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Book 5 Chapter 1: X-rays & Nuclear Radiation

1.1 X-rays

X-ray production

1.2 Nuclear Radiation There may be several isotopes of the same element. Some of these isotopes are stable while others are unstable or radioactive. Radioactive isotopes emit nuclear radiation in the form of rapidly moving particles or high energy electromagnetic waves. The particles are emitted from the nucleus itself and their removal results in changing the atom from one isotope to another. This change may occur once or emission of particles may continue until the atom becomes a stable isotope.

1.3 Detecting Radioactivity


Photographic film a. the radiation affect the film even when wrapped in light-proof paper. b. used in film badges, the extent of blackening of the film shows the level of exposure to nuclear radiation. Diffusion cloud chamber a. enable tracks of radiation to be seen. b. alcohol vapour condenses around the ions, under strong illumination, it reflects light & is revealed as white tracks in a dark background. ( In general, one track corresponds to one charged particle )



Radiation 1. 2. 3.


Explanation Strongest ionization power

Right-angled fork tracks (with helium gas) 1. 1. easily deflected by the air molecules


Spark counter

high ionizing power radiation will produce lots of sparks, e.g. particles, & sources hardly produce any sparks. 4. GeigerMuller Tube (GM tube)

suitable for detecting all three kinds of radiation. 1.4 Properties of Nuclear Radiation Ionizing ability (An outer shell electron is 'knocked out' from the atom, creating an ion pair) Ionizing power Penetrating power radiation is stopped by

_____________________ _________________________________________ radiation is stopped by _____________________ _________________________________________ rays is never ____________________________ _________________________________________

Deflection in magnetic field

Alpha, beta & gamma radiation Property Nature Symbol Charge Speed up to light Source Ionizing ability Penetrating power Effect of electric field Effect of B field Detectors 1. 2. 3. 4. Page 23 Check-point 3 (2-3) 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3. 1 speed of 10 up to light 9 speed of 10 speed of light Cobalt (Co-60) radiation radiation radiation

Americium (Am-241)

Strontium (Sr-90)

1.5 Radiation Hazards Hazards 1. Radiation can destroy or damage living cells. 2. The radiation can change DNA and RNA which control how the cell works. 3. It may lead to cancer or incurable radiation sickness. Safety precautions 1. Store & transport in a suitable lead container. 2. Always lifted with forceps. 3. The open window must be directed away from the body. 4. Never brought close to the eyes for inspection. 5. All storage places should be marked with a warning sign. Background radiation 1. Evidence Without the presence of a radioactive source, a GM counter still counts continuously. 2. Sources

Radiation dose




most susceptible parts of human body to radiation: i. reproductive system ii. immune system iii. eyes Result of over-dose of radiation: 1. Somatic effect - damage of whole organs due to extra high dosage. 2. Cancer 3. Genetic effects - damage of genes & affects the next generations 4. Death - dosage over 5000 mSv. Another danger of radiation is that it is accumulative.

2001-HKCEE-Paper I-Q11 (Book 5 Page 32)