Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Binding Energy

  • Steven B. Charnley
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_163-3


Binding energy is the energy required to disassemble an entity into its constituent parts. This corresponds to the mechanical work which must be done in acting against the forces which hold the entity together. The binding energy of an atom is that required to disassemble an atom into free electrons and a nucleus, acting against the electromagnetic force. The nuclear binding energy is that required to disassemble a nucleus into its constituent neutrons and protons, acting against the strong nuclear force. The term is also used in other contexts, for example, for the energy involved in attaching a gaseous molecule to an interstellar dust grain upon collision. In this case, the magnitude depends on both the physical nature of the molecule (e.g., polarizability) and of the grain surface. Binding energies for physisorption (through van der Waals bonding) are generally much lower than those of chemisorption.

See Also


Binding Energy Bioorganic Chemistry Free Electron Gaseous Molecule Physical Nature 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Solar System Exploration Division, Code 691, Astrochemistry LaboratoryNASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 699GreenbeltUSA