteros, which means "second". This is in reference two the two particles, a proton and a neutron, which make up the nucleus of a deuterium atom.


  • A deuterium nucleus is termed a deuteron or deuton.


  • Deuterium is used as a tracer, in nuclear fusion reactors and to slow down neutrons in heavy water moderated fission reactors.

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