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Chapter 32

Nuclear Physics and


Nuclear Radiation

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

For Chapter 32:


Please emphasize on 32.2 and 32.4:
The students should be able to
determine the mass number and atomic number for parent
and daughter nuclei in alpha and beta decay and gamma
radiation. [32.2]
explain the terms binding energy and binding energy per nucleon
[32.4]

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Units of Chapter 32
The Constituents and Structure of Nuclei
Radioactivity
Half-Life and Radioactive Dating
Nuclear Binding Energy
Nuclear Fission
Nuclear Fusion
Practical Applications of Nuclear Physics
Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

Lesson Outcome
At the end of the class, student should be
able to
Define Proton, Neutron, Nucleons, atomic
Number, mass number and atomic mass unit
Explain properties of alpha, beta and gamma
radiation.
Define Radioactivity
Explain Alpha Decay, Beta Decay and Gamma
Decay
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32-1 The Constituents and Structure of


Nuclei
Nucleus contain positively charged protons and
neutral neutrons. Nucleus are characterized by the
number of protons and neutrons they contain.

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The notation for a particular nucleus of


element X is written:
Examples:
Masses and charges of atomic particles:

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The atomic mass unit, u, is defined so that the


mass of
is exactly 12 u.
This mass may also be written in terms of
MeV/c2, using E = mc2:
Careful measurements have related the size of
the nucleus to its atomic number:

By contrast, the radius of an atom is on the


order of 10-10 m. This means that the density of
the nucleus is extremely high.
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If the nucleus contains only positive charges, why


doesnt it fly apart due to their mutual repulsion?
There is another force acting, called the strong
nuclear force, which keeps it together. Its
properties:
The strong force is short range, acting only to
distances of a couple fermis.
The strong force is attractive and acts with nearly
equal strength between protons and protons,
protons and neutrons, and neutrons and neutrons.
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Since the strong


nuclear force is short
range, atoms with
more protons must
have proportionally
more neutrons in order
to remain stable.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

32-2 Radioactivity
Unstable nucleus can either decay into a stable
nucleus or can return to the ground state.
Various emissions that result are known as
radioactivity:
1. Alpha particles, which consist of two neutrons
and two protons.
2. Electrons and positrons, also called (for
historical reasons) beta rays. Positrons have
the same mass as electrons but are positively
charged.
3. Gamma rays, which are high-energy photons.
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Penetrating abilities:
rays can barely penetrate a sheet of paper.
rays (both - and +) can penetrate a few
millimeters of aluminum.
rays can penetrate several centimeters of
lead.

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Alpha Decay
When a nucleus decays by emitting an alpha
particle, it loses two protons and two neutrons,
Symbolically:

Here, X is the parent nucleus


and Y is the daughter.

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Beta Decay
A nucleus that decays via beta decay emits
an electron and positron.

There is a third particle emitted, which has no


electric charge and little, called the neutrino.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

The following nuclei are observed to decay by


emitting a - particle. Write out the decay
process for each of these nuclei, and determine
the energy released in each reaction.

35
16

35
S 17
Cl e

mi 34.969033 u
mf 34.968853 u
m 34.968853 u 34.969033 u 0.000180 u

931.5 MeV/c 2 2
E m c 0.000180 u
c 0.168 MeV
1
u

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212
82

Pb

212
83

Bi e

mi 211.99188 u
mf 211.991272 u
m 211.991272 u 211.99188 u 0.00061 u
931.5 MeV/c 2 2
c 0.57 MeV
1u

E m c 2 0.00061 u

Gamma Decay
A gamma ray is emitted when an excited
nucleus returns to its ground state. Nuclei may
become excited through alpha or beta decay.

The asterisk indicates the excited nucleus.


Heavy nuclei decaying via alpha emission may
very well decay to a daughter nucleus which is
also unstable, and so on. The decays will
continue until a stable nucleus is reached.
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This is a diagram of the series of alpha and beta


decays in the decay chain.

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Some nuclei decay more rapidly than others. The


rate of decay the number of decays per second
is called the activity.
Two units of activity:

The curie (and the millicurie and microcurie)


are most commonly used.

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

32-3 Half-Life and Radioactive Dating


Nuclear decay is a random process, in that we
do not know which nucleus will decay at what
time. However, if we have a large number of
similar nuclei, we can predict the rate at which
they decay quite well.
The number that decay within a given time
interval is always the same fraction of the total
number at the beginning of the interval; this is
exponential decay.

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Different nuclei have different decay constants .


A larger decay constant means the material
decays away more rapidly.

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Nuclear decay can also be characterized by the


half-life, which is the time it takes for half a
sample to decay away.
The half-life is related to the decay constant:

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Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.

Summary
Nuclei are composed of protons and neutrons
(nucleons).
Number of protons in a nucleus (atomic
number): Z
Number of neutrons in a nucleus: N
Mass number A = N + Z
Designation:
Isotopes: same atomic number, different N
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Summary
Mass of

is exactly 12 u.

Nuclear radius:
Nuclear density is approximately constant
Strong nuclear force holds nuclei together
Radioactivity is the emission from the decay of
an unstable or excited nucleus
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Summary
An alpha particle (helium nucleus) is two
protons and two neutrons.
Alpha decay:
Beta decay:
Gamma decay occurs when an excited nucleus
decays to its ground state.
Activity is the number of decays per second:

Copyright 2010 Pearson Education, Inc.