Physics P4

  • Created by: wotuwant
  • Created on: 03-04-15 19:29

Charge in Circuits

Charge Flows around a Circuit
1) Current -  the flow of electrical charge aound a circuit, measured in amps, A. More charge passes around a circuit when a higher current flows.
2) Voltage - is the driving force that pushes the current round, measured in volts, V.
3) Reistance - is anything in the circuit which slows the flow down. Reistance is meansured is ohms
4) There's a balance, the voltage is trying to push the current roudn the circuit, and the resistance is opposing it.

If you increase the voltage - the more current will flow.
If you increase the reistance - then less current will flow

If you break the circuit, the current stops flowing. Current oly flows in a circuit as long as there's a complete loop for it to flow around. Wire fuses and circuit breakers are safety features which cut off a circuit.

1 of 11

Plugs and Fuses

Live Wire - brown, carries the voltage
Neutral Wire - blue, completes the circuit, electricity flows in through the live and out through the neutral.
Earth Wire - blue and yellow, this and the fuse are for saftety.

a) Earthing and Fuses prevent fires and shocks
b) if a surge occurs the current blows the fuse and causes the wire inside the fuse to melt. This cuts off the live supply because it breaks the circuit.
c) This isolates the whole appliance, making it impossible to get an electric shock from the case.
d) it also stops overheating, which could cause a fire.

Formula for electric power: Power = Voltage x current

2 of 11


A resistor is a component that reduces the current flowing in a circuit.

Variable Resitors 1) A variable reistor is a resistor whose reistance can be chagned.
2) They're great for altering the current flowing through a circuit.
Higher resistance - current drops
Lower resistance - higher current
3) The thicker a wire the less resistance

Calculating Resistance
Resistance = voltage / current

You can use a test circuit to measure resistance

3 of 11

Radioactive Decay

Unstable Nucleus1) Radioactive materials are made up of atoms with unstable nuclei that naturally decay at random.
2) As they decay, they give out 3 forms of radiation, alpha, beta and gamma.
3) Gamma radiation happens after a and b emission if the nuclues has some extra energy to get rid of.
Alpha radiation is a  helium nucleus
1) An alpha particle is a helium nucleus, mass 4 and charge of +2, made up of two protons and two neutrons.

Beta radiation is a fast moving electron
A beta particle is a fast-moving electron, with virtually no mass and a charge of -1

4 of 11

Radioactivity and Half Life

Radioactivitya) Each time an unstable nucleus decays and emits radiation
b) As more unstable nuclei decay, the radioactivity of the source as a whole decreases as a whole drecreases, the older a radioactive source is the less radiation ist emits
c) The time taken for radioactive decay varies between hours and millions of years

Half-Life: Half-Life is the time taken for half of the radioactive nuclei now present ot decay.

A short half means the activity falls quickly, because lots of the nuclei decay in a short time.

A long half-life eans the activity falls more slowly because most of the nuclei don't decay for a long time

5 of 11

Uses of Radiation and Background Radiation

Finding Leaks with Tracers
1) Radioactive isotopes can be used to track the movement of waste materials, find the route of underground pipe systems or detect leaks or blockages in pipes.
2) To check a pipe, insert the radioactive isotope, go along the outside of the pipe with a detector if the reading changes it could be a leak or blockage.

Smoke Detectors
1) A weak alpha radioactive source is placed in the detecor, close to two electrodes, this source causes ionisation of the air particles which allows a current to flow.
2) If there is a fire, then soke particles are hit by the alpha particles instead
3) This causes less ionisation of the air particles, so the current is reduced causing the alarm to sound.

Background radiation comes from many sources such as natural ones, air, food, building materials and in the rocks under our feet. Radiation can  come from space known as cosmic rays and also human activity such as waste from hospitals and industry.

6 of 11

Radioactive Dating

When organisms die they stop exchanging gases with the air outside and the carbon-14 is trapped inside, and it gradually decays with a half-life of 5730 years. By measuring the proportion of carbon-14 found in some old axe handle, burial shroud, etc, you can calculate how long ago the item was living material using the known half-life.

Dating Rocks
1) Uranium isotopes have very long half-lives and decay via a series of short lived particles to produce stable isotopes of lead.
2) The relative proportions of uranium and ead isotopes in a smaple of rock can therefore be used to date the rock, using the known half-life of the uranium.

7 of 11

Nuclear Power

Nuclear Fission - Splitting up of uraniu atoms
1) Nuclear power stations are powered by nuclear reactors
2) In a nuclear reactor, a controlled chain reaction takes place in which uranium or plutonum atoms split up and release enerrgy in the form of heat, this is nuclear fission.
3) This heat is then used to heat water to produce steam
4) The steam turns a turbine which drives a generator that produces electricity.

- The splitting of uranium-235 needs neutrons

-You can split more than one atom chain reactions

-Control rods control the chain reaction

8 of 11

Nuclear Fusion

Nuclear Fusion - the joining of small atomic nuclei
1) Nuclear fusion is the opposite of nuclear fission
2) In nuclear fusion, two light nuclei combine to create a larger nucleus
3) Fusion releases a lot of energy, more than fission
4) Fusion doesn't leave behind much radioactive waste and there's plenty of hyfrogen about to use as fuel.
5) The biggest problems is that fusion only happens at really high presures and temperatures and it requires alot of energy to get these conditions.

9 of 11

Nuclear Fission


10 of 11

Nuclear Fission

Heavy nuclei have a large number of neutrons compared to protons making them unstable and they can break apart, this is nuclear fission. This releases energy, the heat released on a large scale in the form of heat to produce electricity (nuclear power). 

11 of 11


No comments have yet been made

Similar Physics resources:

See all Physics resources »See all Medical Physics resources »