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Uses of Nuclear Chemistry (and half life post lab). Half Life. Def: Time it takes for the amount of a radioactive substance to decay by half. Example Problem.

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Uses of nuclear chemistry and half life post lab

Uses of Nuclear Chemistry(and half life post lab)

Half life
Half Life

  • Def:

    • Time it takes for the amount of a radioactive substance to decay by half

Example problem
Example Problem

  • The half-life of isotope X is 2.0 years. How many years would it take for a 4.0 mg sample of X to decay and have only 0.50 mg of it remain?

One more example
One More Example….

  • The half-life of Po-218 is three minutes. How much of a 2.0 gram sample remains after 15 minutes?

Back to the nuclear
Back to the NUCLEAR!

  • A common misconception is that the products of nuclear chemistry is all bad.

  • There are many practical uses for nuclear chemistry!

Uses of nuclear chemistry around your home
Uses of Nuclear Chemistry Around Your Home

  • Smoke Detectors:

    • Contain a small amount of americium-241

  • Power

    • Nuclear power accounts for 11% of the world’s energy needs

Agricultural applications
Agricultural Applications

  • Radioactive Tracers

    • Are used to help scientists understand the chemical and biological processes in plants.

    • Ex: Phosphorus-32 is injected into a plant (looks identical to phosphorus-31)

    • Scientists can then use a Geiger counter to detect the movement of phsoporus-32 in the plant

    • Radioactive Tracers Commercial

Food irradiation
Food Irradiation

  • Method of treating food in order to make it safer to eat and have a longer shelf life.

  • Done by exposing food to the gamma rays of a radioactive isotope. Cobalt-60 is commonly used.

  • The energy from the gamma ray passing through the food is enough to destroy many disease-causing bacteria or those causing the food to spoil.

Food irradiation1
Food Irradiation

  • Can slow down the ripening of food, so foods won’t ripen before they reach the store

  • Used widely in Europe, Mexico and Canada, however the US has been hesitant to adopt

  • It does this without affecting the quality of the food!

Archaeological dating
Archaeological Dating

  • Carbon-14 dating

  • All organisms contain a given concentration of carbon-14.

  • When an organism dies, it has a specific ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 by mass in the cell’s of its body.

Archaeological dating1
Archaeological Dating

  • At the moment of death, no new carbon-14 is metabolized.

  • Carbon-14 is decayed at a constant, predictable pace

Nuclear medicine
Nuclear Medicine

  • Branch of medicine that uses radiation to provide information about the functioning of a person’s specific organs or treat disease.

Diagnostic techniques
Diagnostic Techniques

  • Radioactive Tracers

    • Emit gamma rays in the body

  • Can be given by injection, inhalation or orally

Radionuclide therapy rnt
Radionuclide Therapy (RNT)

  • Rapidly dividing cells are especially sensitive to damage by radiation

  • This is why cancerous growths can be controlled or eliminated by irradiating the area containing the growth.


  • Can be taken in multiple ways- mouth, injection, placed into the eye or bladder

  • Used in small amounts for diagnostic purposes

  • Used in larger amounts to treat diseases like cancer

Nuclear fission and fusion
Nuclear Fission and Fusion

  • Nuclear Fission

    • Nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of the atom splits into smaller parts

  • Nuclear Fusion

    • Process where 2 or more nuclei join (fuse) together