nucleus, radioactivity, & nuclear medicine

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Nucleus, Radioactivity, & Nuclear Medicine. Dr. Michael P. Gillespie. Radioactive. Natural Radioactivity. Radioactivity is the process by which some atoms emit energy and particles. The energy and particles are termed radiation . - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Nucleus, Radioactivity, & Nuclear MedicineDr. Michael P. Gillespie

  • Radioactive

  • Natural RadioactivityRadioactivity is the process by which some atoms emit energy and particles.The energy and particles are termed radiation.Radioactivity is a nuclear event: matter and energy released during this process come from the nucleus.

  • Radioactive Atim

  • Types of RadiationThree types of radiation are emitted by unstable nuclei:Alpha particlesBeta particlesGamma rays

  • Alpha Particles Alpha particles consists of 2 protons and 2 neutrons.They have no electrons and therefore have a +2 charge.They have a relatively large mass and are slow moving. Traveling at approximately 5-10% the speed of light.They can be stopped by barriers as thin as a few pages of paper.

  • Alpha Particle Decay

  • Beta Particles A beta particle is a fast moving electron. Traveling at approximately 90% the speed of light.It is formed in the nucleus by the conversion of a neutron into a proton.They are more penetrating and are stopped only by more dense materials such as wood, metal, or several layers of clothing.

  • Beta Particle Decay

  • Gamma Rays Gamma rays are the most energetic part of the electromagnetic spectrum and result from nuclear processes.Electromagnetic radiation has no protons, neutrons, or electrons. Unlike alpha and beta particles, gamma rays have no matter.Gamma radiation is highly energetic and the most penetrating form of nuclear radiation.Barriers of lead, concrete, or a combination of the two are required to stop gamma rays.Travels at the speed of light.

  • Gamma Particle Decay

  • Penetration

  • Radioactive Decay

  • Properties of Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Radiation

    Name and SymbolIdentityChargeMass (amu)VelocityPenetrationAlpha Helium nucleus+24.00265-10% speed of lightLowBeta Electron-10.00054990% speed of lightMediumGamma Radiant Energy00Speed of lightHigh

  • Nuclear Structure and StabilityA measure of nuclear stability is the binding energy of the nucleus. The binding energy is the amount of energy required to break a nucleus up into its component protons and neutrons. The binding energy must be very large to overcome the extreme repulsive forces of the positive protons for one another.

  • Half-LifeThe half-life is the time required for one-half of a given quantity of a substance to undergo change.Each isotope has its own characteristic half-life.The half-life can be as short as a few millionths of a second or as long as billions of years.

  • Nuclear Energy Production

  • NucularGeorge W. Bush would mispronounce the word nuclear as Nucular

  • Nuclear Energy ProductionEinstein predicted that when the nucleus breaks apart, the small amount of nuclear mass produces a tremendous amount of energy.The heat energy released converts water into steam.The steam turns a turbine, which drives an electrical generator, producing electricity.

  • Nuclear FissionFission (splitting) occurs when a heavy nuclear particle is split into smaller nuclei by a smaller nuclear particle (such as a neutron).The splitting of the nuclear particle releases a tremendous amount of energy.The fission reaction, once initiated, is self-perpetuating.The fission process continues and intensifies. The process of intensification is referred to as a chain reaction.

  • Energy Transformation in a Fission ReactionNucear energy heat energy mechanical energy electrical energy

  • Fission Chain Reaction

  • Nuclear Fission

  • Nuclear Fission

  • Nuclear FusionFusion (joining together) results from the combination of two small nuclei to forma larger nucleus with the concurrent release of large amounts of energy.The Sun is a great example of a fusion reactor.In fusion, two isotopes of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) combine to produce helium, a neutron, and energy.

  • Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear FusionNo commercially successful fusion plant exists because of the containment issues.The fusion reaction results in temperatures in the millions of degrees and extremely high pressures. These conditions are necessary to sustain the fusion reaction.

  • Breeder ReactorsA breeder reactor is a variation of a fission reactor that literally manufactures its own fuel from abundant starting materials.Breeder reactors cost a tremendous amount, have considerable potential to damage the environment, and create a lot of plutonium which can be used for nuclear bombs.

  • Breeder Reactors

  • Nuclear Waste DisposalSolid waste is difficult enough to dispose of, but nuclear waste poses even more of a challenge.We cannot alter the rate at which nuclear waste decays. This is determined by the half-life. Plutonium has a half-life greater than 24,000 years and it takes ten half-lives for radiation to reach background levels.

  • Nuclear Waste DisposalWhere can we store hazardous, radioactive material for a quarter of a million years?Burial in a stable bed-rock formation seems like the best option right now, but an earthquake could release this.

  • Nuclear Waste Disposal

  • Nuclear Waste Disposal

  • Radiocarbon DatingNatural radioactivity can be utilized to establish the approximate age of archaeological, anthropological, or historical objects.Radiocarbon dating measures isotopic ratios of carbon to estimate the age of objects.Carbon-14 is formed in the upper atmosphere.

  • Carbon-14 Enters The Food Chain

  • Radiocarbon DatingCarbon-14 (radioactive) and carbon-12 (more abundant) are converted into living plant material through photosynthesis.The carbon-14 works its way into the food chain.

  • Radiocarbon DatingWhen a plant or animal dies, the carbon-14 slowly decreases because it is radioactive and decays to produce nitrogen.When an artifact is found, the relative amounts of carbon-14 to carbon-12 are used to approximate its age.Carbon-14 dating technique is limited to objects that are less than 50,000 years old.

  • Carbon Dating

  • Isotopes Useful In Radioactive Dating

    IsotopeHalf-Life (years)Upper Limit (years)Dating ApplicationsCarbon-1457305X104Charcoal, organic material, artworkTritium12.31X102Aged wines, artworkPotassium-401.3X109Age of earth (4x109)Rocks, planetary materialsRhenium-1874.3x1010Age of earth (4x109)MeteoritesUranium-2384.5x109Age of earth (4x109)Rocks, earths crust

  • Cancer Therapy Using RadiationWhen high energy radiation, such as gamma radiation, passes through a cell, it may collide with one of the molecules in the cell and cause it to lose one or more electrons. This leads to the production of ion pairs. Consequently, this form of radiation is referred to as ionizing radiation.

  • Cancer Therapy Using RadiationThis ions are highly energetic, can damage biological molecules, produce free radicals, and damage DNA.This alters cell function and can even lead to cell death.

  • Cancer Therapy Using RadiationAn organ that is cancerous has both healthy cells and malignant cells.The tumor cells are undergoing cell division more rapidly and are therefore more susceptible to gamma radiation.

  • Cancer Therapy Using RadiationCarefully targeted high doses of gamma radiation will kill more abnormal cells than normal cells.This can destroy the tumor and allow the organ to survive.The gamma radiation can also cause cancer in the healthy cells.

  • Nuclear MedicineMedical tracers are small amounts of radioactive substances used as probes to study internal organs.Medical techniques that utilize tracers are referred to as nuclear imaging procedures.

  • Nuclear MedicineCertain radioactive isotopes are attracted to particular organs. The radioactivity emitted allows us to track the path of the tracer and obtain a picture of the organ of interest.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)MRI is a noninvasive technique used to study the body.It uses no radioactive substances. It is quick, safe, and painless.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)The patient is placed in a cavity surrounded by a magnetic field.An image (based on the extent of radio frequency energy absorption) is generated, stored, and sorted on a computer.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

  • Biological Effects of RadiationRadiation affects biological tissues.We must use suitable precautions when working with radiation.Tolerable levels have been established for radiation exposure.

  • Radiation Exposure and SafetyFactors to consider when working with radioactive materials:The magnitude of the Half-lifeShieldingDistance from the radioactive sourceTime of exposureTypes of radiation emittedWaste disposal

  • Magnitude of the Half-lifeShort half-life radioisotopes produce a larger amount of radioactivity per unit of time than larger half-life substances.Shorter half-life materials can be safer to work with, especially if an accident occurs.

  • Magnitude of the Half-lifeRadioactive isotopes will eventually decay into background radiation. This will happen faster with a shorter half-life.Higher levels of exposure in a short time produce a clearer image.

  • ShieldingAlpha and beta particles are low in penetrating power and therefore require low levels of shielding. A lab coat and gloves are usually sufficient.Gamma rays have significant penetrating power. Lead, concrete, or both are required for shielding from gamma rays.X-rays are also very high energy and require lead


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