You are on page 1of 30

AIM: How and why does nuclear decay occur?

Do Now:
1) Is nuclear chemistry a natural or human-made process?
a. Natural
b. Human-made
c. Both
• Read Ch.11, and 21 of textbook

• AIS tutoring Thurs 3:40-4:40pm rm 902

• Rough draft due Thurs 1/2

• Lab this week (Tues pd. 3 and 9 or Fri pd. 1 and 7)

• Exam 6 Mon or Tues 1/6 or 7

• Element Senate Presentations start week of 1/6

• How are nuclear reactions different from “regular”
chemical reactions?
Nuclear Reactions
• Unstable nuclei undergo spontaneous changes that
change their number of protons and neutrons.

• A nuclear reaction is a reaction that affects the

nucleus of an atom
• A transmutation is a change in the identity of a
nucleus as a result of a change in the number of its
• Nuclear Chemistry: study of the atomic nucleus,
including fission and fusion reactions as well as their
• Radioisotopes: any unstable isotope with a nucleus that
will undergo radioactive decay
• When the nucleus is unstable it will
decay as an attempt to reach a
more stable configuration…
• Improve the proton:neutron ratio!
• For smaller nuclei, a 1:1 ratio of
protons to neutrons is stable, but as
the nucleus gets larger there must
be more neutrons present to
distribute positive charge of protons
so closer to 1:1.5 ratio
• *see part 1 of wksht 7.1*
Wksht 7.1 part 1
• 1) What particles make up the nucleus?

• 2) What is the charge & function of each particle?

• The stable nuclei cluster over a range of neutron-
proton ratios is referred to as the band of stability.

• Among atoms having low atomic numbers, the most

stable nuclei are those with a neutron-proton ratio of
approximately 1:1( ex 42He)
• As the atomic number increases, the stable neutron-
proton ratio increases to about 1.5:1 (ex 20682Pb)

*Turn to front of wksht 7.1*

Band of Stability
Question 3 to 6 Wksht 7.1
• List three possible isotopes which are stable:

• List three possible isotopes which are unstable:

• Elements above the band of stability have too many

and need to their neutron/proton ratio.

Elements below the band of stability have too many
and need to their neutron/proton ratio.
Nuclear Chemistry
• nuclear binding energy: the energy released when
a nucleus is formed from nucleons.

• The nuclear binding energy is a measure of the

stability of a nucleus
• Elements with intermediate atomic masses have
the greatest binding energies per nucleon and are
therefore the most stable.
Binding Energy Per Nucleon
• In any chemical reaction, mass and charge must be
conserved…nuclear reactions are no different.
• Nuclear reactions deal with changes that occur in the
nucleus. Electrons can be ignored!
• Atomic mass: total number of protons and neutrons
• Atomic number: total number of protons (determines
identification of the element)
• Radioactive decay is the spontaneous disintegration
of a nucleus into a slightly lighter nucleus,
accompanied by emission of particles,
electromagnetic radiation, or both.
• Nuclear radiation is particles or electromagnetic
radiation emitted from the nucleus during radioactive
• An unstable nucleus that undergoes radioactive decay
is a radioactive nuclide.
• All of the nuclides beyond atomic number 83 are
unstable and thus radioactive.
• Alpha Decay (α)
• Emission of a He nucleus (2 protons, 2 neutrons)
• Happens to nuclei with more than 83 protons
• Stopped by the skin, but can be damaging
• Decreases total number of P and N (protons,
• Examples of alpha emitters are radium, radon, thorium,
and uranium. Because alpha particles are charged and
relatively heavy, they interact intensely with atoms in
materials they encounter, giving up their energy over a
very short range. In air, their travel distances are limited
to no more than a few centimeters.
• Alpha particles are easily shielded against and can be
stopped by a single sheet of paper. Since alpha particles
cannot penetrate the dead layer of the skin, they do not
present a hazard from exposure external to the body.
• However, due to the very large number of ionizations
they produce in a very short distance, alpha emitters can
present a serious hazard when they are in close
proximity to cells and tissues such as the lung.
Example (wksht 7.1)
• Radium-222

• Practice: Polonium-208
• Beta Decay (β-)
• Emission of an electron; High neutron to proton ratio;
Able to penetrate human tissue, blocked by aluminum
• A neutron becomes a proton (The atomic number increases
by one and the mass number stays the same)
• Beta particles are much less massive and less charged than
alpha particles and interact less intensely with atoms in the
materials they pass through, which gives them a longer range
than alpha particles. Some energetic beta particles, such as
those from P-32, will travel up to several meters in air or tens
of mm into the skin, while low energy beta particles, such as
those from H-3, are not capable of penetrating the dead layer
of the skin.

• Thin layers of metal or plastic stop beta particles. All beta

emitters, depending on the amount present, can pose a hazard
if inhaled, ingested or absorbed into the body. In addition,
energetic beta emitters are capable of presenting an external
radiation hazard, especially to the skin.
Example (wksht 7.1)
• Carbon-14

• Practice: Iodine-131
• Positron Decay (β+)
• Emission of a positive charge
• Low neutron to proton ratio
• A proton becomes a neutron, atomic number
decreases by one
• Able to penetrate human tissue
Examples (wksht 7.1)
• Magnesium-23

• Practice: Manganese-50
• Electron Capture
• Electron is pulled into the nucleus
• Nucleus has more protons than neutrons
• Electron combines with proton to form a neutron,
atomic number decreases by one
Examples (wksht 7.1)
• Krypton-81

• Practice: Argon-38
• Gamma Decay (γ)
• Emission of a high energy photon, no particle
• Accompanies other types of radiation
• Represents a loss of energy
• Able to penetrate human tissue deeply, block by lead
• Gamma rays () are high-energy electromagnetic
waves emitted from a nucleus as it changes from an
excited state to a ground energy state.
Examples (wksht 7.1)
• Uranium-239

• Practice: Radium-222
Radioactive Nuclide Emissions
• Ex.1) Identify type of decay
87 Rb → 87 Sr + o e
37 38 -1

• Ex.2) Solve for “X”

59 Cu → 59 Ni + X
29 28

• Ex. 3) Write decay equation for Th-232

• Ex.1) Identify type of decay
87 Rb → 87 Sr + o e
37 38 -1
• Ex.2) Solve for “X”
59 Cu → 59 Ni + X
29 28
Positron decay so X = o+1e
• Ex. 3) Write decay equation for Th-232
(see table N) alpha decay
232 Th → 228 Ra + 4 He
90 88 2
Review: worksheet 7-1

*Remember to use Table N and O in

reference table
*Keep track of mass number and atomic
*Numbers should be equal on both sides

Finish rest of 7.1