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What is Radiation?. Health Physics Society - Power Reactor Section Radiation Science Education. Outline. Ionizing & Non-Ionizing Photons & Particles Stable & Unstable Atoms Half -Life Radiation Detectors. Ionizing & Non-Ionizing Radiation.

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What is Radiation?

Health Physics Society - Power Reactor Section

Radiation Science Education


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Outline

  • Ionizing & Non-Ionizing

  • Photons & Particles

  • Stable & Unstable Atoms

  • Half -Life

  • Radiation Detectors


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Ionizing & Non-Ionizing Radiation

  • Ionizing Radiation: Radiation is energy transmitted as particles or waves. Ionizing radiation has sufficient energy to dislodge orbital electrons, thereby producing ions.

    • Examples: alpha, beta, gamma, neutron, and x-rays

  • Non-Ionizing Radiation: Radiation that does not have sufficient energy to dislodge orbital electrons.

    • Examples: visible light, infra-red , micro-waves, radio-waves, and radar


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Ionizing Radiation Hits An Atom

Ejected

Electron

Incoming

Photon


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Particles and Photons

  • Radiation can be in the form of particles or waves (photons).

  • The most common types of ionizing radiation are alpha, beta, gamma, neutron, and x-rays.

    • Gamma and x-ray radiation are photons. They are part of the electromagnetic spectrum and considered packets of pure energy.

    • Alpha, beta, and neutron radiation are particles having mass. Betas are electrons and alphas are helium nuclei.



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Radioactive Decay:The process of unstable atoms spontaneously emitting radiation.



Half-Life = 1.3

billion years

Parent Nucleus

Potassium-40

Unstable atom

Daughter Nucleus

Calcium-40

Stable atom


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What is Half-Life?

  • Radioactive decay is the process where an unstable atom emits radiation.

  • Radioactive decay changes unstable atoms into more stable atoms.

  • Half-life is the time it takes for 1/2 the atoms of a particular radioactive element to transform itself by decay.


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Gas-Filled Detectors

Voltage Source

Incident

Ionizing

Radiation

+

+

+

Electrical

Current

Measuring

Device

-

-

-

Anode +

Cathode -


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Key Concepts

  • Radioactive Decay: The process where an unstable atom transforms itself into a more stable atom by spontaneous emission of radiation.

  • Ionizing Radiation: Any radiation which is capable of dislodging electrons from atoms thereby producing ions.

  • Half Life: The time it takes for one-half of the atoms of a particular radioactive element to transform itself by radioactive decay.


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References

  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission Home Page: www.nrc.gov

    • teachers corner@www.nrc.gov/NRC/teachers.html

    • students corner@www.nrc.gov/NRC/STUDENTS/students.html

  • Nuclear Energy Institute Home Page: www.nei.org

    • science club@ www.nei.org/scienceclub/index.html

  • Health Physics Society Home Page: www.hps.org

    • www.hps.org/publicinformation/radfactsheets/


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