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Name, symbol Oxygen-17,17O
Neutrons 9
Protons 8
Nuclide data
Natural abundance 0.0373% SMOW[1]
0.0377421% (atmosphere[2])
Isotope mass 16.9991315 u
Spin +5/2
Binding energy 131763 keV

Oxygen-17 is a low abundant isotope of oxygen (0.0373% in seawater; approx. twice as abundant as Deuterium). Being the only stable isotope of oxygen possessing a nuclear spin(+5/2) and a favorable characteristic of field-independent relaxation in liquid water, this enables NMR studies of oxidative metabolic pathways through compounds containing 17O at high magnetic fields (i.e. metabolically produced H217O water by oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria[3]).


The isotope was first hypothesized and subsequently imaged by Patrick Blackett in Rutherford's lab 1924:[4]

Of the nature of the integrated nucleus little can be said without further data. It must however have a mass 17, and provided no other nuclear electrons are gained or lost in the process, an atomic number 8. It ought therefore to be an isotope of oxygen. If it is stable it should exist on the earth.

It was a product out of the first man-made transmutation of 14N and 4He2+ conducted by Frederick Soddy and Ernest Rutherford in 1917-1919.[5] Finally its natural abundance in earth atmosphere was detected in 1929 by Giauque and Johnson in absorption spectra.[6]


  • Excess mass: -809 keV
  • Possible parent nuclides: β from 17N, electron capture from 17F


  1. ^ Hoefs, Jochen (1997). Stable Isotope Geochemistry. Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-3-540-40227-5. 
  2. ^ Blunier, Thomas; Bruce Barnett; Michael L. Bender; Melissa B. Hendricks (2002). "Biological oxygen productivity during the last 60,000 years from triple oxygen isotope measurements". Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 6. 16 (3): 1029. Bibcode:2002GBioC..16c...3B. doi:10.1029/2001GB001460. 
  3. ^ Arai, T.; S. Nakao; K. Mori; K. Ishimori; I. Morishima; T. Miyazawa; B. Fritz-Zieroth (31 May 1990). "CEREBRAL OXYGEN UTILIZATION ANALYZED BY THE USE OF OXYGEN-17 AND ITS NUCLEAR MAGNETIC RESONANCE". Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 169 (1): 153–158. PMID 2350339. doi:10.1016/0006-291X(90)91447-Z. 
  4. ^ a b Blackett, P. M. S. (1925). "The Ejection of Protons from Nitrogen Nuclei, Photographed by the Wilson Method". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A. 107 (742): 349–360. Bibcode:1925RSPSA.107..349B. doi:10.1098/rspa.1925.0029. 
  5. ^ Rutherford, Ernest (1919). "Collision of alpha particles with light atoms IV. An anomalous effect in nitrogen.". Philosophical Magazine. 6th series. 37: 581–587. doi:10.1080/14786440608635919. 
  6. ^ Giauque, W. F.; Johnston, H. L. (1929). "AN ISOTOPE OF OXYGEN, MASS 17, IN THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE". J. Am. Chem. Soc. 51 (12): 3528–3534. doi:10.1021/ja01387a004. 

Oxygen-17 is an
isotope of oxygen
Decay product of:
nitrogen-17, fluorine-17
Decay chain
of oxygen-17
Decays to: