P6 - OCR Additional Science PHYSICS

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P6 Radioactive Materials


Atoms and Elements


The nucleus is made up of PROTONS and NEUTRONS.

An atom always has the same number of protons, but it doesn’t always have the same number of neutrons these are called isotopes


Ionising Radiation


There are three types of ionising radiation;





They emit these radiations because of radioactive decay; this takes places because an atom is unstable.


Alpha decay

It emits a helium atom made up of 2 protons and 2 neutrons.

Beta decay

It’s where the atom changes neutron into a proton and an electron, this electron ejects from the nucleus – this is the beta radiation

Gamma decay

After alpha or beta decay, a nucleus sometimes contains surplus energy. It emits this as gamma radiation. During gamma decay only energy is emitted. This decay doesn’t change the type of atom.


Background Radiation


If a person is exposed to radiation they known as irradiated, if radioactive material is on their skin, body or clothes they are contaminated.


Dangers of Radiation


Alpha is the most dangerous if the source is inside the body, as it can be absorbed


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