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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

1. (a) (i) Describe, with the aid of a labelled diagram, the results of Rutherford’s
alpha particle scattering experiment.

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(ii) Explain how these results reveal the structure of the atom.

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(b) Complete the diagram below to illustrate the paths of the alpha particles beyond the gold
nucleus.

α
α

Gold
nucleus

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Total 9 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
2. The diagram below shows an alpha particle about to make a head on collision with a gold
nucleus.
Gold
α nucleus

(a) If the alpha particle has an initial kinetic energy of 3.6 × 10 -21J, and a distance of closest
approach to the gold nucleus of 10 -5m, calculate the number of protons in the gold nucleus.
(α particle charge = 3.2 × 10 -19 C, proton charge = 1. 6 × 10 -19C, ε ο =8.9 × 10 -12Fm-
1
)

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(b) Sketch graphs on the axis below to show how the potential energy, kinetic energy and total
energy of the alpha particle varies as it moves towards the gold nucleus. Label the graphs
KE, PE, E respectively. No numerical labelling is required.

energy

10 -5 m distance from gold


(closest approach) nucleus [3]

(c) Determine the speed of the alpha particle when it is 10 -4m from the gold
nucleus. (alpha particle mass = 6.4 × 10 -27kg)

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

Total 12 marks

3. (a) Draw a labelled diagram of the essential components of the apparatus used in
Rutherford’s alpha particle scattering experiment.

[4]

(b) In this experiment the majority of alpha particles suffer no deflection, some are deflected
through small angles and very few are strongly deflected.
How do these results undermine J.J. Thompson’s plum pudding model of the atom?

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Total 7 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

4. (a) Illustrate with labelled diagrams the models of the atom proposed by Rutherford and
Thompson.

[5]

(b)If the Thompson’s model were correct, describe, with the aid of a labelled diagram, the
results that Rutherford would have observed in his classic alpha particle scattering
experiment.

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[4]

Total 9 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
5. The nuclear equation shown below represents the decay of uranium to thorium.
238 234 y
U Th + X + Q
92 90 z

(a) Determine the values of y and z

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(b) Identify the particle X

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(c)Q represents the energy released in this reaction. Which two forms does this energy take?

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(d)The thorium also decays by β - emission forming an isotope of palladium (Pa). Write the
nuclear equation for this decay.

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Total 7 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
6. (a) Sketch a graph of binding energy per nucleon against mass number for nuclei of mass
number up to 240.

Binding energy
per nucleon

40 80 120 160 200 240 200


240 Mass number
[2]

(b) Indicate on your graph the positions of the elements Hydrogen, Iron and Uranium.
[3]

(c) Making reference to your graph, explain the terms nuclear fusion and nuclear
fission.

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Total 9 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

7. The nuclear equation shown below represents the decay of radium to radon with the release of
energy.
226 222 4
Ra Rn + He + energy
88 86 2

In answering this question the following data may be useful


Masses: Ra 226 = 226.025u Rn 222 = 222.01761u
He4 = 4.002603u 1u = 1.661 × 10 -27kg
Neutron = 1.008605u Proton = 1.007276u

c = 3.0 × 10 8ms –1

(a) Show, by appropriate calculations, that radon is more stable than radium.

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(b) Calculate the mass defect, in kg, for this reaction.

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

(c) Calculate the energy released in this reaction.

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Total 9 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

8. The diagram below illustrates the main components of a thermal reactor.

iii)
i)

iv)

v)

vi)

ii)

(a) Add appropriate labels to the boxes (i) to (vi)


[6]

(b) Explain the purposes of the components labelled (iii) & (vi)

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(c) Suggest a suitable radioactive source for this reactor

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

8. (d) Suggest two advantages and two disadvantages of the use of thermal nuclear reactors rather
than fossil fuels to generate electricity.

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Total 15 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

top number
9. 238 235
U and U are radioactive isotopes of Uranium.
bottom number 92 92

(a) State the correct terms, and meanings of, the 'top number' and 'bottom number'.

top number:.................................................................................................................................

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bottom number:..........................................................................................................................

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(b) Explain the meaning of the term 'isotope'.

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(c) Which of the two isotopes is the most stable? Justify your answer with relevant calculations.

Masses: U238 = 238.05082u U235 = 235.04394u


Neutron = 1.008605u Proton = 1.007276u
1u = 1.661 × 10 -27kg

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

9. (d) Write down a balanced nuclear equation for the alpha decay of Ra to Rn

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Total 13 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
10.(a) The binding energy per nucleon of a nucleus is determined from its mass defect and is a
measure of the stability of the nucleus. Explain the meanings of the terms in bold.

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(b) This is the equation for a decay reaction of thorium:
228 224 4
Th Ra + He
90 88 2

Masses: Th238 = 228.02873u Ra 234 = 224.02020u


He4 = 4.002603u 1u = 1.661× 10 -27kg
c = 3.0 × 10 8ms-1

(i)
Calculate the mass defect, in kg, for this the reaction.

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(ii) Calculate the energy released, in joules, for each disintegration of a thorium nucleus.

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(iii) Calculate the minimum mass of a thorium sample that could release 10000MJ of
energy. (ignoring energy released by further decay processes)

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
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Total 11 marks

11.(a) A radioactive source is thought to emit alpha, beta and gamma radiation.
With the aid of a labelled diagram, explain how this could be confirmed by an absorption
experiment that can be carried out in a school laboratory.

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(b) List alpha, beta and gamma radiation, of similar energy, in ascending order of:

(i) Ionising ability (ion pairs created per mm in air)

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(ii) Range in air

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(iii) Mass

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(iv) Speed

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
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Total 10 marks

12. The diagram below (not to scale) illustrates the paths of beta minus and gamma radiation
through a uniform magnetic field.

3 cm

(a) Label the paths in the diagram as either β or γ radiation


[1]

(b) Explain how you identified each type of radiation.

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(c) Add the path of an alpha particle, of similar energy, to the diagram
[2]

(d)Sketch a diagram of the paths of the three types of radiation through the air in the absence of
electric or magnetic fields

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
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Total 8 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
13. The half life of a sample of radioactive material is related to its decay constant by the equation:
ln 2
T1/2 =
λ

(a) Explain the meaning of the symbols:


(i) T1/2

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(ii) λ

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(b)A sample of 24Na has a half-life of 234 hours.


(i) Calculate the radioactive decay constant for 24Na

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(ii) How much time elapses before a 5µ g sample of pure radioactive Na contains 1µ g of
undecayed 24Na atoms?

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(iii) How many disintegrations of 24Na occur in this time?
(Avogadro’s number=6.02 × 1023)

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
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Total 10 marks

14.(a) Sketch a diagram of the apparatus that could be used in a school laboratory
to determine the half-life of a radioactive sample. The sample is thought to emit
β radiation only, with a half-life of about one minute.

[3]

(b) State the measurements that are required to accurately determine the half-life.

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(c) Explain how the measurements would be used to determine the half-life for the sample.

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
14.(d) The following apparatus is used to measure radiation with a moving detector:
Source Detector
1m initially
Movement

(i) The source is a gamma emitter with an initial activity of 1600Bq and a half-life of
5000s. The detector moves away from the source with a speed of 1ms-1. Sketch a graph
of count rate against time for the first five seconds of the motion. Label the graph with
three values of count rate.
count rate/Bq

[4]
0 1 2 3 4 5
(ii) On the same axis sketch the graph that would havetime/s
been obtained for a sample with a
half-life of 1s. Label this graph B.
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Total 13 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

15. The table below shows how the activity of a radioactive sample reduces with time.

Time / s Activity / s-1 ln (activity)


0 10000
2 9912
4 9825
6 9738
8 9647
10 9550
12 9400
14 9350

(a) Complete the third column and plot the relevant straight-line graph that will allow you to
determine the half-life of the sample.

[5]

(b) Explain clearly how, and why, this graph can be used to determine half-life of the sample,
λ
given that A = A0 e - t.

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

15. (c) Using the graph, calculate the decay constant and hence half-life of the sample.

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Total 11 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

16. Here are two 'family trees' of some of the sub-nuclear particles:

Hadrons

electron
proton

Kaon

(a) Fill in the blank boxes to show the other main types of particle and give examples in the
lowest boxes.
[6]

(b) According to Gell-Mann's theory, hadrons are made of more fundamental particles called
quarks. Two types ('flavours') of quark are:

Quark Charge (e)


up + 2/3
down - 1/3

Show how groups of three of these quarks can form:

(i) A proton

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(ii) A neutron

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

16.(c) Other hadrons are formed from two quarks. How is it possible for a particle made of two
quarks to have a total charge of +1?

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(d) Name one other 'flavour' of quark.

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Total 11 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
17. In reactions between sub-nuclear particles, various numbers have been found to be conserved
(i.e. unchanged throughout a reaction).

(a) State whether or not the following numbers are conserved:

N Conserved
u (Yes / No)
m
b
er
B
ar
y
o
n
M
e
s
o
n
L
e
pt
o
n
[3]

(b) The following decay is observed to occur:

p n + β +
+ ν e

(i) State this equation in words:

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(ii) State three conservation laws that this decay demonstrates.

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(c) This reaction cannot occur:

p + e n + ν e
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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions

Which conservation law does it break?

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Total 9 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
18. Physicists are attempting to find a unified theory of the fundamental forces of nature.

(a) Name the four forces involved.

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(b)State the force involved in:


(i) holding quarks together in a proton.

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(ii) β decay of a proton.

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(iii) α particle scattering by a nucleus.

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(c) These forces are described by the exchange of particles. Name two of the exchange particles
involved in the situations listed in b).

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Total 9 marks

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AS level Physics Nuclear & Particle Physics Questions
19. A bubble chamber is used to observe the tracks of particles formed by collision reactions. A
researcher drew the following sketch from a bubble chamber photograph.

There is a magnetic field acting downwards into the plane of the diagram.

The reactions that took place were:

p n + β +
+ ν e followed by: n p + β -
+ ν e

(a) Label each of the tracks in the boxes on the sketch with the symbol of the particle it
represents.
[5]

(b)Explain why some of the particle tracks are shown as dashed lines.

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Total 8 marks

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