Types of Nuclear Radiation

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Types of Nuclear Radiation

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Types of Nuclear Radiation

Foldable Notes


Alpha Particles

1. An alpha particle is a positively charged particle made up of two protons and two neutrons—the same as a helium nucleus.2. The common symbol for an alpha particle is 42He. 3. Another symbol for an alpha particle is the Greek letter α4. It has a 2+ charge

5. In alpha decay, the product isotope has two fewer protons and two fewer neutrons than the reactant isotope.

6. Alpha particles are the least penetrating type of nuclear radiation. Most alpha particles travel no more than a few centimeters in air, and can be stopped by a sheet of paper or by clothing.

7. Can cause a burn but it is not serious unless you eat it or breathe it in.


Beta Particles

1. A beta particle is an electron emitted by an unstable nucleus2. In nuclear equations, a beta particle is written as 0 -1e 3. or β.4. A beta particle has a single negative charge, is assigned an atomic number of -1.

5. In beta decay, the nucleus has one proton more and one neutron fewer than the reactant isotope

6. 6. Beta particles pass through paper, but can be stopped by a thin sheet of metal.

7. Beta particles cause more tissue damage than alpha but lees than gamma



Gamma Radiation


gamma ray is a penetrating ray of energy emitted by an unstable nucleus.2. The symbol for a gamma ray is γ.3. Gamma radiation has no mass and no charge5. During gamma decay, the atomic number and mass number of the atom remain the same, but the energy of the nucleus decreases


It can take several centimeters of lead or several meters of concrete to stop gamma radiation.

6. Gamma

rays are much more penetrating than either alpha particles or beta particles.

7. Causes damage to all of the cells in the body


Concept review questions, page 297

In nuclear decay and atoms of one element can change into a different element.The 3 types of radiation are; alpha, beta, and gamma.Nuclear radiation can ionize atoms, and break apart molecules.Geiger counters and film badges are used to detect radiation.Alpha are +2, beta are -1, and gamma are neutral.6. Alpha are stopped by clothing or paper, beta are stopped by metal foil or wood, Gamma are stopped by thick lead or concrete barriers.

7. Background radiation is natural in the environment, it comes from rocks, minerals and outer space.

8. In Beta decay the nucleus has one less neutron and one more proton and electron.

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