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Ionising radiation (P2- topic 11) Putting radiation to use
The more ionising a radiation is, the less penetrating it is. Particles that are strongly ionising collide with atoms and
knock off electrons. It means they give up their kinetic energy faster, and so cannot penetrate far into materials.

Ionisation is…

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Radioactivity is completely random and is not affected by chemical bonding or temperature changes. Uranium- 238
decays firstly by alpha. And carbon-14 decays by beta.

Uses of radiation
Smoke detectors

1. A weak source of alpha radiation is placed in the detector, close to two electrodes (americium-241)
2. The alpha…

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Radioactive safety
Outside the body, beta and gamma sources are the most dangerous because they can get inside your body and your
organs but alpha cannot penetrate the skin

Inside the body, alpha sources are the most dangerous because they cannot get out and do damage in a localised

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1. A slow moving neutron is fired at the uranium-235 atom. This neutron is absorbed by the nucleus, this makes
the atom unstable and causes it to split
2. When the uranium-235 splits it forms two new lighter elements (daughter nuclei). There are lots of different
pairs which uranium…

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2. The fission reactions make the fuel rod hot. However a single fuel rod loses neutrons from its edges, so the
fuel rods are put close together in the reactor core. Meaning more neutrons are absorbed; and increasing
the amount of fission reactions. The temperature of the rods is over…

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Scientists have actually had some success with fusion reactors called tokomaks. It takes more power to run than it
produces so it is not yet a viable source of energy, but scientists are working on improvements to fusion.

A tokomak has a doughnut shaped ring of magnets to hold the…

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Aircraft fuelling

1. As fuel flows out of the fuel pipe, the fuel gains electrons from the pipe giving it a (-) charge and the pipe a
(+) charge.
2. The voltage between the pipe and the fuel can easily cause a spark. Which would ignite the fuel and…


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