-radiation.Later,Rutherfordconclusivelyproved, by spectroscopic measurements, that
-particles were doubly charged helium ions.
Observation of emanations from thorium salts and compounds of radium, ledRutherford and Soddy to conclude (i) a radioactive element undergoes transformation andan atom of a new element is formed, (ii) the radiations are accompaniment of these changesand (iii) radioactive process causes a subatomic change within the atom. These conclusionswere drawn when the existence of nucleus was not known, neutron was not discovered,isotope concept was not proposed and the source of energy of the emitted radiations was a big puzzle!!
Radioactive Decay Law
In 1902, Rutherford and Soddy proposed the theory of radioactive disintegration.Theyproposedthat“thedisintegrationoftheatomandexpulsionofachargedparticleleaves behind a new system lighter than before and possessing physical and chemical propertiesquite different from those of the original parent element. The disintegration process, oncestarts, proceeds from state to state with measurable velocities in each case”. This wouldmeanthattherateofdecayofanactivespeciesinunittimeisproportionaltothetotalnumber of atoms of that species present at that time. Rate of disintegration (-dN/dt) continuouslychanges as the number of atoms (N) are changing (decreasing).
is a proportionality constant known as the decay constant. Solving eqn. 1.1, oneobtains N = N0e
t)(DetailsaregiveninChapter4).Itmaybenotedthattheobservableis the radioactivity, rather than number of atoms. Radioactivity is the product of number of atoms (N) and the decay constant (
When a radioactive atom (parent) decays, it transforms into another atom of adifferentelement(exceptin
Nis formed, which is stable. In this case,
C decays exponentially and
N growsexponentially with time. On the other hand, there are many cases where the product
2 Fundamentals of Radiochemistry