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Nuclear

Transformation

A nuclear
transformation is
when atoms of one
element turn into
atoms of a different
element.

Alpha Decay
is the Greek letter called alpha.
Alpha decay (-decay) is when an
atom loses an alpha particle from its
nucleus. An alpha particle is made up
of two protons and two neutrons. It
has no electrons associated with it, so
in essence an alpha particle is a
helium ion, He2+. The alpha particle is
released from the nucleus and
emitted as radiation.

Alpha decay can be described by the following equation:

where:
A- is the atomic mass
Z- is the atomic number
X- is chemical symbol

The new element is formed that is two


places lower in the periodic table than
the original element.
Example:

What is the effect? The mass number


decreases by 4 and the atomic number
decreases by 2. The nucleus becomes
lighter, and becomes a nuclide of a
different element, 2 over from the element
it was to start with.

Beta Decay
is the Greek letter called beta.
Beta decay ( decay) is when one of
the neutrons in the nucleus splits into
a proton and a high energy electron.
The proton stays put in the nucleus,
but the high energy electron is
released from the nucleus and
emitted as radiation.

Example:

What is the effect? The mass number doesn't


change because the only thing that went
elsewhere was an electron, and an electron's
mass is too small to notice. The atomic
number changes, the appearance of a new
proton increases the atomic number by one.
The nuclide stays the same mass, but
becomes a different element, the next one

Gama Decay
is the Greek letter called gamma.
Gamma decay (-decay) usually
occurs after one of the other types of
decay. The change in the nucleus
usually ends up with the nucleus
being overly energetic, so to settle
everything down again, the excess
energy gets released. This excess
energy released by the nucleus is
called gamma radiation or gamma

Example:

What is the effect? Gamma rays are not


solid particles, they have no mass and no
charge and so gamma decay makes no
change to either the mass number or the
atomic number of the nuclide. The nuclide
just gets rid of its extra energy and gets
back to normal.

Quiz
1. This particle is made up of two
protons and two neutrons.
2. This type of radiation can penetrate
more substances.
3. What type of decay is it when the
number of nuclear particles doesn't
change at all?
4. This particle is given off when a
neutron breaks down.
5. This is the biggest part of radiation.

True or False
1. The three types of radioactive decay
are alpha, bravo and gamma.
2. The name for atoms of one element
changing into another element is
nuclear transformation.
3. Nuclear transformation equations
must also balance with their mass
numbers and atomic numbers.