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Radiation Safety Series

Lesson 2
Characteristics of Radiation
Characteristics of Radiation
• Electromagnetic Radiation
• X-Ray and Gamma Ray
• Particle Radiation
Electromagnetic Radiation
Has Definite:
• Wavelength λ
• Frequency F
• Velocity c
c = 2.997x108 m/s
186,000 miles per
Electromagnetic Spectra
Wavelength and Energy
• The energy of
radiation is inversely
proportional to its
• Low frequency, long
wavelength, low
Electromagnetic Spectrum
• All electromagnetic radiation exhibits dual
characteristics. Some times they act like
waves and sometimes they act like particles.
• Waves have discreet packets of energy
known as photons.
• The spectrum has a gradual shift from one
type of radiation to another according to
their photon energy.
Electromagnetic Radiation
• Electromagnetic waves have no mass and
no electrical charge.
• Electromagnetic radiation travels in a
straight line at 186,000 miles per second.
X-rays and Gamma Rays
• In addition to electromagnetic radiation X
and gamma rays penetrate and ionize
• X and gamma rays do not make matter
radioactive in the energy ranges we use.
• They can not be deflected but they can be
• They are not affected by magnetism.
Radiation Characteristics
Electromagnetic Radiation
No Mass
No Electric charge
Travels in a Straight Line
Travels at Speed of Light
Radiation Characteristics
X-Rays and Gamma Rays
Penetrates Matter
Ionizes Matter
Cannot be deflected (can scatter)
Not Affected by magnetic fields
Not Detected by Human Senses
Radiation Characteristics
Alpha, Beta and Neutron
Has Mass
Travels at Sub-Light Speeds
Penetrates Matter Somewhat
Ionizes Matter
Is not Detected by Human Senses
Alpha, Beta and Neutron
• All three are particulate radiation
• They travel at sub-light speed for short
• Each penetrates matter to different degrees
• Alpha and Beta directly ionize matter
• Neutron ionizes matter indirectly
• Neutron will ionize only if the collision is
Type Mass Charge Energy (MeV)
Neutron 1 A.M.U. 0 0 to >20
Alpha 4 A.M.U. +2 4 to 10
Beta 1/1840 +1 0.025 to 3.15
Gamma 0 0 0.04 to 3.2
X-ray 0 0 up to 30
• Radiation and the human body
• Non-ionizing radiation
• Ionizing radiation
- Photoelectric Effect
- Compton Scatter
- Pair Production
Radiation and the Human Body
Non-Ionizing Radiation
Occurs in the Ultraviolet range and lower
• Electrons are bumped to higher energy
levels but do not have enough energy to be
• Molecular vibration contributes to heating
• Molecular rotation and torsion result in
Ionizing Radiation
• Ionization is the ejection
of one or more electrons
from an atom or molecule
• The classification of
“ionizing” is a statement
indicating there is enough
quantum energy to eject Http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu/hbase/mod4.html

one or more electrons

Mechanisms of Interaction
• Photoelectric Effect
• Compton Scattering
• Electron Positron Pair Production
Photoelectric Effect
• Photon is absorbed
and an electron is
• Wave/Particle Duality
• Low energy photons
1- Electron is
dislodged Http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu/hbase/mod1.html
Compton Scattering
• Higher energy photons
relative to those that
cause the photoelectric
effect (Medium energy)
• Conservation of energy
and mass
1- Electron ejected
2- Lower energy wave
emitted Http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu/hbase/mod1.html
Electron Positron Pair Production
• High energy>1.022MeV
• Pair production is the
predominant interaction
of high energy incident
• An electron and positron
are produced
• Positron annihilation
Positron Annihilation
• Positron is the
antiparticle of the
• Identical in mass to
the electron but has a
positive charge
• Two gamma rays
emitted in opposite
Radiation Absorption
Radiation Penetration Power
Neutron Absorption
• Passes through high density material (metal)
• Moderated by low density material (plastic)
• Highly penetrating
• Travels 16 feet before it begins to deacy
• Half life is ~15 minutes
• Speed 2.2 km/s
Gamma Ray Measurement
• The activity of a radioisotope is the number
of disintegrations that occur in a given
radioisotope during a given period of time
• Activity is measured in Curies which is
defined as 3.7 x 1010 disintegrations per
second (Ci)
Fundamental Measures
• Activity – The number of curies for a
radioisotope (Ci)
• Curie – 3.7 x 1010 disintegrations per second
• Half Life – The time it takes to reduce the
activity of a radioisotope to one-half
• Activity decreases over time
• Half-Life is the measure of the period of
time it takes to reduce the activity to one
• Californium 252 effective half-life
2.65 years
• 252
Cf Specific Activity ~20GBq/mg
Specific Activity
• Specific activity is essentially a measure of
of concentration of the activity
• 252Cf Specific Activity ~20GBq/mg
• This is activity per milligram
Works Sited
Partial List:
Radiation Safety Training Series Part 1: Radiation, Rudarmel Enterprises,
inc. Lake Oswego, Oregon