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Unit 1.3 Nuclear Chemistry. 1.3-1 Types of Radioactivity. Learning Objectives. By the end of this section you will be able to: Observe nuclear changes and explain how they change an element. Express alpha and beta decay in nuclear equations. Model the half life of an isotope.

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Unit 1 3 nuclear chemistry

Unit 1.3Nuclear Chemistry

1.3-1 Types of Radioactivity

Learning objectives
Learning Objectives

  • By the end of this section you will be able to:

    • Observe nuclear changes and explain how they change an element.

    • Express alpha and beta decay in nuclear equations.

    • Model the half life of an isotope.

    • Explain how half life is used to date materials.

Important terms
Important Terms

  • Radioactivity

  • Alpha Particle

  • Beta Particle

  • Alpha Decay

  • Beta Decay

  • Gamma Decay

  • Half life

  • Radioactive Dating

  • Radioactive Decay

Discovery of radioactivity
Discovery of Radioactivity

  • Radioactivity is the spontaneous emission of radiation by an unstable atomic nucleus.

Nuclear reactions
Nuclear Reactions

  • Nuclear reactions involve the protons and neutrons found in the nucleus

  • During nuclear reactions a nucleus can gain or lose protons and neutrons.

Nuclear reactions1
Nuclear Reactions

  • Remember that the number of protons determines the identity of an element.

    • Changing the number of protons changed the element into another element.

    • During nuclear reactions atoms of one element are changed into atoms of another element

Nuclear notation
Nuclear Notation

  • Different isotopes of atoms can be represented using nuclear notation.

Review of nuclear notation
Review of Nuclear Notation

  • In your notebook write the following isotopes in nuclear notation.

    • Hydrogen-1

    • Hydrogen-2

    • Hydrogen-3

Radiation causes radioactive decay
Radiation causes Radioactive Decay

  • Radioactive decay is the release of radiation by radioactive isotopes.

  • Not all radioactive isotopes decay in the same way.

    • Different types of decay change the nucleus in different ways.

      • The three types of decay are:

        • Alpha

        • Beta

        • Gamma decay

Radioactive alpha decay
Radioactive ALPHA Decay

  • Alpha decay is the release of alpha particles (2 protons and 2 neutrons).

    • Alpha particles are helium nuclei consisting of two protons and two neutrons.

    • Alpha particles are represented as or α.

Radioactive alpha decay1
Radioactive ALPHA Decay

  • Alpha particles, which are large in size, collide with objects around them.

    • Do not penetrate very deeply

    • Are easily stopped by a thin layer of material.

Radioactive alpha decay2
Radioactive ALPHA Decay

  • Alpha decay causes the decaying nucleus to lose 2 protons and 2 neutrons.

  • This means:

    • the mass # decreases by 4 (2P and 2N)

    • The atomic # decreases by 2

    • Examples

  • ParentDaughter alpha particle

Equation for radioactive alpha decay
Equation for Radioactive ALPHA Decay

  • The parent element turns into a daughter element with a mass number 4 less and an atomic number 2 less than the parent!

  • Does this reaction demonstrate the law of conservation of matter?

    • How can we check it? Explain

Alpha emission
ALPHA Emission

Two protons and neutrons are lost

The protons and neutrons leave as an alpha particle.

+ Energy!

Radioactive alpha decay3
Radioactive Alpha Decay

  • Write the equation for alpha decay for the following particle in your notebook.

    • Thorium-230

Radioactive beta decay
Radioactive BETA Decay

  • Beta decay is the release of beta particles from a decaying nucleus.

  • A beta particle is a high energy electron with a 1- charge.

    • Beta particles are written as β- or

    • Beta particles pass more easily through matter than alpha particles and require sheets of metal, blocks of wood or specialized clothing to be stopped.

Radioactive beta decay1
Radioactive BETA Decay

  • The electron released during beta decay is not one of the original electronsthat existed outside the nucleus.

  • The beta particle (electron) is produced by the change of a neutron into a proton and an electron.

    Mass# is same!

    • Parent Daughter Beta

      (add P+) (sub e-)

Equation for radioactive beta decay
Equation for Radioactive BETA Decay

  • The parent nucleus turns into a daughter with an atomic number 1 greater.

  • The mass number stays the same.

Beta emission
BETA Emission

  • A neutron becomes a proton (which stays in the nucleus) and electron (which is ejected from the atom).



Radioactive beta decay2
Radioactive BETA Decay

  • Write the equations for beta decay for the following particles.

    • Magnesuim-27

    • Sulfur-35

Radioactive gamma decay
Radioactive Gamma Decay

  • Gamma decay is the release of gamma rays from a nucleus.

    • A gamma ray is a high energy form of electromagnetic radiation with out a change in mass or charge.

Radioactive gamma decay1
Radioactive GAMMA Decay

  • Gamma rays have high penetrating ability and are very dangerous to living cells.

  • To stop gamma rays thick blocks of lead or concrete are needed.

Radioactive gamma decay2
Radioactive GAMMA Decay

  • During gamma decayonly energy is released!

    • Gamma decay does not generally occur alone, it occurs with other modes of decay. (alpha or beta)

Equation for radioactive gamma decay with beta or alpha decay
Equation for Radioactive GAMMA Decay with Beta or Alpha Decay

  • When gamma decay is expressed in an equation it is expressed as γ.

    • Electron from beta decay is captured to cause gamma particle to emit.

    • The following equation shows both gamma and alpha decay occurring.

Gamma emission with beta decay
GAMMA Emission with Beta decay Decay

Beta emission

Co-60  Ni-60 + Beta e-  Ni-60 + gamma photon (particle of radiation)

(excited state)

Quiz!! Decay


Each correctly answered question is worth 1 point!

  • What are the three types of decay?

  • Explain what occurs to the element in each type of decay, be specific.

    • A.



  • Which type of decay is least harmful to living cells.

  • Which is most harmful?

  • If Uranium-238 alpha decays, what would the decay equation be?

Answers to quiz questions
Answers to quiz questions Decay

  • Alpha, beta and gamma

  • Alpha- gives off alpha particle which is 2 protons and 2 neutrons. It reduces the atomic number by 2 and the mass by 4 so becomes a new element

    Beta- a neutron becomes a proton and an electron and gives off the electron, it adds 1 to the atomic number but leaves the mass number the same so a new element is formed

    Gamma- just a gamma ray, pure electromagnetic radiation (energy)

    3. Alpha


    5 238 U -> 234 Th + 4 He

    92 90 2

Radioactive decay
Radioactive Decay in the blanks

  • Radiation can be detected with Geiger counters and scintillation counters.

    • Geiger counters detect ionizing radiation.

    • Scintillation counters register the intensity of radiation by detecting light.

Rate of radioactive decay
Rate of Radioactive Decay in the blanks

  • It is impossible to predict when a specific nucleus in a sample of radioactive material will undergo decay.

  • The rate of overall decay is constant so that it is possible to predict when a given fraction of a sample will have decayed.

Half life
Half-Life in the blanks

  • Half-life is a term used to describe the time it takes for half of a given amount of a radioactive isotope to decay.

    • Half-life varies greatly depending on the isotope

Half life and radioisotope dating
Half-Life and Radioisotope Dating in the blanks

  • Radioactive decay has provided scientists with a technique for determining the age of fossils, geological formations and human artifacts.

    • Four isotopes are commonly used for dating objects

      • Carbon-14

      • Uranium-238

      • Rubidium-87

      • Potassium-40

Half life and radioisotope dating c 14
Half-Life and Radioisotope Dating;C-14 in the blanks

  • Carbon-14 Dating

    • All organisms take in carbon during their lifetime.

    • When organisms die they stop taking in carbon.

      • Most carbon that organisms take in is stable (Carbon-12 or Carbon-13).

      • About one atom in a million is Carbon-14.

        • While the organism is alive the amount of Carbon-14 in its tissues remains constant.

        • After the organism dies no more Carbon-14 is taken in and the amount begins to decline at a predictable pace. (half-life of C-14=5730 years)

Half life of carbon 14
Half-Life of Carbon-14 in the blanks

Half life and radioisotope dating1
Half-Life and Radioisotope Dating in the blanks

  • The half-life of Carbon-14 is 5730 years.

    • Objects greater than 60,000 years old cannot be dated using this method because the amount of Carbon-14 that remains is too small to be detected.

      • Objects greater than 60,000 years old are dated using:

        • Uranium-238 (t½ = 4.5 billion years)

        • Rubidium-87 (t½ = 48 billion years)

        • Potassium-40 (t½ = 1.25 billion years)