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12a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i

Chapter 14

Radioactivity

Worksheet

Worked examples

Practical 1: The absorption of -radiation by

aluminium

Practical 2: Simulating the decay of radioactive

nuclei using dice

End-of-chapter test

Marking scheme: Worksheet

Marking scheme: End-of-chapter test

Worksheet

Intermediate level

1

iii

[3]

[1]

What is wrong with the statement below written by a student in his notes?

4

2He

ii

0

1e

electrons of the atoms.

2

3

a

ii

b

[2]

i

[1]

84 Po emits an -particle and changes into an

isotope of lead (Pb).

An isotope of strontium

isotope of yttrium (Y).

90

38 Sr

[2]

[2]

Explain why the nucleon number in your answer to a ii does not change.

[2]

232

90 Th

into an isotope of

radon (Rn), a total of three -particles and two -particles are emitted.

Determine the nucleon number and proton number of the isotope of radon.

[4]

[1]

there are N0 nuclei of this isotope. Determine the number of nuclei of the

isotope left in the sample after a time of:

i

20 minutes;

[1]

ii

1.0 hour.

[2]

The activity of an -source is 540 Bq. The kinetic energy of each -particle is

8.6 1014 J. The isotope in the source has a very long half-life.

a

i

1 second?

[1]

ii

1 hour?

[1]

[3]

[1]

14 Radioactivity

159

Higher level

7 The half-life of the isotope radon-220 is 52 s. Determine:

a

radon-220.

[3]

10

[3]

5.0 109 Bq. Determine:

a

[3]

[3]

[3]

b

[1]

thorium 227

90 Th

12

The isotope of

has a half-life of 18 days. A particular radioactive

source contains 4.0 10 nuclei of the isotope 227

90 Th. Determine:

i

ii

227

90 Th

in s 1;

[3]

[3]

[2]

226

88 Ra.

The half-life of this particular isotope is 1600 years. The molar mass of

radium-226 is 226 g. Determine:

a

88 Ra in the rock sample;

[2]

[3]

Extension

11 Some astronomers believe that our Solar System was formed 5.0 109 y ago.

Assuming that all uranium-238 nuclei were formed before this time, determine

the fraction of uranium-238 nuclei left on the Earth today. The isotope of

9

uranium 238

92 U has a half-life of 4.5 10 y.

[4]

12 A student records the initial count rate from a radioactive sample as 340 counts

per second. The count rate after 26 minutes is 210 counts per second. Determine

the half-life of each nuclide within the radioactive sample.

[7]

Total: Score:

67

160

14 Radioactivity

Worked examples

Example 1

The graph shows the

number N of undecayed

nuclei left in a

radioactive source

after a time t.

N (1010)

12.0

10.0

8.0

6.0

4.0

2.0

0

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

t (min)

From the graph, the half-life t 1/2 is 30 minutes.

The decay constant is given by the relation:

t 1/2 =

undecayed nuclei left in the source is halved.

0.693

Hence:

0.693

t 1/2

0.693

30 60

in s1, the half-life must be converted into seconds.

Example 2

11 1

The isotope of argon 39

s . A sample of rock

18 Ar has a decay constant of 8.3 10

12

39

contains 4.5 10 nuclei of the isotope 18 Ar trapped within it. Determine the

number of nuclei of 39

18 Ar left in the rock after a time of 270 years.

The number N of undecayed nuclei left after a time t is given by the relation:

N = N0 e t

where N0 is the original number of nuclei. Therefore:

N = 4.5 1012 e (8.3 10

11

Tip

N 2.2 1012

The time t must be converted

from years into seconds.

14 Radioactivity

the original number of nuclei. Hence, the

half-life of the isotope 39

18 Ar must be about

270 years.

161

Practical 1

The absorption of -radiation by aluminium

Safety

It is vital that Local Authority regulations on the use of sealed radioactive sources are

adhered to when carrying out the experiment. Always keep the source at a safe distance

by using long tweezers. Never point the source at the eyes or sensitive organs. Teachers

and technicians should follow their school and departmental safety policies and should

ensure that the employers risk assessment has been carried out before undertaking any

practical work.

Apparatus

GM tube

scaler

micrometer

strontium-90 source in a holder

long tweezers

aluminium plates

stopwatch

Introduction

The absorption of different radiations by materials is described in detail on page 142 of

Physics 2. In this experiment you will estimate the thickness of aluminium needed to

stop half of the -particles emitted by a -source. The experimental arrangement is

shown below.

-source

aluminium

Geiger tube

Procedure

in this experiment.

2

3

4

5

Insert the thinnest sheet between the GM tube and the source (see diagram above).

Measure the count for a time of 1 minute.

Calculate the corrected count for this thickness of aluminium sheet:

corrected count = count background count

6 Repeat the measurement and determine the corrected count for different thicknesses

of aluminium sheet. You may use a combination of plates to get different thicknesses.

7 Record your

results in a

table.

x (mm)

Count (min1)

9 Determine the thickness of aluminium for which the count is halved. This is known

as the half-thickness of aluminium.

10 It is suggested that the count should decay exponentially with the thickness x of

the aluminium. Do your results support this?

162

14 Radioactivity

Practical 2

Simulating the decay of radioactive nuclei using dice

Apparatus

about 500 dice (small wooden cubes with one face coloured black)

storage trays (optional)

Introduction

Radioactive decay curves are discussed on page 146 of Physics 2. In this experiment, you

will use dice to represent the radioactive nuclei in a sample. The probability of decay

of each die is 16 . Hence, the decay constant must be 16 per throw. According to the

equation:

0.693

t 1/2 =

t 1/2 =

0.693

4 throws

(1/6)

Procedure

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Share the total number of dice amongst all the students in the group.

Roll all the dice once in the tray.

Remove all the dice that show black because they have decayed.

Determine the total number N of undecayed dice left after the first throw.

Repeat the procedure above for another 10 throws.

Record your results in a table.

Number of throws, n

0

1

2

3

4

etc.

8

9

10

11

Use the graph to determine the half-life.

The graph should show an exponential decay. Does the graph decay exponentially?

How will your graph change if each die used had more than six faces?

This is an ideal experiment for communicating some of the key ideas of radioactive

decay. You have the chance to discuss how this experiment relates to real radioactive

nuclei. It also helps students appreciate the random nature of the decay process and the

importance of half-life.

14 Radioactivity

163

End-of-chapter test

Answer all questions.

of nitrogen (N). Write a nuclear decay equation for this decay.

[2]

8.0 1013 J and the source has an activity of 4.0 109 Bq.

a

How many -particles are emitted from the source in a time of 1 second?

[1]

[2]

[1]

[1]

14

6C

131

53I

is used in hospitals as a tracer to check the

function of the kidneys. Iodine-131 emits -radiation and -radiation. The

half-life of iodine-131 is 8.1 days.

i

[1]

ii

after a time equal to two half-lives of the isotope?

[2]

84 Po has a half-life of 140 days. A radioactive source

has 6.0 1010 nuclei of the isotope 210

84 Po. Determine:

a

1

the decay constant for polonium 210

84 Po in s ;

[3]

[3]

210

84 Po

[3]

Total: Score:

19

164

14 Radioactivity

Marking scheme

Worksheet

1

ii

Electron. [1]

ii

not an orbiting electron. [1]

Has no charge.

Is not affected by electric (or magnetic) fields.

Is a very weak ionising radiation.

Requires several centimetres of lead to be stopped.

Obeys an inverse square law with distance as it spreads out from a source.

i

210

4

84 Po 2He

ii

90

0

90

38 Sr 1e + 39 Y

+ 206

82 Pb [2]

[2]

90

One of the neutrons within the nucleus of 38

Sr changes into a proton, an

1

1

0

electron and a neutrino ( 0n 1 p + 1e + ). [1]

The loss of a neutron and the gain of a proton implies the same total number of

nucleons. [1]

The loss of a single -particle reduces the nucleon number by 4 and reduces the

proton number by 2. [1]

The loss of a single -particle increases the proton number by 1 but the nucleon

number is unchanged. [1]

Hence for the radon nucleus, we have:

A = 232 (3 4) = 220 [1]

Z = 90 (3 2) + (2 1) = 86 [1]

(The nucleus of radon is 220

86 Rn.)

The half-life of a radioactive isotope is the mean time taken for the number of

nuclei of the isotope to decrease to half the initial number. [1]

ii

3

14 Radioactivity

( 12 ) N = N8

0

N0

[1]

2

[1]

165

Activity is equal to the number of emissions per second. Hence, there are

540 -particles emitted in 1 second. [1]

ii

Energy released in 1 s

= number of -particles emitted in 1 s energy of each -particle [1]

energy released in 1 s = 540 8.6 1014 [1]

energy released in 1 s = 4.64 1011 J 4.6 1011 J [1]

Hence, power = 4.6 1011 J s1 = 4.6 1011 W [1]

t 1/2 =

=

b

0.693

[1];

52

0.693

6.0 1010 [1];

52

A = N

=

b

A = N [1]

A=

0.693

0.693

so =

[1]

t 1/2

so

A

[1]

N

5.0 109

[1];

8.0 1014

t1/2 =

0.693

[1]

t1/2 =

0.693

[1];

6.25 10 6

N = N0 et [1]

40 3600)

N = 3.25 10 3.3 10

14

14

[1]

[1]

The decay constant is the probability that an individual nucleus will decay in

1 second. [1]

t1/2 =

=

ii

0.693

so

0.693

[1]

t 1/2

0.693

[1];

18 24 3600

A = N [1]

A = 4.46 107 4.0 1012 [1]

A = 1.78 106 Bq 1.8 106 Bq [1]

2

activity =

166

14 Radioactivity

number of nuclei =

1.0 106

6.02 1023 [1]

226

b

A = N [1]

0.693 2.66 10

( 0.693

) N = 1600

365 24 3600 [1]

t

15

A=

1/2

0.693

11 N = N0 et and = t

[1]

1/2

fraction left =

N

= et = e(0.693t/t

N0

1/2

[1]

9

R = R0 et [1]

210 = 340 e( 26 60) [1]

ln

210

( 340

) = 1560 [1]

= ln

210

( 340

) /1560 = 3.09 10

s1 [1]

t1/2 =

0.693

[1]

t1/2 =

0.693

= 2.24 103 s 2.2 103 s (37 min) [1]

3.09 104

14 Radioactivity

167

Marking scheme

End-of-chapter test

1

2

14

0

14

6 C 1e + 7 N

Hence, there are 4.0 109 -particles emitted in 1 second. [1]

Energy released in 1 s

= number of -particles emitted in 1 s energy of each -particle [1]

[2]

(This value is the power of the source in J s 1.)

The activity of a source is the number of nuclei that disintegrate per second. [1]

i

ii

1

Number of undecayed nuclei left = initial number of nuclei [1]

2

1 2 1

f = 2 = 4 [1]

()

t1/2 =

0.693

so

0.693

[1]

t 1/2

0.693

[1]

140 24 3600

b

A = N [1]

A = 5.73 108 6.0 1010 [1]

A = 3.44 103 Bq 3.4 103 Bq [1]

N = N0 et [1]

N = 6.0 1010 e(5.73 10

N 4.7 10

168

10

50 24 3600)

[1]

[1]

14 Radioactivity

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