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# NUCLEAR PHYSICS AND RADIOACTVITY

I. Nuclear structure
A. Nucleons
1. neutron: charge = 0 C; 1.008665 amu
2. proton: charge = +1.60 x 10-19 C; 1.007276 amu
B. Electrons: charge = -1.60 x 10-19 C; 0.000548 amu
C. Atomic number Z = number of protons; N = number of neutrons
D. Atomic mass number A = number of protons + number of neutrons
1. A = Z + N 2. u = amu =1.6605 x 10-27 kg
3. A also called nucleon number; examples: AXz, 1H1, 1n0, 0e-1
E. Isotope – nuclei that contains same number of protons but different number of neutrons.
1. Examples: 1H1, 2H1, 3H1

## II. Strong Nuclear Force – one of the 4 fundamental forces

A. Independent of electric charge
B. Range is very short
C. Hold the nucleus in atoms together

## III. Mass Defect of the Nucleus and Nuclear Binding Energy

A. Binding energy – the energy required to break a nucleus apart.
1. Binding energy = (Mass defect) c2 E = m c2
2. Energy = J = Nm
3. 1 eV = 1.6 x 10-19 J 1u = 931.5 MeV

## IV. Radioactivity - α , β , and γ ; particles and electromagnetic radiation

A. Disintegration must obey the following conservation laws:
1. Mass/energy
2. Electric charge
3. Linear and angular momentum
4. Nucleon number
B. Alpha decay 4He2 particle with a +2e charge A = 4 which is stable
1. Example: 238U92 ⇒ 234Th90 + 4He2
2. General equation: APZ ⇒ A-4DZ-2 + 4He2
3. Calculations example: 238U92 ⇒ 234Th90 + 4He2
238.0508 u ⇒ 234.0436 u + 4.0026 u = 238.0462 u
∆ m in amu = 238.0508 u – 2380462 u = 0.0047 u if 1 u = 931.5 MeV then
0.0046 amu = 4.3 MeV
∆ m in kg if 1 u = 1.6605 x 10-27 kg then 0.0046 u = 7.6383 x 10-30 kg
Using E = mc2 (7.6383 x 10-30 kg)( 3.0 x 108 m/s)2 = 6.8648 x 10-13
C. β decay; particles β - or 0e-1
1. General formula: APZ ⇒ ADZ=1 + 0e-1
2. Example: : 234Th90 ⇒ 234Pa91 + 0e-1
234.04359 u ⇒ 234.04330 u = 0.0026 u = 2.4 MeV
3. Neutron decay: 1n0 ⇒ 1p1 + 0e-1
4. β + decay yields a positron or a positive electron (antimatter)
D. γ decay results from a nucleus that is in an excited state which goes to a lower energy level and
a
gamma ray or photon is emitted.
1. APZ *⇒ ADZ + γ
V. Neutrino – results from a beta decay; symbol ν and it is associated with the weak nuclear force
VI. Radioactive decay and Activity
A. N = number of parent nuclei
B. Half life = T1/2 at t=0 then N = N original (No) if t= T1/2 then N = ½ No; at t= 2T1/2 then N =
1/4No
C. The activity of a radioactive sample is the number of disintegrations that occur per second.
∆ N/t; Bq is a Becquerel = 1 disintegration/second

VII. Radioactive Dating -T1/2 is the time for one half life
A. Example is the half life of C – 14. T1/2 is approximately 5700 years.

## VIII. Radioactive Decay series

A. 238U92 ⇒ 234Th90 + 4He2
⇓ ⇓⇒ 234Pa91 + 0e-1

226
Ra88 ⇒ 222Rn86 ⇒ 218Po84 ⇒ 214Pb82
IX. Detectors – Geiger-Mueller tube, can detect: α , β , and γ ; uses ionization which produces a
current
Photographic emulsion – photographs; Photomultiplier tubes.

## IONIZING RADIATION, NUCLEAR ENERGY AND ELEMENTARY PARTICLES

I. Biological effects of ionizing radiation
A. Ionizing radiation – photons with enough energy can knock an electron out of an atom or
molecule.
1. Usually an x-ray or gamma ray, but alpha and beta particles can when they are in close
proximity.
2. Alters the structure of the molecules in a cell.
3. Exposure measured in Roentgens (R) = charge of the ions (q)/mass of the air
a. R = q/m = C/kg 1 R = 2.58 x 10-4 C/kg
4. Absorbed dose measured in a Gray 1 G = 1J/kg
5. Rad = radiation absorbed dose 1 rad = 0.01 G
6. RBE – relative biological effectiveness is used to compare damage caused
by different types of radiation.
B. The effects of ionizing radiation on humans:
1. Short-term: radiation sickness, nausea, fever, diarrhea, loss of hair
2. Long term: hair loss, eye cataracts, cancers, genetic defects

II. Induced nuclear reactions – change elements 4He2 + 14N7 ⇒ 17O8 + 1H1
III. Nuclear fission: 1n0 + 235U92 ⇒ 236U92 ⇒ 141Ba56 + 92Kr36 + 31n0 ; chain reactions
IV. Nuclear fusion: 1H1, + 3H1, ⇒ 4He2 + 1n0
V. Elementary particles
A. Neutrinos – no electric charge, very small mass, travels at or near the speed of light.
B. Positrons – (positive electron, antimatter) They have the same mass as a n electron, but with a
positive charge. When an electron and a positron come in contact, annihilation occurs and
electromagnetic radiation in the form of gamma rays results.
C. Muons and Pions – weak nuclear force.
D. Quarks – up, down, strange, and three more. They have fractional charges. Quarks cannot exist
independently. Baryons – protons and neutrons are made up of three quarks.
E. Standard model: Atoms are composed of a nucleus (which composed of protons and neurons
which are composed of quarks, which are composed of ?) surrounded by a cloud of electrons.