alpha beta and gamma radiation

  • Created by: sofia84
  • Created on: 21-10-18 10:43
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  • alpha, beta and gamma radiation
    • alpha emission
      • Where two protons and two neutrons leave the nucleus at a high speed
      • alpha particles
        • when an alpha particle is emitted the atomic number drops by two and the mass number by four
          • this changes the nucleus into the nucleus of another element
        • due to their high speed and high mass gives them high kinetic energy
          • because of their high energy they can knock electrons orbiting atoms out of place which makes the atoms become charged/ ionised
            • being ionised makes them dangerous if they get into the human body as they can damage DNA this can lead to cancer
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      • because they are powerfully ionising they cant travel very far and can be stopped by a sheet of paper or outer layer of human skin
        • only dangerous if they are swallowed or inhaled
        • low penetrating power
    • Beta emission
      • beta minus
        • emits a highly energetic electron with -1 charge
          • atomic number of isotope/ atom increases by one
        • occurs in nuclei that have too many neutrons to be stable
          • neutron is turned into proton through emission of an electron
      • beta plus
        • emits energetic positron with +1 charge
        • occurs in nuclei that have too many protons  to be stable
        • proton turned into neutron through emission of a positron
        • atomic number decreases by one
      • less energetic than alpha decay
        • so less ionising and less dangerous
      • can go through paper but is stopped by 3-5 mm of Al
      • leaves the mass number of isotope / atom unchanged , atomic no depends if its beta plus or beta minus
    • Gamma Emission
      • least energetic of the radiation
      • waves have no mass so atomic number and mass number do not change
        • the only change after gamma decay is that the nuclei is less energetic than before
          • therefore normally occurs after alpha or beta decay which leave the nucleus unstable and excited state
      • not affected by magnetic fields
      • not ionising as they have little energy however highly penetrating can go through sheets of lead
      • less damage to cells than alpha and beta


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