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Atomic&NuclearStructure

Youwillhaveencounteredmuchofwhatwewillcoverhereinyourhighschoolphysics.Wearegoingtoreviewthismaterial

againbelowsoastosetthecontextforsubsequentchapters.Thischapterwillalsoprovideyouwithanopportunitytocheck

yourunderstandingofthistopic.

Thechaptercoversatomicstructure,nuclearstructure,theclassificationofnuclei,bindingenergyandnuclearstability.

AtomicStructure

Theatomisconsideredtobethebasicbuildingblockofallmatter.Simpleatomictheorytellsusthatitconsistsoftwo

components:anucleussurroundedbyanelectroncloud.Thesituationcanbeconsideredasbeingsimilarinsomerespectsto

planetsorbitingthesun.

Fromanelectricalpointofview,thenucleusissaidtobepositivelychargedandtheelectronsnegativelycharged.

Fromasizepointofview,theradiusofanatomisabout10 ­ 1 0

Fromasizepointofview,theradiusofanatomisabout10 ­10 mwhiletheradiusofanucleusisabout10 ­14 m,i.e.abouttenthousandtimessmaller.The situationcouldbeviewedassomethinglikeacricketball,representingthenucleus,inthemiddleofasportingarenawiththeelectronsorbitingsomewhere aroundwherethespectatorswouldsit.Thisperspectivetellsusthattheatomshouldbecomposedmainlyofemptyspace.However,thesituationisfarmore complexthanthissimplepictureportraysinthatwemustalsotakeintoaccountthephysicalforceswhichbindtheatomtogether.

Chemicalphenomenacanbethoughtofasinteractionsbetweentheelectronsofindividualatoms.Radioactivityontheotherhandcanbethoughtofas

changeswhichoccurwithinthenucleiofatoms.

TheNucleus

Asimpledescriptionofthenucleustellsusthatitiscomposedofprotonsandneutrons.Thesetwoparticletypesarecollectivelycallednucleons,i.e.particles

whichinhabitthenucleus.

Fromamasspointofviewthemassofaprotonisroughlyequaltothemassofaneutronandeachoftheseisabout2,000timesthemassofanelectron.So

mostofthemassofanatomisconcentratedinthesmallregionatitscore.

Fromanelectricalpointofviewtheprotonispositivelychargedandtheneutronhasnocharge.Anatomallonitsown(ifthatwerepossibletoachieve!)is

electricallyneutral.Thenumberofprotonsinthenucleusofsuchanatommustthereforeequalthenumberofelectronsorbitingthatatom.

ClassificationofNuclei

ThetermAtomicNumberisdefinedinnuclearphysicsasthenumberofprotonsinanucleusandisgiventhesymbolZ.Fromyourchemistryyouwill

rememberthatthisnumberalsodefinesthepositionofanelementinthePeriodicTableofElements.

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ThetermMassNumberisdefinedasthenumberofnucleonsinanucleus,thatisthenumberofprotonsplusthenumberofneutrons,andisgiventhe

symbolA.

Notethatthesymbolshereareabitodd,inthatitwouldpreventsomeconfusioniftheAtomicNumberweregiventhesymbolA,andtheMassNumberwere

givenanothersymbol,suchasM,butitsnotasimpleworld!

Itispossiblefornucleiofagivenelementtohavethesamenumberofprotonsbutdifferingnumbersofneutrons,thatistohavethesameAtomicNumberbut

differentMassNumbers.SuchnucleiarereferredtoasIsotopes.Allelementshaveisotopesandthenumberrangesfromthreeforhydrogentoover30for

elementssuchascaesiumandbarium.

ChemistryhasarelativelysimplewayofclassifyingthedifferentelementsbytheuseofsymbolssuchasHforhydrogen,Heforheliumandsoon.The

classificationschemeusedtoidentifydifferentisotopesisbasedonthisapproachwiththeuseofasuperscriptbeforethechemicalsymboltodenotetheMass

NumberalongwithasubscriptbeforethechemicalsymboltodenotetheAtomicNumber.Inotherwordsanisotopeisidentifiedas:

whereXisthechemicalsymboloftheelement;Aisthe"MassNumber,"(protons+neutrons);Zisthe"AtomicNumber,"(numberidentifyingtheelementon

theperiodicchart).

Letustakethecaseofhydrogenasanexample.Ithasthreeisotopes:

themostcommononeconsistingofasingleprotonorbitedbyoneelectron,Letustakethecaseof hydrogen asanexample.Ithasthreeisotopes:

asecondisotopeconsistingofanucleuscontainingaprotonandaneutronorbitedbyoneelectron,

athirdwhosenucleusconsistsofoneprotonandtwoneutrons,againorbitedbyasingleelectron.

Asimpleillustrationoftheseisotopesisshownbelow.Rememberthoughthatthisisasimplifiedillustrationgivenwhatwenotedearlieraboutthesizeofa

nucleuscomparedwiththatofanatom.Buttheillustrationisneverthelessusefulforshowinghowisotopesareclassified.

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ThefirstisotopecommonlycalledhydrogenhasaMassNumberof1,anAtomicNumberof1andhenceisidentifiedas:

ThesecondisotopecommonlycalleddeuteriumhasaMassNumberof2,anAtomicNumberof1andisidentifiedas:

Thethirdisotopecommonlycalledtritiumisidentifiedas:

Thesameclassificationschemeisusedforallisotopes.Forexample,youshouldnowbeabletofigureoutthattheuraniumisotope, ,contains92protons

and144neutrons.

AfinalpointonclassificationisthatwecanalsorefertoindividualisotopesbygivingthenameoftheelementfollowedbytheMassNumber.Forexample,we canrefertodeuteriumashydrogen­2andwecanreferto asuranium­236.

Beforeweleavethisclassificationschemeletusfurtherconsiderthedifferencebetweenchemistryandnuclearphysics.Youwillrememberthatthewater

moleculeismadeupoftwohydrogenatomsbondedwithanoxygenatom.Theoreticallyifweweretocombineatomsofhydrogenandoxygeninthismanner

many,manyofbillionsoftimeswecouldmakeaglassofwater.Wecouldalsomakeourglassofwaterusingdeuteriuminsteadofhydrogen.Thissecond

glassofwaterwouldtheoreticallybeverysimilarfromachemicalperspective.However,fromaphysicsperspectiveoursecondglasswouldbeheavierthanthe

firstsinceeachdeuteriumnucleusisabouttwicethemassofeachhydrogennucleus.Indeedwatermadeinthisfashioniscalledheavywater.

AtomicMassUnit

Themassesoftheproton,m p andneutron,m n onthisbasisare:

and

whilethatoftheelectronisjust0.00055amu.

BindingEnergy

m p =1.00783amu

m n =1.00866amu

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Wearenowinapositiontoconsiderthesubjectofnuclearstability.Fromwhatwehavecoveredsofar,wehaveseenthatthenucleusisatinyregioninthe

centreofanatomandthatitiscomposedofneutrallyandpositivelychargedparticles.So,inalargenucleussuchasthatofuranium(Z=92)wehavealarge

numberofpositivelychargedprotonsconcentratedintoatinyregioninthecentreoftheatom.Anobviousquestionwhicharisesisthatwithallthesepositive

chargesincloseproximity,whydoesn'tthenucleusflyapart?Howcananucleusremainasanentitywithsuchelectrostaticrepulsionbetweenthe

components?Shouldtheorbitingnegatively­chargedelectronsnotattracttheprotonsawayfromtheatomscentre?

Letustakethecaseofthehelium­4nucleusasanexample.Thisnucleuscontainstwoprotonsandtwoneutronssothatintermsofamuwecanfigureout

fromwhatwecoveredearlierthatthe

andthe

massof2protons=2.01566amu,

massof2neutrons=2.01732amu.

Thereforewewouldexpectthetotalmassofthenucleustobe4.03298amu.

Theexperimentallydeterminedmassofahelium­4nucleusisabitless­just4.00260amu.Inotherwordsthereisadifferenceof0.03038amubetweenwhat

wemightexpectasthemassofthisnucleusandwhatweactuallymeasure.Youmightthinkofthisdifferenceasverysmallatjust0.75%.Butrememberthat

sincethemassofoneelectronis0.00055amuthedifferenceisactuallyequivalenttothemassofabout55electrons.Thereforeitissignificantenoughto

wonderabout.

Itispossibletoconsiderthatthismissingmassisconvertedtoenergywhichisusedtoholdthenucleustogether;itisconvertedtoaformofenergycalled

BindingEnergy.Youcouldsay,aswithallrelationships,energymustbeexpendedinordertomaintainthem!

Likethegramintermsofthemassofnuclei,thecommonunitofenergy,thejouleisrathercumbersomewhenweconsidertheenergyneededtobinda

nucleustogether.Theunitusedtoexpressenergiesontheatomicscaleistheelectronvolt,symbol:eV.

Oneelectronvoltisdefinedastheamountofenergygainedbyanelectronasitfallsthroughapotentialdifferenceofonevolt.Thisdefinitiononitsownisnot

ofgreathelptoushereanditisstatedpurelyforthesakeofcompleteness.Sodonotworryaboutitforthetimebeing.Justappreciatethatitisaunit

representingatinyamountofenergywhichisusefulontheatomicscale.Itisabittoosmallinthecaseofbindingenergieshoweverandthemega­electron

volt(MeV)isoftenused.

AlbertEinsteinintroducedustotheequivalenceofmass,m,andenergy,E,attheatomiclevelusingthefollowingequation:

wherecisthevelocityoflight.

E=mc 2 ,

Itispossibletoshowthat1amuisequivalentto931.48MeV.Therefore,themassdifferencewediscussedearlierbetweentheexpectedandmeasuredmass

ofthehelium­4nucleusof0.03038amuisequivalenttoabout28MeV.Thisrepresentsabout7MeVforeachofthefournucleonscontainedinthenucleus.

NuclearStability

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Inmoststableisotopesthebindingenergypernucleonliesbetween7and9MeV.Therearetwocompetingforcesinthenuclei,electrostaticrepulsion

betweenprotonsandtheattractivenuclearforcebetweennucleons(protonsandneutrons).Theelectrostaticforceisalongrangeforcethatbecomesmore difficulttocompensateforasmoreprotonsareaddedtothenucleus.Thenuclearforce,whicharisesastheresidualstrongforce(thestrongforcebindsthe

quarkstogetherwithinanucleon),isashortrangeforcethatonlyoperatesonaveryshortdistancescale(~1.5fm)asitarisesfromaYukawapotential.

(Electromagnetismisalongrangeforceastheforcecarrier,thephoton,ismassless;thenuclearforceisashortrangeforceastheforcecarrier,thepion,is massive).Therefore,largernucleitendtobelessstable,andrequirealargerratioofneutronstoprotons(whichcontributetotheattractivestrongforce,but

notthelong­rangeelectrostaticrepulsion).ForthelowZnuclidestheratioofneutronstoprotonsisapproximately1,thoughitgraduallyincreasestoabout1.5

forthehigherZnuclidesasshownbelowontheNuclearStabilityCurve.

Inotherwordstocombattheeffectoftheincreaseinelectrostaticrepulsionwhenthenumberofprotonsincreases

thenumberofneutronsmustincreasemorerapidlytocontributesufficientenergytobindthenucleustogether.

AswenotedearlierthereareanumberofisotopesforeachelementofthePeriodicTable.Ithasbeenfoundthat

themoststableisotopeforeachelementhasaspecificnumberofneutronsinitsnucleus.Plottingagraphofthe

numberofprotonsagainstthenumberofneutronsforthesestableisotopesgenerateswhatiscalledtheNuclear

StabilityCurve:

Notethatthenumberofprotonsequalsthenumberofneutronsforsmallnuclei.Butnoticealsothatthenumberof

neutronsincreasesmorerapidlythanthenumberofprotonsasthesizeofthenucleusgetsbiggersoasto

maintainthestabilityofthenucleus.Inotherwordsmoreneutronsneedtobetheretocontributetothebinding

energyusedtocounteracttheelectrostaticrepulsionbetweentheprotons.

Thenuclearstabilitycurve.

Thenuclearstabilitycurve.

Radioactivity

Thereareabout2,450knownisotopesoftheapproximatelyonehundredelementsinthePeriodicTable.Youcanimaginethesizeofatableofisotopes

relativetothatofthePeriodicTable!TheunstableisotopeslieaboveorbelowtheNuclearStabilityCurve.Theseunstableisotopesattempttoreachthe

stabilitycurvebysplittingintofragments,inaprocesscalledFission,orbyemittingparticlesand/orenergyintheformofradiation.Thislatterprocessis

calledRadioactivity.

Itisusefultodwellforafewmomentsonthetermradioactivity.Forexamplewhathasnuclearstabilitytodowithradio?Fromahistoricalperspective

relatedtoanotherphenomenonwhichalsowasnotwellunderstoodatthetime­thatofradiocommunication.Itseemsreasonableonthisbasistoappreciate

thatsomepeopleconsideredthatthetwophenomenaweresomehowrelatedandhencethatthematerialswhichemittedradiationweretermedradio­active.

Weknowtodaythatthetwophenomenaarenotdirectlyrelatedbutweneverthelessholdontothetermradioactivityforhistoricalpurposes.Butitshouldbe

quitecleartoyouhavingreachedthisstageofthischapterthatthetermradioactivereferstotheemissionofparticlesand/orenergyfromunstableisotopes.

Unstableisotopesforinstancethosethathavetoomanyprotonstoremainastableentityarecalledradioactiveisotopes­andcalledradioisotopesfor

short.Thetermradionuclideisalsosometimesused.

Finallyabout300ofthe2,450­oddisotopesmentionedabovearefoundinnature.Therestareman­made,thatistheyareproducedartificially.These2,150or

soartificialisotopeshavebeenmadeduringthelast100yearsorsowithmosthavingbeenmadesincethesecondworldwar.

Wewillreturntotheproductionofradioisotopesinalaterchapterofthiswikibookandwillproceedforthetimebeingwithadescriptionofthetypesof

radiationemittedbyradioisotopes.

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MultipleChoiceQuestions

Clickheretoaccessmultiplechoicequestionsonatomicandnuclearstructure.

ExternalLinks

NovelPeriodicTable(http://www.knovel.com/web/portal/periodic_table) NovelPeriodicTable(http://www.knovel.com/web/portal/periodic_table)­aninteractivetableprovidinginformationabouteachelement.

Foundation.

NaturalRadioactivity(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/natural.htm) NaturalRadioactivity(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/natural.htm)­anoverviewofradioactivityinnature­includessectionsonprimordial

radionuclides,cosmicradiation,humanproducedradionuclides,aswellasnaturalradioactivityinsoil,intheocean,inthehumanbodyandinbuilding

materials­fromtheUniversityofMichiganStudentChapteroftheHealthPhysicsSociety.

TheParticleAdventure(http://pdg.web.cern.ch/pdg/particleadventure/index.html) TheParticleAdventure(http://pdg.web.cern.ch/pdg/particleadventure/index.html)­aninteractivetouroftheinnerworkingsoftheatomwhichexplains

themoderntoolsphysicistsusetoprobenuclearandsub­nuclearmatterandhowphysicistsmeasuretheresultsoftheirexperimentsusingdetectors­

fromtheParticleDataGroupattheLawrenceBerkeleyNationalLab,USAandmirroredatCERN,Geneva.

WebElements(http://www.webelements.com/) WebElements(http://www.webelements.com/)­anexcellentweb­basedPeriodicTableoftheElementswhichincludesavastarrayofdataabouteach

element­originallyfromMarkWinterattheUniversityofSheffield,England.

RadioactiveDecay

Wesawinthelastchapterthatradioactivityisaprocessusedbyunstablenucleitoachieveamorestablesituation.Itissaidthatsuchnucleidecayinan

attempttoachievestability.So,analternativetitleforthischapterisNuclearDecayProcesses.

WealsosawinthepreviouschapterthatwecanusetheNuclearStabilityCurveasameansofdescribingwhatisgoingon.Soasecondalternativetitlefor

thischapterisMethodsofGettingontotheNuclearStabilityCurve.

Wearegoingtofollowadescriptiveorphenomenologicalapproachtothetopicherebydescribinginafairlysimplefashionwhatisknownabouteachofthe

majordecaymechanisms.Onceagainyoumayhavealreadycoveredthismaterialinhighschoolphysics.Butbearwithusbecausethetreatmentherewill

helpussetthesceneforsubsequentchapters.

MethodsofRadioactiveDecay

Ratherthanconsideringwhathappenstoindividualnucleiitisperhapseasiertoconsiderahypotheticalnucleusthatcanundergomanyofthemajorformsof

radioactivedecay.Thishypotheticalnucleusisshownbelow:

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Ahypotheticalnucleuswhichcanundergomanyformsof radioactivedecay.

Ahypotheticalnucleuswhichcanundergomanyformsof

radioactivedecay.

.

.

Firstlywecanseetwoprotonsandtwoneutronsbeingemittedtogetherinaprocesscalledalpha­decay.Secondly,wecanseethataprotoncanreleasea

positroninaprocesscalledbeta­plusdecay,andthataneutroncanemitanelectroninaprocesscalledbeta­minusdecay.Wecanalsoseeanelectron

beingcapturedbyaproton.Thirdlywecanseesomeenergy(aphoton)beingemittedwhichresultsfromaprocesscalledgamma­decayaswellasan

electronbeingattractedintothenucleusandbeingejectedagain.Finallythereistherathercatastrophicprocesswherethenucleuscracksinhalfcalled

spontaneousfission.

Wewillnowdescribeeachofthesedecayprocessesinturn.

SpontaneousFission

Thisisaverydestructiveprocesswhichoccursinsomeheavynucleiwhichsplitinto2or3fragmentsplussomeneutrons.Thesefragmentsformnewnuclei

whichareusuallyradioactive.Nuclearreactorsexploitthisphenomenonfortheproductionofradioisotopes.Itsalsousedfornuclearpowergenerationandin

nuclearweaponry.Theprocessisnotofgreatinteresttoushereandwewillsaynomoreaboutitforthetimebeing.

AlphaDecay

Inthisdecayprocesstwoprotonsandtwoneutronsleavethenucleustogetherinanassemblyknownasanalphaparticle.Notethatanalphaparticleisreally

ahelium­4nucleus.

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Sowhynotcallitaheliumnucleus?Whygiveitanothername?Theanswertothisquestionliesinthehistoryofthediscoveryofradioactivity.Atthetime whentheseradiationswerediscoveredwedidn'tknowwhattheyreallywere.Wefoundoutthatonetypeoftheseradiationshadadoublepositivechargeand

itwasnotuntilsometimelaterthatwelearnedthattheywereinfactnucleiofhelium­4.Intheinitialperiodoftheirdiscoverythisformofradiationwasgiven

thenamealpharays(andtheothertwowerecalledbetaandgammarays),thesetermsbeingthefirstthreelettersoftheGreekalphabet.Westillcallthis

formofradiationbythenamealphaparticleforhistoricalpurposes.Callingitbythisnamealsocontributestothespecificjargonofthefieldandleads

outsiderstothinkthatthesubjectisquitespecialized!

Butnoticethattheradiationreallyconsistsofahelium­4nucleusemittedfromanunstablelargernucleus.Thereisnothingstrangeaboutheliumsinceitis

quiteanabundantelementonourplanet.Sowhyisthisradiationdangeroustohumans?Theanswertothisquestionlieswiththeenergywithwhichtheyare

emittedandthefactthattheyarequitemassiveandhaveadoublepositivecharge.Sowhentheyinteractwithlivingmattertheycancausesubstantial

destructiontomoleculeswhichtheyencounterintheirattempttoslowdownandtoattracttwoelectronstobecomeaneutralheliumatom.

Anexampleofthisformofdecayoccursintheuranium­238nucleus.Theequationwhichrepresentswhatoccursis:

→ +

Heretheuranium­238nucleusemitsahelium­4nucleus(thealphaparticle)andtheparentnucleusbecomesthorium­234.NotethattheMassNumberofthe

parentnucleushasbeenreducedby4andtheAtomicNumberisreducedby2whichisacharacteristicofalphadecayforanynucleusinwhichitoccurs.

BetaDecay

Therearethreecommonformsofbetadecay:

(a)ElectronEmission

Certainnucleiwhichhaveanexcessofneutronsmayattempttoreachstabilitybyconvertinganeutronintoaprotonwiththeemissionofanelectron.

Theelectroniscalledabeta­minusparticle­theminusindicatingthattheparticleisnegativelycharged.

Wecanrepresentwhatoccursasfollows:

n 0 →p + +e ­

whereaneutronconvertsintoaprotonandanelectron.Noticethatthetotalelectricalchargeisthesameonbothsidesofthisequation.Wesaythat

Wecanconsiderthattheelectroncannotexistinsidethenucleusandthereforeisejected.

Onceagainthereisnothingstrangeormysteriousaboutanelectron.Whatisimportantthoughfromaradiationsafetypointofviewistheenergywith

whichitisemittedandthechemicaldamageitcancausewhenitinteractswithlivingmatter.

Anexampleofthistypeofdecayoccursintheiodine­131nucleuswhichdecaysintoxenon­131withtheemissionofanelectron,thatis

→ +

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Theelectroniswhatiscalledabeta­minusparticle.NotethattheMassNumberintheaboveequationremainsthesameandthattheAtomicNumber

increasesby1whichischaracteristicofthistypeofdecay.

Youmaybewonderinghowanelectroncanbeproducedinsideanucleusgiventhatthesimpleatomicdescriptionwegaveinthepreviouschapter

indicatedthatthenucleusconsistsofprotonsandneutronsonly.Thisisoneofthelimitationsofthesimpletreatmentpresentedsofarandcanbe

explainedbyconsideringthatthetwoparticleswhichwecallprotonsandneutronsarethemselvesformedofsmallerparticlescalledquarks.Weare

notgoingtoconsidertheseinanywayhereotherthantonotethatsomecombinationsofdifferenttypesofquarkproduceprotonsandanother

combinationproducesneutrons.Themessagehereistoappreciatethatasimplepictureisthebestwaytostartinanintroductorytextsuchasthisand

thattherealsituationisalotmorecomplexthanwhathasbeendescribed.Thesamecanbesaidaboutthetreatmentofbeta­decaygivenaboveaswe

willseeinsubsequentchapters.

(b)PositronEmission

Whenthenumberofprotonsinanucleusistoolargeforthenucleustobestableitmayattempttoreachstabilitybyconvertingaprotonintoaneutron

withtheemissionofapositively­chargedelectron.

Thatisnotatypographicalerror!Anelectronwithapositivechargealsocalledapositronisemitted.Thepositronisthebeta­plusparticle.

Thehistoryhereisquiteinteresting.AbrilliantItalianphysicist,EnricoFermidevelopedatheoryofbetadecayandhistheorypredictedthatpositively­

chargedaswellasnegatively­chargedelectronscouldbeemittedbyunstablenuclei.Theseparticlescouldbecalledpiecesofanti­matterandtheywere

subsequentlydiscoveredbyexperiment.Theydonotexistforverylongastheyquicklycombinewithanormalelectronandthesubsequentreaction

calledannihilationgivesrisetotheemissionoftwogammarays.

Sciencefictionwritershadagreattimefollowingthediscoveryofanti­matterandspeculatedalongwithmanyscientiststhatpartsofouruniversemay

containnegatively­chargedprotonsformingnucleiwhichareorbitedbypositively­chargedelectrons.Butthisistakingustoofarawayfromthetopicat

hand!

Thereactioninourunstablenucleuswhichcontainsonetoomanyprotonscanberepresentedasfollows:

p + →n 0 +e +

Notice,onceagain,thatelectricchargeisconservedoneachsideofthisequation.

Anexampleofthistypeofdecayoccursinsodium­22whichdecaysintoneon­22withtheemissionofapositron:

→ +

NotethattheMassNumberremainsthesameandthattheAtomicNumberdecreasesby1.

(c)ElectronCapture

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Inthisthirdformofbetadecayaninnerorbitingelectronisattractedintoanunstablenucleuswhereitcombineswithaprotontoformaneutron.The

reactioncanberepresentedas:

e ­ +p + →n 0

ThisprocessisalsoknownasK­capturesincetheelectronisoftenattractedfromtheK­shelloftheatom.

Howdoweknowthataprocesslikethisoccursgiventhatnoradiationisemitted?Inotherwordstheeventoccurswithintheatomitselfandno

informationaboutitleavestheatom.Ordoesit?Thesignatureofthistypeofdecaycanbeobtainedfromeffectsintheelectroncloudsurroundingthe

Thisformofdecaycanalsoberecognisedbytheemissionofgamma­raysfromthenewnucleus.

Anexampleofthistypeofradioactivedecayoccursiniron­55whichdecaysintomanganese­55followingthecaptureofanelectron.Thereactioncan

berepresentedasfollows:

+ →

NotethattheMassNumberonceagainisunchangedinthisformofdecayandthattheAtomicNumberisdecreasedby1.

GammaDecay

Gammadecayinvolvestheemissionofenergyfromanunstablenucleusintheformofelectromagneticradiation.

Youshouldrememberfromyourhighschoolphysicsthatelectromagneticradiationisthebiggestphysicalphenomenonwehavesofardiscovered.The

radiationcanbecharacterisedintermsofitsfrequency,itswavelengthanditsenergy.Thinkingaboutitintermsoftheenergyoftheradiationwehavevery

lowenergyelectromagneticradiationcalledradiowaves,infra­redradiationataslightlyhigherenergy,visiblelightatahigherenergystill,thenultra­

violetradiationandthehigherenergyformsofthisradiationarecalledX­raysandgamma­rays.Youshouldalsorememberthattheseradiationsformwhat

iscalledtheElectromagneticSpectrum.

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BeforeproceedingitisusefultopauseforamomenttoconsiderthedifferencebetweenX­raysandgamma­rays.Thesetwoformsofradiationarehighenergy

electromagneticraysandarethereforevirtuallythesame.Thedifferencebetweenthemisnotwhattheyconsistofbutwheretheycomefrom.Ingeneralwe

cansaythatiftheradiationemergesfromanucleusitiscalledagamma­rayandifitemergesfromoutsidethenucleusfromtheelectroncloudforexample,it

iscalledanX­ray.

Onefinalpointisofrelevancebeforeweconsiderthedifferentformsofgamma­decayandthatiswhatsuchahighenergyrayreallyis.Ithasbeenfoundin

experimentsthatgamma­rays(andX­raysforthatmatter!)sometimesmanifestthemselvesaswavesandothertimesasparticles.Thiswave­particleduality

canbeexplainedusingtheequivalenceofmassandenergyattheatomiclevel.Whenwedescribeagammarayasawaveithasbeenfoundusefultouse

termssuchasfrequencyandwavelengthjustlikeanyotherwave.Inadditionwhenwedescribeagammarayasaparticleweusetermssuchasmassand

electriccharge.Furthermorethetermelectromagneticphotonisusedfortheseparticles.Theinterestingfeatureaboutthesephotonshoweveristhatthey

haveneithermassnorcharge!

Therearetwocommonformsofgammadecay:

(a)IsomericTransition

Anucleusinanexcitedstatemayreachitsgroundorunexcitedstatebytheemissionofagamma­ray.

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Anexampleofthistypeofdecayisthatoftechnetium­99m­whichbythewayisthemostcommonradioisotopeusedfordiagnosticpurposestodayin

medicine.Thereactioncanbeexpressedas:

→ +

Hereanucleusoftechnetium­99isinanexcitedstate,thatis,ithasexcessenergy.Theexcitedstateinthiscaseiscalledametastablestateandthe

nucleusisthereforecalledtechnetium­99m(mformetastable).Theexcitednucleusloosesitsexcessenergybyemittingagamma­raytobecome

technetium­99.

(b)InternalConversion

Heretheexcessenergyofanexcitednucleusisgiventoanatomicelectron,e.g.aK­shellelectron.

DecaySchemes

Decayschemesarewidelyusedtogiveavisualrepresentationofradioactivedecay.Aschemeforarelativelystraight­forwarddecayisshownbelow:

Thisschemeisforhydrogen­3whichdecaystohelium­3withahalf­lifeof12.3yearsthroughtheemissionofabeta­minus

particlewithanenergyof0.0057MeV.

particlewithanenergyof0.0057MeV. Aschemeforamorecomplicateddecayisthatofcaesium­137.

Aschemeforamorecomplicateddecayisthatofcaesium­137.

Aschemeforamorecomplicateddecayisthatofcaesium­137.

Thisisotopecandecaythroughthroughtwobeta­minusprocesses.Inonewhichoccursin5%of

disintegrationsabeta­minusparticleisemittedwithanenergyof1.17MeVtoproducebarium­

137.Inthesecondwhichoccursmorefrequently(intheremaining95%ofdisintegrations)a

beta­minusparticleofenergy0.51MeVisemittedtoproducebarium­137m­inotherwordsabarium­137nucleusina

metastablestate.Thebarium­137mthendecaysviaisomerictransitionwiththeemissionofagamma­rayofenergy0.662

MeV.

Thegeneralmethodusedfordecayschemesisillustratedinthediagramonthe

right.

right.

Theenergyisplottedontheverticalaxisandatomicnumberonthehorizontalaxis­althoughtheseaxesarerarely

displayedinactualschemes.Theisotopefromwhichtheschemeoriginatesisdisplayedatthetop­Xinthecase

above.Thisisotopeisreferredtoastheparent.Theparentloosesenergywhenitdecaysandhencetheproducts

ofthedecayreferredtoasdaughtersareplottedatalowerenergylevel.

Thediagramillustratesthesituationforcommonformsofradioactivedecay.Alpha­decayisillustratedontheleft

wherethemassnumberisreducedby4andtheatomicnumberisreducedby2toproducedaughterA.Toitsright

theschemeforbeta­plusdecayisshowntoproducedaughterB.Thesituationforbeta­minusdecayfollowedby

gamma­decayisshownontherightsideofthediagramwheredaughtersCandDrespectivelyareproduced.

MultipleChoiceQuestions

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Clickheretoaccessmultiplechoicequestionsonradioactivedecay.

ExternalLinks

BasicsaboutRadiation(http://www.rerf.or.jp/general/whatis _ e/index.html) BasicsaboutRadiation(http://www.rerf.or.jp/general/whatis_e/index.html)­overviewofthedifferenttypesofionisingradiationfromtheRadiation

EffectsResearchFoundation­acooperativeJapan­UnitedStatesResearchOrganizationwhichconductsresearchforpeacefulpurposes.

RadiationandRadioactivity(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/cover.htm) RadiationandRadioactivity(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/cover.htm)­aself­pacedlessondevelopedbytheUniversityofMichigan's

StudentChapteroftheHealthPhysicsSociety,withsectionsonradiation,radioactivity,theatom,alpharadiation,betaradiationandgammaradiation.

TheRadioactiveDecayLaw

TheRadioactiveDecayLaw

Wecoveredradioactivedecayfromaphenomenologicalperspectiveinthelastchapter.Inthischapterweconsiderthetopicfromamoregeneralanalytical

perspective.

Thereasonfordoingthisissothatwecandevelopaformofthinkingwhichwillhelpustounderstandwhatisgoingoninaquantitative,mathematicalsense.

WewillbeintroducedtoconceptssuchastheDecayConstantandtheHalfLifeaswellasunitsusedforthemeasurementofradioactivity.Youwillalso

haveachancetodevelopyourunderstandingbybeingbroughtthroughthreequestionsonthissubject.

Assumptions

Theusualstartingpointinmostformsofanalysisinphysicsistomakesomeassumptionswhichsimplifythesituation.Bysimplifyingthesituationwecan

disposeofirrelevanteffectswhichtendtocomplicatemattersbutindoingsowesometimesmakethesituationsosimplethatitbecomesabittooabstract

andapparentlyhardtounderstand.

Forthisreasonwewilltryheretorelatethesubjectofradioactivedecaytoamorecommonsituationwhichwewilluseasananalogyandhopefullywewillbe

abletoovercometheabstractfeatureofthesubjectmatter.Theanalogywewillusehereisthatofmakingpopcorn.

Sothinkaboutputtingsomeoilinapot,addingthecorn,heatingthepotonthecookerandwatchingwhathappens.Youmightalsoliketotrythisoutwhile

consideringthesituation!

Forourradioactivedecaysituationwefirstofallconsiderthatwehaveasamplecontainingalargenumberofradioactivenucleiallofthesamekind.Thisis

ourunpoppedcorninthepotforexample.

Secondlyweassumethatalloftheradioactivenucleidecaybythesameprocessbeitalpha,betaorgamma­decay.Inotherwordsourunpoppedcorngoes

popatsomestageduringtheheatingprocess.

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Thirdlytakeafewmomentstoponderonthefactthatwecanonlyreallyconsiderwhatisgoingonfroma

statisticalperspective.Ifyoulookatanindividualpieceofcorn,canyoufigureoutwhenitisgoingtopop?Not

really.Youcanhoweverfigureoutthatalargenumberofthemwillhavepoppedafteraperiodoftime.Butits

rathermoredifficulttofigureoutthesituationforanindividualpieceofcorn.Soinsteadofdealingwithindividual

entitiesweconsiderwhathappensonalargerscaleandthisiswherestatisticscomesin.Wecansaythatthe

radioactivedecayisastatisticalone­shotprocess,thatiswhenanucleushasdecayeditcannotrepeattheprocess

again.Inotherwordswhenapieceofcornhaspoppeditcannotrepeattheprocess.Simple!

Inadditionaslongasaradioactivenucleushasnotdecayedtheprobabilityforitdoingsointhenextmoment

remainsthesame.Inotherwordsifapieceofcornhasnotpoppedatacertaintimethechanceofitpoppingin

thenextsecondisthesameasintheprevioussecond.Thebetsareeven!

Letusnotpushthispopcornanalogytoofarthoughinthatweknowthatwecancontroltherateofpoppingbythe

heatweapplytothepotforexample.Howeverasfarasourradioactivenucleiareconcernedthereisnothingwe

candotocontrolwhatisgoingon.Therateatwhichnucleigopop(ordecay,inotherwords)cannotbeinfluenced

byheatingupthesample.Norbycoolingitforthatmatterorbyputtingitundergreaterpressures,bychangingthe

gravitationalenvironmentbytakingitoutintospaceforinstance,orbychanginganyotheraspectofitsphysical

environment.Theonlythingthatdetermineswhetheranindividualnucleuswilldecayseemstobethenucleus

itself.Butontheaveragewecansaythatitwilldecayatsomestage.

TheRadioactiveDecayLaw

Letusnowusesomesymbolstoreducetheamountofwritingwehavetodotodescribewhatisgoingonandto

availourselvesofsomemathematicaltechniquestosimplifythesituationevenfurtherthanwehavebeenableto

dosofar.

Graphofthestabilityofeveryknownnucleus, plottedasZ(numberofprotons)versusN (numberofneutrons).Thecolorcorresponds

Graphofthestabilityofeveryknownnucleus,

plottedasZ(numberofprotons)versusN

(numberofneutrons).Thecolorcorresponds

tothevalueofthehalf­lifeT½withastrong

logscale,sinceitvariesbetween10 20 and

10 20 seconds.

LetussaythatinthesampleofradioactivematerialthereareNnucleiwhichhavenotdecayedatacertaintime,t.Sowhathappensinthenextbriefperiodof

time?Somenucleiwilldecayforsure.Buthowmany?

Onthebasisofourreasoningabovewecansaythatthenumberwhichwilldecaywilldependonoverallnumberofnuclei,N,andalsoonthelengthofthe

briefperiodoftime.Inotherwordsthemorenucleitherearethemorewilldecayandthelongerthetimeperiodthemorenucleiwilldecay.Letusdenotethe

numberwhichwillhavedecayedasdNandthesmalltimeintervalasdt.

Sowehavereasonedthatthenumberofradioactivenucleiwhichwilldecayduringthetimeintervalfromttot+dtmustbeproportionaltoNandtodt.In

symbolstherefore:

theminussignindicatingthatNisdecreasing.

Turningtheproportionalityinthisequationintoanequalitywecanwrite:

wheretheconstantofproportionality,λ,iscalledtheDecayConstant.

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DividingacrossbyNwecanrewritethisequationas:

Sothisequationdescribesthesituationforanybrieftimeinterval,dt.Tofindoutwhathappensforallperiodsoftimewesimplyaddupwhathappensineach

brieftimeinterval.Inotherwordsweintegratetheaboveequation.Expressingthismoreformallywecansaythatfortheperiodoftimefromt=0toanylater

timet,thenumberofradioactivenucleiwilldecreasefromN 0 toN t ,sothat:

ThisfinalexpressionisknownastheRadioactiveDecayLaw.Ittellsusthatthenumberofradioactivenucleiwilldecreaseinanexponentialfashionwith

timewiththerateofdecreasebeingcontrolledbytheDecayConstant.

Beforelookingatthisexpressioninfurtherdetailletusreviewthemathematicswhichweusedabove.Firstofallweusedintegralcalculustofigureoutwhat

washappeningoveraperiodoftimebyintegratingwhatweknewwouldoccurinabriefintervaloftime.Secondlyweusedacalculusrelationshipthatthe

wherelnxrepresentsthenaturallogarithmofx.Andthirdlyweusedthedefinitionoflogarithmsthatwhen

then,

Now,toreturntotheRadioactiveDecayLaw.TheLawtellsusthatthenumberofradioactivenucleiwilldecreasewithtimeinanexponentialfashionwiththe

rateofdecreasebeingcontrolledbytheDecayConstant.TheLawisshowningraphicalforminthefigurebelow:

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version - Wikibooks, open books for an open world Thegraphplotsthenumberofradioactivenucleiatanytime, N t

Thegraphplotsthenumberofradioactivenucleiatanytime,N t ,againsttime,t.WecanseethatthenumberofradioactivenucleidecreasesfromN 0 thatis

thenumberatt=0inarapidfashioninitiallyandthenmoreslowlyintheclassicexponentialmanner.

TheinfluenceoftheDecayConstantcanbeseeninthefollowingfigure:

TheinfluenceoftheDecayConstantcanbeseeninthefollowingfigure:

Allthreecurveshereareexponentialinnature,onlytheDecayConstantisdifferent.NoticethatwhentheDecayConstanthasalowvaluethecurvedecreases

relativelyslowlyandwhentheDecayConstantislargethecurvedecreasesveryquickly.

TheDecayConstantischaracteristicofindividualradionuclides.Somelikeuranium­238haveasmallvalueandthematerialthereforedecaysquiteslowlyover

alongperiodoftime.Othernucleisuchastechnetium­99mhavearelativelylargeDecayConstantandtheydecayfarmorequickly.

ItisalsopossibletoconsidertheRadioactiveDecayLawfromanotherperspectivebyplottingthelogarithmofN t againsttime.Inotherwordsfromour analysisabovebyplottingtheexpression:

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intheform

Noticethatthisexpressionissimplyanequationoftheformy=mx+cwherem=­landc=lnN 0 .Asaresultitistheequationofastraightlineofslope­las showninthefollowingfigure.Suchaplotissometimesusefulwhenwewishtoconsiderasituationwithoutthecomplicationofthedirectexponential behaviour.

behaviour. Half­Life

Half­Life

Mostofushavenotbeentaughttothinkinstinctivelyintermsoflogarithmicorexponentialtermseventhoughmanynaturalphenomenadisplayexponential

behaviours.Mostoftheformsofthinkingwhichwehavebeentaughtinschoolarebasedonlinearchangesandasaresultitisratherdifficultforustograsp

theRadioactiveDecayLawintuitively.Forthisreasonanindicatorisusuallyderivedfromthelawwhichhelpsusthinkmoreclearlyaboutwhatisgoingon.

ThisindicatoriscalledtheHalfLifeanditexpressesthelengthoftimeittakesfortheradioactivityofaradioisotopetodecreasebyafactoroftwo.Froma

graphicalpointofviewwecansaythatwhen:

thetimetakenistheHalfLife:

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version - Wikibooks, open books for an open world Notethatthe half­life

Notethatthehalf­lifedoesnotexpresshowlongamaterialwillremainradioactivebutsimplythelengthoftimeforitsradioactivitytohalve.Examplesofthe

halflivesofsomeradioisotopesaregiveninthefollowingtable.Noticethatsomeofthesehavearelativelyshorthalflife.Thesetendtobetheonesusedfor

medicaldiagnosticpurposesbecausetheydonotremainradioactiveforverylongfollowingadministrationtoapatientandhenceresultinarelativelylow

radiationdose.

Radioisotope

HalfLife(approx.)

81m Kr

13seconds

99m Tc

6hours

131

I

8days

51

Cr

1month

137

Cs

30years

241

Am

462years

226

Ra

1620years

238

U

4.51x10 9 years

Buttheydopresentalogisticalproblemwhenwewishtousethemwhentheremaynotbearadioisotopeproductionfacilitynearby.Forexamplesupposewe wishtouse 99m Tcforapatientstudyandthenearestnuclearfacilityformakingthisisotopeis5,000kmaway.TheproductionfacilitycouldbeinSydneyand

thepatientcouldbeinPerthforinstance.Aftermakingtheisotopeatthenuclearplantitwouldbedecayingwithahalflifeof6hours.Soweputthematerial

onatruckanddriveittoSydneyairport.TheisotopewouldbedecayingasthetrucksitsinSydneytrafficthendecayingstillmoreasitwaitsforaplaneto

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takeittoPerth.ThendecayingmoreasitisflownacrosstoPerthandsoon.Bythetimeitgetstoourpatientitwillhavesubstantiallyreducedinradioactivity possiblytothepointofbeinguselessforthepatient'sinvestigation.Andwhatabouttheproblemifweneededtouse 81m Krinsteadof 99m Tcforourpatient? Youwillseeinanotherchapterofthisbookthatlogisticalchallengessuchasthishavegivenrisetoquiteinnovativesolutions.Moreaboutthatlater!

Youcanappreciatefromthetableabovethatotherisotopeshaveaverylonghalflives.Forexample 226 Rahasahalflifeofover1,500years.Thisisotope hasbeenusedinthepastfortherapeuticapplicationsinmedicine.Thinkaboutthelogisticalproblemshere.Theyobviouslydonotrelatetotransportingthe materialfromthepointofproductiontothepointofuse.Buttheyrelatetohowthematerialiskeptfollowingitsarrivalatthepointofuse.Wemusthavea storagefacilitysothatthematerialcanbekeptsafelyforalongperiodoftime.Butforhowlong?Ageneralruleofthumbforthequantitiesofradioactivity usedinmedicineisthattheradioactivitywillremainsignificantforabout10halflives.Sowewouldhavetohaveasafeenvironmentforstorageofthe 226 Ra

forabout16,000years!Thisstoragefacilitywouldhavetobesecurefrommanyunforeseeableeventssuchasearthquakes,bombingetc.andbekeptina

mannerwhichourchildren's,children'schildrencanunderstand.Averyseriousundertakingindeed!

RelationshipbetweentheDecayConstantandtheHalfLife

OnthebasisoftheaboveyoushouldbeabletoappreciatethatthereisarelationshipbetweentheDecayConstantandtheHalfLife.Forexamplewhenthe

DecayConstantissmalltheHalfLifeshouldbelongandcorrespondinglywhentheDecayConstantislargetheHalfLifeshouldbeshort.Butwhatexactlyis

thenatureofthisrelationship?

WecaneasilyanswerthisquestionbyusingthedefinitionofHalfLifeandapplyingittotheRadioactiveDecayLaw.

Onceagainthelawtellsusthatatanytime,t:

andthedefinitionofHalfLifetellsusthat:

when

Wecanthereforere­writetheRadioactiveDecayLawbysubstitutingforN t andtasfollows:

Therefore

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and

TheselasttwoequationsexpresstherelationshipbetweentheDecayConstantandtheHalfLife.Theyareveryusefulasyouwillseewhensolvingnumerical

questionsrelatingtoradioactivityandusuallyformthefirststepinsolvinganumericalproblem.

UnitsofRadioactivity

TheSIormetricunitofradioactivityisnamedafterHenriBecquerel,inhonourofhisdiscoveryofradioactivity,andiscalledthebecquerelwiththesymbol

Bq.Thebecquerelisdefinedasthequantityofradioactivesubstancethatgivesrisetoadecayrateof1decaypersecond.

Inmedicaldiagnosticwork1Bqisarathersmallamountofradioactivity.Indeeditiseasytorememberitsdefinitionifyouthinkofitasabuggerallamountof

radioactivity.Forthisreasonthekilobecquerel(kBq)andmegabecquerel(MBq)aremorefrequentlyused.

ThetraditionalunitofradioactivityisnamedafterMarieCurieandiscalledthecurie,withthesymbolCi.Thecurieisdefinedastheamountofradioactive substancewhichgivesrisetoadecayrateof3.7x10 10 decayspersecond.Inotherwords37thousand,milliondecayspersecondwhichasyoumight appreciateisasubstantialamountofradioactivity.Formedicaldiagnosticworkthemillicurie(mCi)andthemicrocurie(µCi)arethereforemorefrequentlyused.

Whytwounits?Itinessencelikeallotherunitsofmeasurementdependsonwhatpartoftheworldyouarein.Forexamplethekilometeriswidelyusedin

EuropeandAustraliaasaunitofdistanceandthemileisusedintheUSA.SoifyouarereadinganAmericantextbookyouarelikelytofindthecurieusedas

theunitofradioactivity,ifyouarereadinganAustralianbookitwillmostlikelyrefertobecquerelsandbothunitsmightbeusedifyouarereadingaEuropean

book.Youwillthereforefinditnecessarytoknowandunderstandbothunits.

MultipleChoiceQuestions

ClickheretoaccessanMCQontheRadioactiveDecayLaw.

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Questions

Threequestionsaregivenbelowtohelpyoudevelopyourunderstandingofthematerialpresentedinthischapter.Thefirstoneisrelativelystraight­forward

andwillexerciseyourapplicationoftheRadioactiveDecayLawaswellasyourunderstandingoftheconceptofHalfLife.Thesecondquestionisalotmore

challengingandwillhelpyourelatetheRadioactiveDecayLawtothenumberofradioactivenucleiwhicharedecayinginasampleofradioactivematerial.The

thirdquestionwillhelpyouunderstandtheapproachusedinthesecondquestionbyaskingasimilarquestionfromaslightlydifferentperspective.

Question1

(a)Thehalf­lifeof 99m Tcis6hours.Afterhowmuchtimewill1/16thoftheradioisotoperemain?

(b)Verifyyouranswerbyanothermeans.

Answer:

(a)StartingwiththerelationshipweestablishedearlierbetweentheDecayConstantandtheHalfLifewecancalculatetheDecayConstantasfollows:

NowapplyingtheRadioactiveDecayLaw,

wecanre­writeitintheform:

ThequestiontellsusthatN 0 hasreducedto1/16thofitsvalue,thatis:

Therefore

whichweneedtosolvefort.Onewayofdoingthisisasfollows:

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Soitwilltake24hoursuntil1/16thoftheradioactivityremains.

(b)AwayinwhichthisanswercanbeverifiedisbyusingthedefinitionofHalfLife.WearetoldthattheHalfLifeof 99m Tcis6hours.Thereforeafter sixhourshalfoftheradioactivityremains.

Thereforeafter12hoursaquarterremains;after18hoursaneighthremainsandafter24hoursonesixteenthremains.Andwearriveatthesame

answerasinpart(a).Sowemustberight!

Notethatthissecondapproachisusefulifwearedealingwithrelativelysimplesituationswheretheradioactivityishalved,quarteredandsoon.But

supposingthequestionaskedhowlongwouldittakefortheradioactivitytodecreasetoatenthofitsinitialvalue.Deductionfromthedefinitionofhalf

lifeisrathermoredifficultinthiscaseandthemathematicalapproachusedforpart(a)abovewillyieldtheanswermorereadily.

Question2

Findtheradioactivityofa1gsampleof 226 Ragiventhatt 1/2 :1620yearsandAvogadro'sNumber:6.023x10 23 .

Answer:

WecanstarttheanswerlikewedidwithQuestion1(a)bycalculatingtheDecayConstantfromtheHalfLifeusingthefollowingequation:

Notethatthelengthofayearusedinconvertingfrom'peryear'to'persecond'aboveis365.25daystoaccountforleapyears.Inadditionthereasonfor

convertingtounitsof'persecond'isbecausetheunitofradioactivityisexpressedasthenumberofnucleidecayingpersecond.

Secondlywecancalculatethat1gof 226 Racontains:

ThirdlyweneedtoexpresstheRadioactiveDecayLawintermsofthenumberofnucleidecayingperunittime.Wecandothisbydifferentiatingthe

equationasfollows:

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Thereasonforexpressingtheresultaboveinabsolutetermsistoremovetheminussigninthatwealreadyknowthatthenumberisdecreasing.

WecannowenterthedatawederivedaboveforλandN:

Sotheradioactivityofour1gsampleofradium­226isapproximately1Ci.

Thisisnotasurprisinganswersincethedefinitionofthecuriewasoriginallyconceivedastheradioactivityof1gofradium­226!

Question3

Whatistheminimummassof 99m Tcthatcanhavearadioactivityof1MBq?Assumethehalf­lifeis6hoursandthatAvogadro'sNumberis6.023x10 23 .

Answer

StartingagainwiththerelationshipbetweentheDecayConstantandtheHalfLife:

Secondlythequestiontellsusthattheradioactivityis1MBq.Thereforesince1MBq=1x10 6 decayspersecond,

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Finallythemassofthesenucleicanbecalculatedasfollows:

Inotherwordsamassofjustoverfivepicogramsof 99m Tccanemitonemilliongamma­rayspersecond.Theresultreinforcesanimportantpointthat youwilllearnaboutradiationprotectionwhichisthatyoushouldtreatradioactivematerialsjustlikeyouwouldhandlepathogenicbacteria!

UnitsofRadiationMeasurement Introduction

UnitsofRadiationMeasurement

Introduction

ThisisthefourthchapterofawikibookentitledBasicPhysicsofNuclearMedicine.

Afterthatratherlonganddetailedchapterwehavejustfinishedwewillnowproceedatamoreleisurely

paceforashorttreatmentofsomeofthemorecommonunitsofmeasurementusedinthisfield.

Beforewedosohoweveritisusefultoconsiderthetypicalradiationenvironment.Bydoingsowewillgain

anappreciationofthevariousquantitiesthatcanbemeasuredbeforeconsideringtheunitswhichareused

toexpresssuchmeasurements.So,wewillfirstofallconsideratypicalradiationsituationandthengoonto

considerthevariousunitsofmeasurement.

ATypicalRadiationSituation

Atypicalradiationset­upisshowninthefigurebelow.Firstlythereisasourceofradiation,secondlya

radiationbeamandthirdlysomematerialwhichabsorbstheradiation.Sothequantitieswhichcanbe

measuredareassociatedwiththesource,theradiationbeamandtheabsorber.

.

.

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Thistypeofenvironmentcouldbeonewheretheradiationfromthesourceisusedtoirradiateapatient(thatistheabsorber)fordiagnosticpurposeswherewe

wouldplaceadevicebehindthepatientforproducinganimageorfortherapeuticpurposeswheretheradiationisintendedtocausedamagetoaspecific

regionofapatient.Itisalsoasituationwhereweasanabsorbermaybeworkingwithasourceofradiation.

TheRadiationSource

Whentheradiationsourceisaradioactiveonethequantitythatistypicallymeasuredistheradioactivityofthesource.Wesawinthepreviouschapterthatthe

unitsusedtoexpressradioactivityarethebecquerel(SIunit)andthecurie(traditionalunit).

TheRadiationBeam

ThecharacteristicofaradiationbeamthatistypicallymeasurediscalledtheRadiationExposure.Thisquantityexpresseshowmuchionisationthebeam

causesintheairthroughwhichittravels.

Wewillseeinthefollowingchapterthatoneofthemajorthingsthathappenswhenradiationencountersmatteristhationsareformed­airbeingtheformof

matteritencountersinthiscase.Sotheradiationexposureproducedbyaradiationbeamisexpressedintermsoftheamountofionisationwhichoccursinair.

Astraight­forwardwayofmeasuringsuchionisationistodeterminetheamountofelectricchargewhichisproduced.Youwillrememberfromyourhighschool

physicsthattheSIunitofelectricchargeisthecoulomb.

TheSIunitofradiationexposureisthecoulombperkilogram­andisgiventhesymbolCkg ­1 .ItisdefinedasthequantityofX­orgamma­rayssuchthat

theassociatedelectronsemittedperkilogramofairatstandardtemperatureandpressure(STP)produceionscarrying1coulombofelectriccharge.

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Thetraditionalunitofradiationexposureistheroentgen,namedinhonourofWilhelmRoentgen(whodiscoveredX­rays)andisgiventhesymbolR.The roentgenisdefinedasthequantityofX­orgamma­rayssuchthattheassociatedelectronsemittedperkilogramofairatSTPproduceionscarrying2.58x10 ­ 4 coulombsofelectriccharge.

So1Risasmallexposurerelativeto1Ckg ­1 ­infactitis3,876timessmaller.

NotethatthisunitisconfinedtoradiationbeamsconsistingofX­raysorgamma­rays.

Oftenitisnotsimplytheexposurethatisofinterestbuttheexposurerate,thatistheexposureperunittime.Theunitswhichtendtobeusedinthiscaseare theCkg ­1 s ­1 andtheRhr ­1 .

TheAbsorber

Energyisdepositedintheabsorberwhenradiationinteractswithit.Itisusuallyquiteasmallamountofenergybutenergynonetheless.Thequantitythatis

measurediscalledtheAbsorbedDoseanditisofrelevancetoalltypesofradiationbetheyX­orgamma­rays,alpha­orbeta­particles.

TheSIunitofabsorbeddoseiscalledthegray,namedafterafamousradiobiologist,LHGray,andisgiventhesymbolGy.Thegrayisdefinedasthe

absorptionof1jouleofradiationenergyperkilogramofmaterial.Sowhen1jouleofradiationenergyisabsorbedbyakilogramoftheabsorbermaterialwe

saythattheabsorbeddoseis1Gy.

Thetraditionalunitofabsorbeddoseiscalledtherad,whichsupposedlystandsforRadiationAbsorbedDose.Itisdefinedastheabsorptionof10 ­2 joulesof radiationenergyperkilogramofmaterial.

Asyoucanfigureout1Gyisequalto100rad.

Thereareotherquantitiesderivedfromthegrayandtheradwhichexpressthebiologicaleffectsofsuchabsorbedradiationenergywhentheabsorberisliving matter­humantissueforexample.ThesequantitiesincludetheEquivalentDose,H,andtheEffectiveDose,E.TheEquivalentDoseisbasedonestimatesof theionizationcapabilityofthedifferenttypesofradiationwhicharecalledRadiationWeightingFactors,w R ,suchthat

H=w R D

whereDistheabsorbeddose.TheEffectiveDoseincludesw R aswellasestimatesofthesensitivityofdifferenttissuescalledTissueWeightingFactors,

w T ,suchthat

E=Σw T H

wherethesummation,Σ,isoverallthetissuetypesinvolved.BoththeEquivalentDoseandtheEffectiveDosearemeasuredinderivedSIunitscalled

sieverts(Sv).

Letuspausehereforabittoponderontheuseofthetermdose.Itusuallyhasamedicalconnotationinthatwecansaythatsomeonehadadoseofthe'flu, orthatthedoctorprescribedacertaindoseofadrug.Whathasittodowiththedepositionofenergybyabeamofradiationinanabsorber?Itcouldhave somethingtodowiththeinitialapplicationsofradiationintheearlypartofthe20 th centurywhenitwasusedtotreatnumerousdiseases.Asaresultwecan

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speculatethatthetermhasstayedinthevernacularofthefield.Itwouldbemucheasiertouseatermlikeabsorbedradiationenergysincewearetalking

aboutthedepositionofenergyinanabsorber.Butthismightmakethesubjectjustalittletoosimple!

SpecificGammaRayConstant

Afinalquantityisworthmentioningwithregardtoradiationunits.ThisistheSpecificGamma­RayConstantforaradioisotope.Thisquantityisanamalgamof

thequantitieswehavealreadycoveredandexpressestheexposurerateproducedbythegamma­raysemittedfromaradioisotope.

Itisquiteausefulquantityfromapracticalviewpointwhenwearedealingwitharadioactivesourcewhichemitsgamma­rays.Supposingyouareusinga gamma­emittingradioactivesource(forexample 99m Tcor 137 Cs)andyouwillbestandingatacertaindistancefromthissourcewhileyouareworking.You mostlikelywillbeinterestedintheexposurerateproducedbythesourcefromaradiationsafetypointofview.ThisiswheretheSpecificGamma­Ray Constantcomesin.

Itisdefinedastheexposurerateperunitactivityatacertaindistancefromasource.TheSIunitisthereforethe

andthetraditionalunitisthe

Ckg ­1 s ­1 Bq ­1 at1m,

Rhr ­1 mCi ­1 at1cm.

Theseunitsofmeasurementarequitecumbersomeandabitofamouthful.Itmighthavebeenbetteriftheywerenamedaftersomefamousscientistsothat

wecouldcalltheSIunit1smithandthetraditionalunit1jonesforexample.Butagainthingsarenotthatsimple!

TheInverseSquareLaw

Beforewefinishthischapterwearegoingtoconsiderwhathappensaswemoveourabsorberawayfromtheradiationsource.Inotherwordswearegoingto

thinkabouttheinfluenceofdistanceontheintensityoftheradiationbeam.Youwillfindthatausefulresultemergesfromthisthathasaveryimportant

impactonradiationsafety.

Theradiationproducedinaradioactivesourceisemittedinalldirections.Wecanconsiderthatspheresofequalradiationintensityexistaroundthesource

withthenumberofphotons/particlesspreadingoutaswemoveawayfromthesource.

Consideranareaonthesurfaceofoneofthesespheresandassumethatthereareacertainnumberofphotons/particlespassingthoughit.Ifwenow

considerasphereatagreaterdistancefromthesourcethesamenumberofphotons/particleswillnowbespreadoutoverabiggerarea.Followingthislineof

thoughtitiseasytoappreciatethattheradiationintensity,Iwilldecreasewiththesquareofthedistance,rfromthesource,i.e.

ThiseffectisknownastheInverseSquareLaw.Asaresultifwedoublethedistancefromasource,wereducetheintensitybyafactoroftwosquared,thatis

4.Ifwetriplethedistancetheintensityisreducedbyafactorof9,thatisthreesquared,andsoon.

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Thisisaveryusefulpieceofinformationifyouareworkingwithasourceofradiationandareinterestedinminimisingthedoseofradiationyouwillreceive.

ExternalLinks

RadiationandRisk(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/risk.htm) RadiationandRisk(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/risk.htm)­coverstheeffectofradiation,howrisksaredetermined,comparisonof radiationwithotherrisksandradiationdoses.

RadiationEffectsOverview(http://www.rerf.or.jp/eigo/titles/radtoc.htm) RadiationEffectsOverview(http://www.rerf.or.jp/eigo/titles/radtoc.htm)­resultsofstudiesofvictimsofnuclearbombsincludingearlyeffectson survivors,effectsontheinuteroexposed,andlateeffectsonthesurvivors­fromtheRadiationEffectsResearchFoundation,acooperativeJapan­ UnitedStatesResearchOrganization.

TheRadiationandHealthPhysicsHomePage(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/) ­allyoueverwantedtoknowaboutradiationbutwereafraidto TheRadiationandHealthPhysicsHomePage(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/)­allyoueverwantedtoknowaboutradiationbutwereafraidto ask withhundredsofWWWlinks­fromtheStudentChapteroftheHealthPhysicsSociety,UniversityofMichigancontainingsectionsongeneral information,regulatoryInformation,professionalorganizationsandsocieties,radiationspecialties,healthphysicsresearchandeducation.

WhatYouNeedtoKnowaboutRadiation(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/needtoknow/) WhatYouNeedtoKnowaboutRadiation(http://www.umich.edu/~radinfo/introduction/needtoknow/)­toprotectyourselftoprotectyourfamilytomake reasonablesocialandpoliticalchoices­coverssourcesofradiationandradiationprotection­byLauristonS.Taylor.

InteractionofRadiationwithMatter

Wehavefocussedinpreviouschaptersonthesourceofradiationandthetypesofradiation.Wearenowinapositionto

considerwhathappenswhenthisradiationinteractswithmatter.Ourmainreasonfordoingthisistofindoutwhathappensto

 
 

theradiationasitpassesthroughmatterandalsotosetourselvesupforconsideringhowitinteractswithlivingtissueandhow

todetectradiation.Sinceallradiationdetectorsaremadefromsomeformofmatteritisusefultofirstofallknowhowradiation

interactssothatwecanexploittheeffectsinthedesignofsuchdetectorsinsubsequentchaptersofthiswikibook.

 

Beforewedothisletusfirstremindourselvesofthephysicalcharacteristicsofthemajortypesofradiation.Wehavecovered

thisinformationinsomedetailearlieranditissummarisedinthetablebelowforconvenience.

 

Wewillnowconsiderthepassageofeachtypeofradiationthroughmatterwithmostattentiongiventogamma­raysbecause

theyarethemostcommontypeusedinnuclearmedicine.Oneofthemaineffectsthatyouwillnoticeirrespectiveofthetype

ofradiationisthationsareproducedwhenradiationinteractswithmatter.Itisforthisreasonthatitiscalledionizingradiation.

 

Radiation

Mass

ElectricCharge

Velocity

 

.

AlphaParticles

relativelyheavy

doublepositive

relativelyslow

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BetaParticles

about8,000timeslighter

negative

lessthanthevelocityoflight

GammaRays

None

None

3x10 8 m/sinfreespace

Beforewestartthoughyoumightfindananalogyusefultohelpyouwithyourthinking.Thisanalogyworksonthebasisofthinkingaboutmatterasan

enormousmassofatoms(thatisnucleiwithorbitingelectrons)andthattheradiationisaparticle/photonpassingthroughthistypeofenvironment.Sothe

analogytothinkaboutisaspaceshippassingthroughameteorstormlikeyoumightseeinascience­fictionmoviewherethespaceshiprepresentsthe

radiationandthemeteorsrepresenttheatomsofthematerialthroughwhichtheradiationispassing.Oneaddedfeaturetobringonboardhoweveristhatour

spaceshipsometimeshasanelectricchargedependingonthetypeofradiationitrepresents.

AlphaParticles

Wecanseefromthetableabovethatalpha­particleshaveadoublepositivechargeandwecanthereforeeasilyappreciatethattheywillexertconsiderable

electrostaticattractionontheouterorbitalelectronsofatomsnearwhichtheypass.Theresultisthatsomeelectronswillbeattractedawayfromtheirparent

atomsandthationswillbeproduced.Inotherwordsionizationsoccur.

Wecanalsoappreciatefromthetablethatalpha­particlesarequitemassiverelativetotheothertypesofradiationandalsototheelectronsofatomsofthe

materialthroughwhichtheyarepassing.Asaresulttheytravelinstraightlinesthroughmatterexceptforraredirectcollisionswithnucleiofatomsalongtheir

path.

Athirdfeatureofrelevancehereistheenergywithwhichtheyareemitted.Thisenergyinthecaseofalpha­particlesisalwaysdistinct.Forexample 221 Ra emitsanalpha­particlewithanenergyof6.71MeV.Everyalpha­particleemittedfromthisradionuclidehasthisenergy.Anotherexampleis 230 Uwhichemits

threealpha­particleswithenergiesof5.66,5.82,5.89MeV.

Finallyitisusefultonotethatalpha­particlesareverydamagingbiologicallyandthisisonereasonwhytheyarenotusedforin­vivodiagnosticstudies.Wewill

thereforenotbeconsideringtheminanygreatdetailinthiswikibook.

BetaParticles

Wecanseefromthetablethatbeta­particleshaveanegativeelectriccharge.Noticethatpositronsarenotconsideredheresinceaswenotedinchapter2

theseparticlesdonotlastforverylonginmatterbeforetheyareannihilated.Beta­minusparticleslastconsiderablylongerandarethereforethefocusofour

attentionhere.

Becauseoftheirnegativechargetheyareattractedbynucleiandrepelledbyelectroncloudsastheypassthroughmatter.Theresultonceagainwithoutgoing

intogreatdetailisionization.

Thepathofbeta­particlesinmatterisoftendescribedasbeingtortuous,sincetheytendtoricochetfromatomtoatom.

Afinalandimportantpointtonoteisthattheenergyofbeta­particlesisneverfoundtobedistinctincontrasttothealpha­particlesabove.Theenergiesofthe beta­particlesfromaradioactivesourceformsaspectrumuptoamaximumenergy­seefigurebelow.Noticefromthefigurethatarangeofenergiesis presentandfeaturessuchasthemeanenergy,E mean ,orthemaximumenergy,E max ,arequoted.

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Thequestionwewillconsiderhereis:whyshouldaspectrumofenergiesbeseen?Surelyifabeta­particleisproducedinsideanucleuswhenaneutronis convertedintoaproton,asingledistinctenergyshouldresult.Theanswerliesinthefactthattwoparticlesareactuallyproducedinbeta­decay.Wedidnot

coverthisinourtreatmentinchapter2forfearofcomplicatingthingstoomuchatthatstageofthiswikibook.Butwewillcoveritherebrieflyforthesakeof

completeness.

Thesecondparticleproducedinbeta­decayiscalledaneutrinoandwasnamedbyEnricoFermi.Itisquiteamysteriousparticlepossessingvirtuallynomass

andcarryingnocharge,thoughwearestillresearchingitspropertiestoday.Thedifficultywiththemisthattheyareveryhardtodetectandthishasgreatly

limitedourknowledgeaboutthemsofar.

Thebeta­particleenergyspectrumcanbeexplainedbyconsideringthattheenergyproducedwhenaneutronisconvertedtoaprotonissharedbetweenthe beta­particleandtheanti­neutrino.Sometimesalltheenergyisgiventothebeta­particleanditreceivesthemaximumenergy,E max .Butmoreoftenthe energyissharedbetweenthemsothatforexamplethebeta­particlehasthemeanenergy,E mean andtheneutrinohastheremainderoftheenergy.

Finallyitisusefultonotethatbeta­particlesarequitedamagingbiologicallyandthisisonereasonwhytheyarenotusedforin­vivodiagnosticstudies.Wewill

thereforenotconsidertheminanygreatdetailinthiswikibook.

GammaRays

Sincewehavebeentalkingaboutenergiesabove,letusfirstnotethattheenergiesofgamma­raysemittedfromaradioactivesourcearealwaysdistinct.For example 99m Tcemitsgamma­rayswhichallhaveanenergyof140keVand 51 Cremitsgamma­rayswhichhaveanenergyof320keV.

Gamma­rayshavemanymodesofinteractionwithmatter.Thosewhichhavelittleornorelevancetonuclearmedicineimagingare:

andwillnotbedescribedhere.

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Thosewhichareveryimportanttonuclearmedicineimaging,arethePhotoelectricEffectandtheComptonEffect.Wewillconsidereachoftheseinturn

below.NotethattheeffectsdescribedherearealsoofrelevancetotheinteractionofX­rayswithmattersinceaswehavenotedbeforeX­raysandgamma­

raysareessentiallythesameentities.Sothetreatmentbelowisalsoofrelevancetoradiography.

PhotoelectricEffect

Whenagamma­raycollideswithanorbitalelectronofanatomofthematerialthroughwhichitispassingitcantransferallitsenergytotheelectron

andceasetoexist­seefigurebelow.OnthebasisofthePrincipleofConservationofEnergywecandeducethattheelectronwillleavetheatomwith

akineticenergyequaltotheenergyofthegamma­raylessthatoftheorbitalbindingenergy.Thiselectroniscalledaphotoelectron.

Notethatanionresultswhenthephotoelectronleavestheatom.Alsonotethatthegamma­rayenergyistotallyabsorbedintheprocess.

Twosubsequentpointsshouldalsobenoted.Firstlythephotoelectroncancauseionisationsalongitstrackinasimilarmannertoabeta­particle. SecondlyX­rayemissioncanoccurwhenthevacancyleftbythephotoelectronisfilledbyanelectronfromanoutershelloftheatom.Rememberthat

wecameacrossthistypeoffeaturebeforewhenwedealtwithElectronCaptureinchapter2.

ComptonEffect

Thistypeofeffectissomewhatakintoacueballhittingacolouredballonapooltable.Hereagamma­raytransfersonlypartofitsenergytoavalance

electronwhichisessentiallyfree­seefigurebelow.Noticethattheelectronleavestheatomandmayactlikeabeta­particleandthatthegamma­ray

deflectsoffinadifferentdirectiontothatwithwhichitapproachedtheatom.Thisdeflectedorscatteredgamma­raycanundergofurtherCompton

Effectswithinthematerial.

NotethatthiseffectissometimescalledComptonScattering.

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Thetwoeffectswehavejustdescribedgiverisetobothabsorptionandscatteringoftheradiationbeam.Theoveralleffectisreferredtoasattenuationof

gamma­rays.Wewillinvestigatethisfeaturefromananalyticalperspectiveinthefollowingchapter.Beforewedoso,we'llbrieflyconsidertheinteractionof

radiationwithlivingmatter.

RadiationBiology

Itiswellknownthatexposuretoionizingradiationcanresultindamagetolivingtissue.We'vealreadydescribedtheinitialatomicinteractions.What's

importantinradiationbiologyisthattheseinteractionsmaytriggercomplexchainsofbiomoleculareventsandconsequentbiologicaldamage.

We'veseenabovethattheprimarymeansbywhichionizingradiationslosetheirenergyinmatterisbyejectionoforbitalelectrons.Thelossoforbitalelectrons

fromtheatomleavesitpositivelycharged.Otherinteractionprocessesleadtoexcitationoftheatomratherthanionization.Here,anoutervalenceelectron

receivessufficientenergytoovercomethebindingenergyofitsshellandmovesfurtherawayfromthenucleustoanorbitthatisnotnormallyoccupied.This

typeofeffectaltersthechemicalforcethatbindsatomsintomoleculesandaregroupingoftheaffectedatomsintodifferentmolecularstructurescanresult.

Thatis,excitationisanindirectmethodofinducingchemicalchangethroughthemodificationofindividualatomicbonds.

Ionizationsandexcitationscangiverisetounstablechemicalspeciescalledfreeradicals.Theseareatomsandmoleculesinwhichthereareunpaired

electrons.Theyarechemicallyveryreactiveandseekstabilitybybondingwithotheratomsandmolecules.Changestonearbymoleculescanarisebecauseof

theirproduction.

But,let'sgobacktotheinteractionsthemselvesforthemoment

InthecaseofX­andgamma­rayinteractions,theenergyofthephotonsisusuallytransferredbycollisionswithorbitalelectrons,e.g.viaphotoelectricand

Comptoneffects.Theseradiationsarecapableofpenetratingdeeplyintotissuesincetheirinteractionsdependonchancecollisionswithelectrons.Indeed,

nuclearmedicineimagingisonlypossiblewhentheenergyofthegamma­raysissufficientforcompleteemissionfromthebody,butlowenoughtobe

detected.

Theinteractionofchargedparticles(e.g.alphaandbetaparticles),ontheotherhand,canbebycollisionswithatomicelectronsandalsoviaattractiveand

repulsiveelectrostaticforces.Therateatwhichenergyislostalongthetrackofachargedparticledependsthereforeonthesquareofthechargeonthat

particle.Thatis,thegreatertheparticlecharge,thegreatertheprobabilityofitgeneratingionpairsalongitstrack.Inaddition,alongerperiodoftimeis

availableforelectrostaticforcestoactwhenachargedparticleismovingslowlyandtheionizationprobabilityisthereforeincreasedasaresult.

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Thesituationisillustratedinthefollowingfigurewheretracksofchargedparticlesinwateraredepicted.Noticethatthetrackoftherelativelymassiveα­

particleisastraightline,aswe'vediscussedearlierinthischapter,withalargenumberofinteractions(indicatedbytheasterisks)perunitlength.Noticealso

thatthetracksforelectronsaretortuous,aswe'vealsodiscussedearlier,andthatthenumberofinteractionsperunitlengthisconsiderablyless.

Ionizationsandexcitationsalongparticletracksinwater,fora5.4 MeVα­particle(topleft),forelectronsgeneratedfollowingthe

Ionizationsandexcitationsalongparticletracksinwater,fora5.4

MeVα­particle(topleft),forelectronsgeneratedfollowingthe

absorptionofa1.5keVX­rayphoton(topright)andelectrons

generatedduringthedecayofiodine­125.

TheLinearEnergyTransfer(LET)isdefinedastheenergyreleasedperunitlengthofthetrackofanionizingparticle.Aslowlymoving,highlychargedparticle

thereforehasasubstantiallyhigherLETthanafast,singlychargedparticle.Analphaparticleof5MeVenergyandanelectronof1MeVenergyhaveLETs,

forinstance,of95and0.25keV/μm,respectively.Theionizationdensityandhencetheenergydepositionpatternassociatedwiththeheavierchargedparticle

isverymuchgreaterthanthatarisingfromelectrons,asillustratedinthefigureabove.

Theenergytransferredalongthetrackofachargedparticlewillvarybecausethevelocityoftheparticleislikelytobecontinuouslydecreasing.Each

interactionremovesasmallamountofenergyfromtheparticlesothattheLETgraduallyincreasesalongaparticletrackwithadramaticincrease(calledthe

BraggPeak)occurringjustbeforetheparticlecomestorest.

TheInternationalCommissiononRadiationUnitsandMeasurements(http://www.icru.org/)(ICRU)suggestthatlinealenergyisabetterindicatorofrelative

biologicaleffectiveness(RBE).AlthoughlinealenergyhasthesameunitsasLET(e.g.keV/μm),itisdefinedasthe:

ratiooftheenergydepositedinavolumeoftissuetotheaveragediameterofthatvolume.

Sincethemicroscopicdepositionofenergymaybequiteanisotropic,linealenergyshouldbeamoreappropriatemeasureofpotentialdamagethanthatof LET.TheICRUandtheICRPhaveaccordinglyrecommendedthattheradiationeffectivenessofaparticularradiationtypeshouldbebasedonlinealenergyin a1μmdiametersphereoftissue.ThelinealenergycanbecalculatedforanygivenradiationtypeandenergyandaRadiationWeightingFactor,(w R )canthen

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bedeterminedbasedontheintegratedvaluesoflinealenergyalongtheradiationtrack.

Alllivingthingsonthisplanethavebeenexposedtoionizingradiationsincethedawnoftime.Thecurrentsituationforhumansissummarizedinthefollowing

table:

Source

Cosmic

radiation

Terrestrial

radiation

Internal

radiation

Radonand

othergases

EffectiveDose

(mSv/year)

~0.4

~0.5

~0.3

~1.3

Comment

About100,000cosmicrayneutronsand400,000secondarycosmicrayspenetrate

ourbodieseveryhour­anditincreaseswithaltitude!

Over200milliongamma­rayspassthroughourbodyeveryhourfromsourcessuch

assoilandbuildingmaterials

About15million 40 Katomsandabout7,000naturaluraniumatomsdisintegrate insideourbodieseveryhour,primarilyfromourdiet

About30,000atomsdisintegrateinsideourlungseveryhourasaresultofbreathing

ThesumtotalofthisNaturalBackgroundRadiationisabout2.5mSvperyear,withlargevariationsdependingonaltitudeanddietaryintakeaswellas

geologicalandgeographicallocation.

Itsgenerallyconsideredthatrepairmechanismsexistinlivingmatterandthatthesecanbeinvokedfollowingradiationdamageatthebiomolecularlevel.

ofcancerorleukemia,forinstance,becomemanifest.Furthertreatmentofthisvastfieldofradiationbiologyhoweverisbeyondourscopehere.

PracticalRadiationSafety

Radiationhazardsarisesincenuclearmedicineinvolvesthehandlingofradioactivematerials.Althoughthisriskmaybesmall,itremainsimportanttokeep

occupationalexposuresaslowasreasonablyachievable.Essentialpracticesforachievingthisaiminclude:

Administration

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Maintainingacomprehensiverecordofallradioactivesourcepurchases,usage,movementandstorage.version - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

EnsuringthatanyCodesofSafePracticeareadheredtoanddevelopsensiblewrittenprotocolsandworkingrulesforhandlingradioisotopes.

radioisotopes.

Protocolsfordealingwithminorcontaminationincidentsoftheenvironmentorofstaffmembersmustbeestablished.Rememberthatnoradioisotopes.

matterhowgoodworkpracticesare,minoraccidentsorincidentsinvolvingspillageofradioisotopescantakeplace.

Facility

 

Storageofradioactivesourcesinasecureshieldedenvironment.Speciallydedicatedfacilitiesarerequiredforthestorage,safehandling, manipulationanddispensingofunsealedradioactivesources.Storageareasshouldbedesignedforbothbulkradioisotopeand radioactivewaste.Furthermore,radioactivepatientsshouldberegardedasunsealedsources. 

Adequateventilationofanyworkarea.ThisisparticularlyimportanttominimizetheinhalationofTechnigasandpotentiallyvolatile

radioisotopessuchasI­125andI­131.Itispreferabletousefumehoodswhenworkingwithvolatilematerials.

Benchesshouldbemanufacturedwithsmooth,hardimpervioussurfaceswithappropriatesplash­backstoallowreadydecontamination followinganyspillageofradioisotopes.Laboratoryworkshouldbeperformedinstainlesssteeltrayslinedwithabsorbentpaper.

Excretionofradioactivematerialsbypatientsmaybeviafaeces,urine,saliva,blood,exhaledbreathortheskin.Provisiontodealwith anyorallofthesepotentialpathwaysforcontaminationmustbemade.

Provisionforcollectionandpossiblestorageofbothliquidandsolidradioactivewastemaybenecessaryinsomecircumstances.Mostanyorallofthesepotentialpathwaysforcontaminationmustbemade.

short­lived,watersolubleliquidwastecanbeflushedintothesewersbutlongerlivedisotopessuchasI­131mayhavetobestoredfor

decay.Suchwastemustbeadequatelycontainedandlabelledduringstorage.

Equipment

 

Ensurethatappropriatesurveymonitorsareavailabletodetermineifanycontaminationhasoccurredandtoassistindecontamination 

procedures.Routinemonitoringofpotentiallycontaminatedareasmustbeperformed.

Ensurethatallpotentiallyexposedstaffareissuedwithindividualpersonnelmonitors.

Protectiveclothingsuchasgowns,smocks,overbootsandglovesshouldbeprovidedandworntopreventcontaminationofthepersonnel

handlingtheradioactivity.Inparticular,glovesmustbewornwhenadministeringradioactivematerialsorallyorintravenouslytopatients.It

shouldbenotedthatpenetrationofglovesmayoccurwhenhandlingsomeiodinecompoundssothatwearingasecondpairofglovesis

recommended.Inanyevent,glovesshouldbechangedfrequentlyanddiscardedonestreatedasradioactivewaste.

Behaviours

 

Eatinganddrinkingoffood,smoking,andtheapplicationofcosmeticsisprohibitedinlaboratoriesinwhichunsealedsourcesareutilized. 

Mouthpipettingofanyradioactivesubstanceistotallyprohibited.

Precautionsshouldbetakentoavoidpunctures,cuts,abrasionsandanyotheropenskinwoundswhichotherwisemightallowegressofMouthpipettingofanyradioactivesubstanceistotallyprohibited. radiopharmaceuticalsintothebloodstream. Optimization

radiopharmaceuticalsintothebloodstream.

Optimization

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Alwaysensurethatthereisanetbenefitresultingfromthepatientprocedure.Canthediagnosisortreatmentbemadebyrecoursetoanversion - Wikibooks, open books for an open world alternativemeansusingnonionizingradiation?

alternativemeansusingnonionizingradiation?

Ensurethatallstaff,includingphysicians,technologists,nursesandinternsandotherstudents,whoareinvolvedinthepracticeofnuclearalternativemeansusingnonionizingradiation?

medicinereceivetherelevantleveloftrainingandeducationappropriatetotheirassignedtasks.Thetrainingprogramcouldbeinthe

formofseminars,refreshercoursesandinformaltutorials.

AsubstantiveQualityAssurance(QA)programshouldbeimplementedtoensurethatthefunctionoftheDoseCalibrator,Gammaformofseminars,refreshercoursesandinformaltutorials. Camera,computerandotherancillaryequipmentisoptimized.

Camera,computerandotherancillaryequipmentisoptimized.

Thepotentialhazardstostaffinanuclearmedicineenvironmentinclude:

Milkingthe 9 9 m Tcgenerator,drawingupandmeasuringthequantityofradioisotopepriortoadministration. 99m Tcgenerator,drawingupandmeasuringthequantityofradioisotopepriortoadministration.

Deliveringtheactivitytothepatientbyinjectionorothermeansandpositioningthenowradioactivepatientintheimagingdevice.

Removingthepatientsfromtheimagingdeviceandreturningthemtothewardwheretheymaycontinuetorepresentaradiationhazard

forsometime.ForTc­99m,ashort­livedradionuclidethehazardperiodwillbeonlyafewhoursbutfortherapeuticisotopesthe

hazardousperiodmaybeseveraldays.

Disposalofradioactivewasteincludingbodyfluids,suchasbloodandurine,butalsoswabs,syringes,needles,papertowelsetc.hazardousperiodmaybeseveraldays. Cleaninguptheimagingareaaftertheprocedure. Contamination.

Cleaninguptheimagingareaaftertheprocedure.Contamination.

Contamination.Cleaninguptheimagingareaaftertheprocedure.

Thetablebelowliststhedoseratesfrompatientshavingnuclearmedicineexaminations.Ingeneral,thehazardsfromhandlingordealingwithradioactive

patientsariseintwoparts:

Externalhazard:Thiswillbethecasewhentheradioisotopeemitspenetratinggamma­rays.Usually,thishazardcanbeminimisedbypatientsariseintwoparts: employingshieldingandsensibleworkpractices.

employingshieldingandsensibleworkpractices.

Radioactivecontamination:Thisispotentiallyofmoreconcernasitmayleadtotheinhalationoringestionofradioactivematerialbystaff.employingshieldingandsensibleworkpractices.

Possiblesourcesofcontaminationareradioactiveblood,urineandsaliva,emanatingfromapatient,orairborneradioactivevapour.

Sensibleworkpractices,whichinvolvehighlevelsofpersonalhygiene,shouldensurethatcontaminationisnotamajorissue.

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Doseratesfrompatientsfollowingadministration.

Doseratesfrompatientsfollowingadministration.

OneofthemostcommonnuclearmedicinediagnosticproceduresisthebonescanusingtheisotopeTc­99m.Theexposurerateat1metrefromatypical

patientwillpeakatapproximately3μSvperhourimmediatelyafterinjectiondroppingsteadilybecauseofradioactivitydecayandthroughexcretionsothat

after2hoursitwillbeabout1.5μSvperhour.Neglectinganyfurtherexcretion,thetotalexposurereceivedbyanindividual,shouldthatpersonstandone

meterfromthepatientforthewholeofthefirst24hours,wouldbe~17μSv.Forapersonat3metersfromthepatientthisnumberwouldreduceto1.7μSv

andforadistanceof5metresitwouldbe~0.7μSv.Thesevalueshavebeenestimatedonthebasisoftheinversesquarelaw.

Patientsshouldbeencouragedtodrinksubstantialquantitiesofliquidfollowingtheirscan,asthiswillimproveexcretionandaidinminimizingnotonlytheir

radiationdosebutalsothatofnursingstaff.

radiationdosebutalsothatofnursingstaff.

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AttenuationofGamma­Rays

Wecoveredtheinteractionofgamma­rayswithmatterfromadescriptiveviewpointinthepreviouschapterandwesawthatthe

ComptonandPhotoelectricEffectswerethemajormechanisms.Wewillconsiderthesubjectagainherebutthistimefroman

analyticalperspective.Thiswillallowustodevelopamoregeneralunderstandingofthephenomenon.

NotethatthetreatmentherealsoreferstotheattenuationofX­rayssince,aswenotedbeforegamma­raysandX­raysare

essentiallythesamephysicalentities.

Ourtreatmentbeginswithadescriptionofasimpleradiationexperimentwhichcanbeperformedeasilyinthelaboratoryand

whichmanyoftheearlypioneersinthisfielddid.Wewillthenbuildontheinformationobtainedfromsuchanexperimentto

developasimpleequationandsomesimpleconceptswhichwillallowusgeneralisethesituationtoanyattenuationsituation.

TheComptoneffect

TheComptoneffect

AttenuationExperiment

Theexperimentisquitesimple.Itinvolvesfiringanarrowbeamofgamma­raysatamaterialandmeasuringhowmuchoftheradiationgetsthrough.Wecan

varytheenergyofthegamma­raysweuseandthetypeofabsorbingmaterialaswellasitsthicknessanddensity.

Theexperimentalset­upisillustratedinthefigurebelow.Werefertotheintensityoftheradiationwhichstrikestheabsorberastheincidentintensity,I 0 ,and theintensityoftheradiationwhichgetsthroughtheabsorberasthetransmittedintensity,I x .Noticealsothatthethicknessoftheabsorberisdenotedbyx.

Fromwhatwecoveredinthepreviouschapterwecanappreciatethatsomeofthegamma­rayswillbesubjectedtointeractionssuchasthePhotoelectric

EffectandtheComptonEffectastheypassthroughtheabsorber.Thetransmittedgamma­rayswillinthemainbethosewhichpassthroughwithoutany

interactionsatall.

Wecanthereforeexpecttofindthatthetransmittedintensitywillbelessthantheincidentintensity,thatis

Butbyhowmuchyoumightask.BeforeweconsiderthisletusdenotethedifferencebetweenI x andI 0 as∆I,thatis

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EffectofAtomicNumber

Letusstartexploringthemagnitudeof∆Ibyplacingdifferentabsorbersinturnintheradiationbeam.Whatwewouldfindisthatthemagnitudeof∆Iis highlydependentontheatomicnumberoftheabsorbingmaterial.Forexamplewewouldfindthat∆Iwouldbequitelowinthecaseofanabsorber

madefromcarbon(Z=6)andverylargeinthecaseoflead(Z=82).

Wecangainanappreciationofwhythisissofromthefollowingfigure:

Thefigureillustratesahighatomicnumberabsorberbythelargecircleswhichrepresentindividualatomsandalowatomicnumbermaterialbysmaller

circles.Theincidentradiationbeamisrepresentedbythearrowsenteringeachabsorberfromtheleft.Noticethattheatomsofthehighatomicnumber

absorberpresentlargertargetsfortheradiationtostrikeandhencethechancesforinteractionsviathePhotoelectricandComptonEffectsisrelatively

high.Theattenuationshouldthereforeberelativelylarge.

Inthecaseofthelowatomicnumberabsorberhowevertheindividualatomsaresmallerandhencethechancesofinteractionsarereduced.Inother

wordstheradiationhasagreaterprobabilityofbeingtransmittedthroughtheabsorberandtheattenuationisconsequentlylowerthaninthehigh

atomicnumbercase.

Withrespecttoourspaceshipanalogyusedinthepreviouschaptertheatomicnumbercanbethoughtofasthesizeofindividualmeteorsinthemeteor

cloud.

Ifweweretopreciselycontrolourexperimentalset­upandcarefullyanalyseourresultswewouldfindthat:

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Thereforeifweweretodoubletheatomicnumberofourabsorberwewouldincreasetheattenuationbyafactoroftwocubed,thatis8,ifwewereto

tripletheatomicnumberwewouldincreasetheattenuationbyafactorof27,thatisthreecubed,andsoon.

Itisforthisreasonthathighatomicnumbermaterials(e.g.Pb)areusedforradiationprotection.

EffectofDensity

Asecondapproachtoexploringthemagnitudeof∆Iistoseewhathappenswhenwechangethedensityoftheabsorber.Wecanseefromthe

followingfigurethatalowdensityabsorberwillgiverisetolessattenuationthanahighdensityabsorbersincethechancesofaninteractionbetween

theradiationandtheatomsoftheabsorberarerelativelylower.

Soinouranalogyofthespaceshipenteringameteorcloudthinkofmeteorcloudsofdifferentdensityandthechancesofthespaceshipcollidingwitha

meteor.

EffectofThickness

Athirdfactorwhichwecouldvaryisthethicknessoftheabsorber.Asyoushouldbeabletopredictatthisstagethethickertheabsorberthegreaterthe

attenuation.

EffectofGamma­RayEnergy

Finallyinourexperimentwecouldvarytheenergyofthegamma­raybeam.Wewouldfindwithoutgoingintoitinanygreatdetailthatthegreaterthe

energyofthegamma­raysthelesstheattenuation.Youmightliketothinkofitintermsoftheenergywithwhichthespaceshipapproachesthemeteor

cloudandthelikelihoodofaslowspaceshipgettingthroughasopposedtoaspaceshiptravellingwithahigherenergy.

MathematicalModel

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Wewillconsideramathematicalmodelherewhichwillhelpustoexpressourexperimentalobservationsinmoregeneralterms.Youwillfindthatthe

mathematicalapproachadoptedandtheresultobtainedisquitesimilartowhatweencounteredearlierwithRadioactiveDecay.Soyouwillnothavetoplod

yourwaythroughanynewmathsbelow,justadifferentapplicationofthesameformofmathematicalanalysis!

Letusstartquitesimplyandassumethatwevaryonlythethicknessoftheabsorber.Inotherwordsweuseanabsorberofthesamematerial(i.e.same

atomicnumber)andthesamedensityandusegamma­raysofthesameenergyfortheexperiment.Onlythethicknessoftheabsorberischanged.

Fromourreasoningaboveitiseasytoappreciatethatthemagnitudeof∆Ishouldbedependentontheradiationintensityaswellasthethicknessofthe

absorber,thatisforaninfinitesimallysmallchangeinabsorberthickness:

theminussignindicatingthattheintensityisreducedbytheabsorber.

Turningtheproportionalityinthisequationintoanequality,wecanwrite:

wheretheconstantofproportionality,μ,iscalledtheLinearAttenuationCoefficient.

DividingacrossbyIwecanrewritethisequationas:

Sothisequationdescribesthesituationforanytinychangeinabsorberthickness,dx.Tofindoutwhathappensforthecompletethicknessofanabsorberwe simplyaddupwhathappensineachsmallthickness.Inotherwordsweintegratetheaboveequation.Expressingthismoreformallywecansaythatfor thicknessesfromx=0toanyotherthicknessx,theradiationintensitywilldecreasefromI 0 toI x ,sothat:

Thisfinalexpressiontellsusthattheradiationintensitywilldecreaseinanexponentialfashionwiththethicknessoftheabsorberwiththerateofdecrease beingcontrolledbytheLinearAttenuationCoefficient.Theexpressionisshowningraphicalformbelow.Thegraphplotstheintensityagainstthickness,x.We canseethattheintensitydecreasesfromI 0 ,thatisthenumberatx=0,inarapidfashioninitiallyandthenmoreslowlyintheclassicexponentialmanner.

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Graphicalrepresentationofthedependenceofradiationintensityonthe

thicknessofabsorber:Intensityversusthicknessontheleftandthe

naturallogarithmoftheintensityversusthicknessontheright.

naturallogarithmoftheintensityversusthicknessontheright.
naturallogarithmoftheintensityversusthicknessontheright.

TheinfluenceoftheLinearAttenuationCoefficientcanbeseeninthenextfigure.Allthreecurveshereareexponentialinnature,onlytheLinearAttenuation

Coefficientisdifferent.NoticethatwhentheLinearAttenuationCoefficienthasalowvaluethecurvedecreasesrelativelyslowlyandwhentheLinear

AttenuationCoefficientislargethecurvedecreasesveryquickly.

Exponentialattenuationexpressedusinga small,mediumandlargevalueoftheLinear AttenuationCoefficient,µ.

Exponentialattenuationexpressedusinga

small,mediumandlargevalueoftheLinear

AttenuationCoefficient,µ.

TheLinearAttenuationCoefficientischaracteristicofindividualabsorbingmaterials.Somelikecarbonhaveasmallvalueandareeasilypenetratedby

gamma­rays.OthermaterialssuchasleadhavearelativelylargeLinearAttenuationCoefficientandarerelativelygoodabsorbersofradiation:

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LinearAttenuationCoefficients(incm ­1 ) forarangeofmaterialsatgamma­ray

energiesof100,200and500keV.

Absorber

100keV

200keV

500keV

Air

0.000195

0.000159

0.000112

Water

0.167

0.136

0.097

Carbon

0.335

0.274

0.196

Aluminium

0.435

0.324

0.227

Iron

2.72

1.09

0.655

Copper

3.8

1.309

0.73

Lead

59.7

10.15

1.64

Thematerialslistedinthetableaboveareair,waterandarangeofelementsfromcarbon(Z=6)throughtolead(Z=82)andtheirLinearAttenuation

Coefficientsaregivenforthreegamma­rayenergies.ThefirstpointtonoteisthattheLinearAttenuationCoefficientincreasesastheatomicnumberofthe absorberincreases.Forexampleitincreasesfromaverysmallvalueof0.000195cm ­1 forairat100keVtoalmost60cm ­1 forlead.Thesecondpointtonote isthattheLinearAttenuationCoefficientforallmaterialsdecreaseswiththeenergyofthegamma­rays.Forexamplethevalueforcopperdecreasesfrom about3.8cm ­1 at100keVto0.73cm ­1 at500keV.Thethirdpointtonoteisthatthetrendsinthetableareconsistentwiththeanalysispresentedearlier.

Finallyitisimportanttoappreciatethatouranalysisaboveisonlystrictlytruewhenwearedealingwithnarrowradiationbeams.Otherfactorsneedtobe

takenintoaccountwhenbroadradiationbeamsareinvolved.

HalfValueLayer

AswithusingtheHalfLifetodescribetheRadioactiveDecayLawanindicatorisusuallyderivedfromtheexponentialattenuationequationabovewhichhelps

usthinkmoreclearlyaboutwhatisgoingon.ThisindicatoriscalledtheHalfValueLayeranditexpressesthethicknessofabsorbingmaterialwhichis

neededtoreducetheincidentradiationintensitybyafactoroftwo.Fromagraphicalpointofviewwecansaythatwhen:

thethicknessofabsorberistheHalfValueLayer:

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TheHalfValueLayerforarangeofabsorbersislistedinthefollowingtableforthreegamma­rayenergies:

HalfValueLayers(incm)forarange ofmaterialsatgamma­rayenergiesof

100,200and500keV.

Absorber

100keV

200keV

500keV

Air

3555

4359

6189

Water

4.15

5.1

7.15

Carbon

2.07

2.53

3.54

Aluminium

1.59

2.14

3.05

Iron

0.26

0.64

1.06

Copper

0.18

0.53

0.95

Lead

0.012

0.068

0.42

ThefirstpointtonoteisthattheHalfValueLayerdecreasesastheatomicnumberincreases.Forexamplethevalueforairat100keVisabout35metersand

itdecreasestojust0.12mmforleadatthisenergy.Inotherwords35mofairisneededtoreducetheintensityofa100keVgamma­raybeambyafactorof

twowhereasjust0.12mmofleadcandothesamething.ThesecondthingtonoteisthattheHalfValueLayerincreaseswithincreasinggamma­rayenergy.

Forexamplefrom0.18cmforcopperat100keVtoabout1cmat500keV.Thirdlynotethatrelativetothedataintheprevioustablethereisareciprocal

relationshipbetweentheHalfValueLayerandtheLinearAttenuationCoefficient,whichwewillnowinvestigate.

RelationshipbetweenμandtheHVL

AswasthecasewiththeRadioactiveDecayLaw,whereweexploredtherelationshipbetweentheHalfLifeandtheDecayConstant,arelationshipcanbe

derivedbetweentheHalfValueLayerandtheLinearAttenuationCoefficient.WecandothisbyusingthedefinitionoftheHalfValueLayer:

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when

andinsertingitintheexponentialattenuationequation,thatis:

togive

Therefore

and

TheselasttwoequationsexpresstherelationshipbetweentheLinearAttenuationCoefficientandtheHalfValueLayer.Theyareveryusefulasyouwillsee

whensolvingnumericalquestionsrelatingtoattenuationandfrequentlyformthefirststepinsolvinganumericalproblem.

MassAttenuationCoefficient

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WeimpliedabovethattheLinearAttenuationCoefficientwasusefulwhenwewereconsideringanabsorbingmaterialofthesamedensitybutofdifferent

thicknesses.Arelatedcoefficientcanbeofvaluewhenwewishtoincludethedensity,ρ,oftheabsorberinouranalysis.ThisistheMassAttenuation

Coefficientwhichisdefinedasthe:

ThemeasurementunitusedfortheLinearAttenuationCoefficientinthetableaboveiscm ­1 ,andacommonunitofdensityisthegcm ­3 .Youmightliketo deriveforyourselfonthisbasisthatthecm 2 g ­1 istheequivalentunitoftheMassAttenuationCoefficient.

Questions

Twoquestionsaregivenbelowtohelpyoudevelopyourunderstandingofthematerialpresentedinthischapter.Thefirstoneisrelativelystraight­forwardand

willexerciseyourapplicationoftheexponentialattenuationequation.Thesecondquestionisalotmorechallengingandwillhelpyourelateexponential

attenuationtoradioactivityandradiationexposure.

Question1

Howmuchaluminiumisrequiredtoreducetheintensityofa200keVgamma­raybeamto10%ofitsincidentintensity?AssumethattheHalfValueLayerfor

200keVgamma­raysinAlis2.14cm.

Answer

Thequestionphrasedintermsofthesymbolsusedaboveis:

WearetoldthattheHalfValueLayeris2.14cm.ThereforetheLinearAttenuationCoefficientis

Nowcombiningallthiswiththeexponentialattenuationequation:

wecanwrite:

Therefore

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Sothethicknessofaluminiumrequiredtoreducethesegamma­raysbyafactoroftenisabout7cm.Thisrelativelylargethicknessisthereasonwhy

aluminiumisnotgenerallyusedinradiationprotection­itsatomicnumberisnothighenoughforefficientandsignificantattenuationofgamma­rays.

YoumightliketotrythisquestionforthecasewhenPbistheabsorber­butyouwillneedtofindouttheHalfValueLayerforthe200keVgamma­rays

yourself!

Here'sahintthough:havealookatoneofthetablesabove.

Andhere'stheanswerforyoutocheckwhenyou'vefinished:2.2mm.

InotherwordsarelativelythinthicknessofPbisrequiredtodothesamejobas7cmofaluminium.

Question2

A10 5 MBqsourceof 137 CsistobecontainedinaPbboxsothattheexposurerate1mawayfromthesourceislessthan0.5mR/hour.IftheHalfValue Layerfor 137 Csgamma­raysinPbis0.6cm,whatthicknessofPbisrequired?TheSpecificGammaRayConstantfor 137 Csis3.3Rhr ­1 mCi ­1 at1cm.

Answer

Thisisafairlytypicalquestionwhichariseswhensomeoneisusingradioactivematerials.Wewishtouseacertainquantityofthematerialandwewish

tostoreitinaleadcontainersothattheexposureratewhenweareworkingacertaindistanceawayisbelowsomelevelforsafetyreasons.Weknow

theradioactivityofthematerialwewillbeusing.ButitsquotedinSIunits.Welookupareferencebooktofindouttheexposurerateforthis

radioisotopeandfindthattheSpecificGammaRayConstantisquotedintraditionalunits.Justasinourquestion!

Soletusstartbygettingourunitsright.TheSpecificGammaRayConstantisgivenas:

3.3Rhr ­1 mCi ­1 at1cmfromthesource.

Thisisequalto:

3300mRhr ­1 mCi ­1 at1cmfromthesource,

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whichisequalto:

onthebasisoftheInverseSquareLaw.Thisresultexpressedperbecquerelis

since1mCi=3.7x10 7 Bq.Andthereforefor10 5 MBq,theexposurerateis:

Thatistheexposurerate1meterfromoursourceis891.9mRhr ­1 .

Wewishtoreducethisexposurerateaccordingtothequestiontolessthan0.5mRhr ­1 usingPb.

YoushouldbeableatthisstagetousetheexponentialattenuationequationalongwiththeHalfValueLayerforthesegamma­raysinPbtocalculate

thatthethicknessofPbrequiredisabout6.5cm.

ExternalLinks

MucalontheWeb(http://www.csrri.iit.edu/mucal.html) MucalontheWeb(http://www.csrri.iit.edu/mucal.html)­anonlineprogramwhichcalculatesx­rayabsorptioncoefficients­byPathikritBandyopadhyay,

TheCenterforSynchrotronRadiationResearchandInstrumentationattheIllinoisInstituteofTechnology.

fromNationalInstituteofScience&Technology,USA.

fromNationalInstituteofScience&Technology,USA. Gas­FilledRadiationDetectors

Gas­FilledRadiationDetectors

Wehavelearnedinthelasttwochaptersabouthowradiationinteractswithmatterandwearenowinapositiontoapplyourunderstandingtothedetectionof

radiation.

OneofthemajoroutcomesoftheinteractionofradiationwithmatteristhecreationofionsaswesawinChapter5.Thisoutcomeisexploitedingas­filled

detectorsasyouwillseeinthischapter.Thedetectorinthiscaseisessentiallyagas,inthatitistheatomsofagaswhichareionisedbytheradiation.We

willseeinthenextchapterthatsolidscanalsobeusedasradiationdetectorsbutfornowwewilldealwithgasesandbeintroducedtodetectorssuchasthe

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Beforeconsideringthesespecifictypesofgas­filleddetectorswewillfirstofallconsiderthesituationfromaverygeneralperspective.

Gas­FilledDetectors

usefulfordiagnosticpurposes.

Thereareactuallytwoparticlesgeneratedwhenanionisproduced­thepositiveionitselfandanelectron.These

twoparticlesarecollectivelycalledanionpair.Thedetectionoftheproductionofionpairsinthegasisthebasis

uponwhichgasdetectorsoperate.Themannerinwhichthisisdoneisbyusinganelectricfieldtosweepthe

electronsawaytoapositivelychargedelectrodeandtheionstoanegativelychargedelectrode.

Letusconsideraverysimplearrangementasshowninthefollowingfigure:

Herewehavetwoelectrodeswiththegasbetweenthem.Somethinglikeacapacitorwithagasdielectric.

Thegaswhichisusedistypicallyaninertgas,forexampleargonorxenon.Thereasonforusinganinertgasissothatchemicalreactionswillnotoccurwithin

thegasfollowingtheionisationswhichcouldchangethecharacteristicsofourdetector.

Adcvoltageisplacedbetweenthetwoelectrodes.Asaresultwhentheradiationinteractswithagasatomtheelectronwillmovetowardsthepositive

electrodeandtheionwillmovetowardsthenegativeelectrode.Butwillthesechargesreachtheirrespectiveelectrodes?Theanswerisobviouslydependenton

themagnitudeofthedcvoltage.Forexampleifatoneextremewehadadcvoltageofamicrovolt(thatis,onemillionthofavolt)theresultantelectricfield

maybeinsufficienttomovetheionpairveryfarandthetwoparticlesmayrecombinetoreformthegasatom.Attheotherextremesupposeweapplieda

millionvoltsbetweenthetwoelectrodes.Inthiscasewearelikelytogetsparksflyingbetweenthetwoelectrodes­alightningboltifyoulike­andour

detectormightactsomethinglikeaneonsign.Somewhereinbetweenthesetwoextremesthoughweshouldbeabletoprovideasufficientattractiveforcefor

theionandelectrontomovetotheirrespectiveelectrodeswithoutrecombinationorsparkingoccurring.

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Wewilllookatthissubjectinmoredetailbelow.Beforewedoletusseehowtheconceptofthesimpledetectorillustratedaboveisappliedinpractice.The

gas­filledchamberisgenerallycylindricalinshapeinrealdetectors.Thisshapehasbeenfoundtobemoreefficientthantheparallelelectrodearrangement

shownabove.

Across­sectionalviewthroughthiscylinderisshowninthefollowingfigure:

Thepositiveelectrodeconsistsofathinwirerunningthroughthecentreofthecylinderandthenegativeelectrodeconsistsofthewallofthecylinder.In

principlewecouldmakesuchadetectorbygettingasectionofametalpipe,mountingawirethroughitscentre,fillingitwithaninertgasandsealingtheends

ofthepipe.Actualdetectorsarealittlebitmorecomplexhoweverbutletusnotgetside­trackedatthisstage.

Weapplyadcvoltageviaabatteryorviaadcvoltagesupplyandconnectitasshowninthefigureusingaresistor,R.Now,assumethatagamma­rayenters

thedetector.Ionpairswillbeproducedinthegas­theionsheadingtowardstheouterwallandtheelectronsheadingtowardsthecentrewire.Letusthink

abouttheelectronsforamoment.Whentheyhitthecentrewirewecansimplythinkofthemasenteringthewireandflowingthroughtheresistortogettothe

positiveterminalofthedcvoltagesupply.TheseelectronsflowingthroughtheresistorconstituteanelectriccurrentandasaresultofOhm'sLawavoltageis

generatedacrosstheresistor.Thisvoltageisamplifiedbyanamplifierandsometypeofdeviceisusedtoregistertheamplifiedvoltage.Aloud­speakerisa

fairlysimpledevicetouseforthispurposeandthegenerationofavoltagepulseismanifestbyaclickfromtheloud­speaker.Otherdisplaydevicesincludea

ratemeterwhichdisplaysthenumberofvoltagepulsesgeneratedperunittime­somethinglikeaspeedometerinacar­andapulsecounter(orscaler)which

countsthenumberofvoltagepulsesgeneratedinasetperiodoftime.Avoltagepulseisfrequentlyreferredtoinpracticeasacountandthenumberof

voltagepulsesgeneratedperunittimeisfrequentlycalledthecountrate.

DCVoltageDependence

Ifweweretobuildadetectorandelectroniccircuitasshowninthefigureabovewecouldconductanexperimentthatwouldallowustoexploretheeffectof

thedcvoltageonthemagnitudeofthevoltagepulsesproducedacrosstheresistor,R.Notethatthetermpulseheightisfrequentlyusedinthisfieldtorefer

tothemagnitudeofvoltagepulses.

Ideally,wecouldgeneratearesultsimilartothatillustratedinthefollowingfigure:

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Thegraphillustratesthedependenceofthepulseheightonthedcvoltage.Notethattheverticalaxisrepresentingthepulseheightisonalogarithmicscale

forthesakeofcompressingalargelinearscaleontoareasonably­sizedgraph.

Theexperimentalresultscanbedividedintofiveregionsasshown.Wewillnowconsidereachregioninturn.

RegionA HereV d c isrelativelylowsothatrecombinationofpositiveionsandelectronsoccurs.Asaresultnotallionpairsarecollectedandthe HereV dc isrelativelylowsothatrecombinationofpositiveionsandelectronsoccurs.Asaresultnotallionpairsarecollectedandthe

voltagepulseheightisrelativelylow.Itdoesincreaseasthedcvoltageincreaseshoweverastheamountofrecombinationreduces.

RegionB V d c issufficientlyhighinthisregionsothatonlyanegligibleamountofrecombinationoccurs.Thisistheregionwhereatypeofdetector V dc issufficientlyhighinthisregionsothatonlyanegligibleamountofrecombinationoccurs.Thisistheregionwhereatypeofdetector

calledtheIonizationChamberoperates.

RegionC V d c issufficientlyhighinthisregionsothatelectronsapproachingthecentrewireattainsufficientenergybetweencollisionswiththe V dc issufficientlyhighinthisregionsothatelectronsapproachingthecentrewireattainsufficientenergybetweencollisionswiththe

electronsofgasatomstoproducenewionpairs.Thusthenumberofelectronsisincreasedsothattheelectricchargepassingthroughtheresistor,R,

maybeuptoathousandtimesgreaterthanthechargeproducedinitiallybytheradiationinteraction.Thisistheregionwhereatypeofdetectorcalled

theProportionalCounteroperates.

RegionD V d c V dc issohighthatevenaminimally­ionizingparticlewillproduceaverylargevoltagepulse.Theinitialionizationproducedbytheradiation

triggersacompletegasbreakdownasanavalancheofelectronsheadstowardsandspreadsalongthecentrewire.ThisregioniscalledtheGeiger­

MüllerRegion,andisexploitedintheGeigerCounter.

RegionE HereV d c ishighenoughforthegastocompletelybreakdownanditcannotbeusedtodetectradiation. HereV dc ishighenoughforthegastocompletelybreakdownanditcannotbeusedtodetectradiation.

WewillnowconsiderfeaturesoftheIonisationChamberandtheGeigerCounterinmoredetail.

IonisationChamber

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Theionisationchamberconsistsofagas­filleddetectorenergisedbyarelativelylowdcvoltage.Wewillfirstofallmakeanestimateofthevoltagepulse

heightgeneratedbythistypeofdetector.Wewillthenconsidersomeapplicationsofionisationchambers.

Whenabeta­particleinteractswiththegastheenergyrequiredtoproduceoneionpairisabout30eV.Thereforewhenabeta­particleofenergy1MeVis

completelyabsorbedinthegasthenumberofionpairsproducedis:

Theelectricchargeproducedinthegasistherefore

Ifthecapacitanceoftheionisationchamber(rememberthatwecomparedagas­filleddetectortoacapacitorabove)is100pFthentheamplitudeofthe

voltagepulsegeneratedis:

Becausesuchasmallvoltageisgenerateditisnecessarytouseaverysensitiveamplifierintheelectroniccircuitryconnectedtothechamber.

ionizationchamberfilledwithairisthenaturalinstrumenttouseforsuchmeasurements.

Thesecondapplicationisthemeasurementofradioactivity.Theionisationchamberusedhereisconfiguredinwhatiscalledare­entrantarrangement(see

figurebelow)sothatthesampleofradioactivematerialcanbeplacedwithinthedetectorusingaholderandhencemostoftheemittedradiationcanbe

detected.TheinstrumentiswidelyreferredtoasanIsotopeCalibratorandthetrickleofelectriccurrentgeneratedbysuchadetectoriscalibratedsothata

readinginunitsofradioactivity(forexampleMBqormCi)canbeobtained.Mostwell­runNuclearMedicineDepartmentswillhaveatleastoneofthesedevices

sothatdosesofradioactivitycanbecheckedpriortoadministrationtopatients.

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Herearesomephotographsofionisationchambersdesignedforvariousapplications:

Anexposure­areaproduct detectorusedinradiography.

Anexposure­areaproduct

detectorusedinradiography.

Anisotopecalibratorusedin nuclearmedicine­theblue cylinderontheleftcontainsthe re­entrantchamber.

Anisotopecalibratorusedin

nuclearmedicine­theblue

cylinderontheleftcontainsthe

re­entrantchamber.

Arangeofionisation chambersofdifferentvolumes usingformeasuringradiation exposure.

Arangeofionisation

chambersofdifferentvolumes

usingformeasuringradiation

exposure.

Anexposuremeterusedin radiography.

Anexposuremeterusedin

radiography.

Anexposuremeterusedin radiography.

Anexposuremeterusedin

radiography.

AcontemporaryGeiger counter.

AcontemporaryGeiger

counter.

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GeigerCounter

WesawearlierthattheGeigerCounteroperatesatrelativelyhighdcvoltages(forexample400­900volts)andthatanavalancheofelectronsisgenerated

followingtheabsorptionofradiationinthegas.Thevoltagepulsesproducedbythisdetectorarerelativelylargesincethegaseffectivelyactsasanamplifierof

theelectricchargeproduced.

Therearefourfeaturesofthisdetectorwhichwewilldiscuss.Thefirstisthatasensitiveamplifier(aswasthecasewiththeIonizationChamber)isnot

requiredforthisdetectorbecauseofthegasamplificationnotedabove.

Thesecondfeatureresultsfromthefactthatthegenerationoftheelectronavalanchemustbestoppedinordertoreformthedetector.Inotherwordswhena

radiationparticle/photonisabsorbedbythegasacompletegasbreakdownoccurswhichimpliesthatthegasisincapableofdetectingthenextparticle/photon

whichentersthedetector.Sointheextremecaseoneminutewehavearadiationdetectorandthefollowingmomentwedonot.

Ameansofstoppingtheelectronavalancheisthereforerequired­aprocesscalledQuenching.Onemeansofdoingthisisbyelectronicallyloweringthedc

voltagefollowinganavalanche.Amorewidelyusedmethodofquenchingistoaddasmallamountofaquenchinggastotheinertgas.Forexamplethegas

couldbeargonwithethylalcoholadded.Theethylalcoholisinvapourformandsinceitconsistsofrelativelylargemoleculesenergywhichwouldintheir

absencegiverisetosustainingtheelectronavalancheisabsorbedbythesemolecules.Thelargemoleculesactlikeabrakeineffect.

Irrespectiveofthetypeofquenchingusedthedetectorisinsensitiveforasmallperiodoftimefollowingabsorptionofaradiationparticle/photon.Thisperiodof timeiscalledtheDeadTimeandthisisthethirdfeatureofthisdetectorwhichwewillconsider.Deadtimesarerelativelyshortbutneverthelesssignificant­

beingtypicallyoftheorderof200­400µs.Asaresultthereadingobtainedwiththisdetectorislessthanitshouldbe.Thetruereadingwithoutgoingintodetail

canbeobtainedusingthefollowingequation:

whereTisthetruereading,Aistheactualreadingandτisthedeadtime.Someinstrumentsperformthiscalculationautomatically.

Thefourthfeaturetonoteaboutthisdetectoristhedependenceofitsperformanceonthedcvoltage.TheGeiger­MüllerRegionofourfigureaboveisshown

inmoredetailbelow:

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Noticethatitcontainsaplateauwherethecountrateobtainedisindependentofthedcvoltage.Thecentreofthisplateauiswheremostdetectorsare

operated.Itisclearthatthecountratefromthedetectorisnotaffectedifthedcvoltagefluctuatesabouttheoperatingvoltage.Thisimpliesthatarelatively

straight­forwarddcvoltagesupplycanbeused.Thisfeaturecoupledwiththefactthatasensitiveamplifierisnotneededtranslatesinpracticetoarelatively

inexpensiveradiationdetector.

ExternalLinks

Insideasmokedetector(http://www.howstuffworks.com/inside­smoke.htm) Insideasmokedetector(http://www.howstuffworks.com/inside­smoke.htm)­abouttheionchamberusedinsmokedetectors­fromtheHowStuff Workswebsite.

IonisationChambers(http://www.triumf.ca/safety/rpt/rpt _ 6/node5.html) ­abriefdescriptionfromtheTriumfSafetyGroup. IonisationChambers(http://www.triumf.ca/safety/rpt/rpt_6/node5.html)­abriefdescriptionfromtheTriumfSafetyGroup.

Michigan'sStudentChapteroftheHealthPhysicsSocietywithasectionongasfilleddetectors.

TheGeigerCounter(http://www­istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/Education/wgeiger.html) TheGeigerCounter(http://www­istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/Education/wgeiger.html)­abriefoverviewfromtheNASAGoddardSpaceFlightCenter,USA.

­abriefoverviewfromtheNASAGoddardSpaceFlightCenter,USA. ScintillationDetectors

ScintillationDetectors

Thesecondtypeofradiationdetectorwewilldiscussiscalledthescintillationdetector.Scintillationsareminute

flashesoflightwhichareproducedbycertainmaterialswhentheyabsorbradiation.Thesematerialsarevariously

calledfluorescentmaterials,fluors,scintillatorsorphosphors.

.

.

Ifwehadaradioactivesourceandascintillatorinthelabwecoulddarkentheroom,movethescintillatorcloseto

thesourceandseethescintillations.Thesesmallflashesoflightmightbegreenorblueorsomeothercolour

dependingonthescintillator.Wecouldalsocountthenumberofflashesproducedtogainanestimateofthe

radioactivityofthesource,thatisthemoreflashesoflightseenthemoreradiationpresent.

Thescintillationdetectorwaspossiblythefirstradiationdetectordiscovered.Youmighthaveheardthestoryofthe

discoveryofX­raysbyWilhelmRoentgenin1895.HewasworkingoneeveninginhislaboratoryinWurzburg,

Germanywithadevicewhichfiredabeamofelectronsatatargetinsideanevacuatedglasstube.Whileworkingwiththisdevicehenoticedthatsomeplatino­

bariumcyanidecrystals,whichhejusthappenedtohavecloseby,begantoglow­andthattheystoppedglowingwhenheswitchedthedeviceoff.Roentgen

hadaccidentallydiscoveredanewformofradiation.Hehadalsoaccidentallydiscoveredascintillatordetector.

Althoughscintillationscanbeseenwehaveamoresophisticatedwayofcountingandmeasuringthemtodaybyusingsomeformofphotodetector.

Wewilllearnabouttheconstructionandmodeofoperationofthistypeofdetectorinthischapter.Inaddition,wewillseehowitcanbeusednotjustfor

detectingthepresenceofionizingradiationbutalsoformeasuringtheenergyofthatradiation.

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Beforewedohoweveritisusefultonotethatscintillatorsareverywidelyusedinthemedicalradiationsfield.ForexampletheX­raycassetteusedin

radiographycontainsascintillator(calledanintensifyingscreen)inclosecontactwithaphotographicfilm.AsecondexampleistheX­rayImageIntensifier

usedinfluoroscopywhichcontainsscintillatorscalledphosphors.ScintillatorsarealsousedinsomeCTScannersandaswewillseeinthenextchapter,inthe

GammaCameraandPETScanner.Theirapplicationisnotlimitedtothemedicalradiationsfieldinthatscintillatorsarealsousedasscreensintelevisionsets

andcomputermonitorsandforgeneratinglightinfluorescenttubes­tomentionjusttwocommonapplications.Whatotherapplicationscanyouthinkof?

Soscintillatorsarealotmorecommonthanyoumightinitiallythinkandyouwillthereforefindtheinformationpresentedhereusefultoyounotjustforyour

studiesofnuclearmedicine.

FluorescentMaterials

Somefluorescentmaterialsarelistedinthefollowingtable.Thallium­activatedsodiumiodide,NaI(Tl)isacrystallinematerialwhichiswidelyusedforthe

detectionofgamma­raysinscintillationdetectors.Wewillbelookingatthisinmoredetailbelow.

Anothercrystallinematerialsodium­activatedcaesiumiodide,CsI(Na)iswidelyusedforX­raydetectionindevicessuchastheX­rayimageintensifier.Another onecalledcalciumtungstate,CaWO 4 hasbeenwidelyusedinX­raycassettesalthoughthissubstancehasbeenreplacedbyotherscintillatorssuchas lanthanumoxybromideinmanymoderncassettes.

Noticethatsomescintillationmaterialsareactivatedwithcertainelements.Whatthismeansisthatthe

basematerialhasasmallamountoftheactivationelementpresent.Thetermdopedissometimesused

insteadofactivated.Thisactivatingelementisusedtoinfluencethewavelength(colour)ofthelight

producedbythescintillator.

closecontactwiththescintillatingmaterial.Forexampleifaradioactivesamplehappenedtobeinliquid

formwecouldmixitwithaliquidscintillatorsoastooptimisethechancesofdetectionoftheemitted

radiationandhencehaveaverysensitivedetector.

Afinalexampleisp­terphenylinpolystyrenewhichisascintillatorintheformofaplastic.Thisformcan

beeasilymadeintodifferentshapeslikemostplasticsandisthereforeusefulwhendetectorsofparticular

shapesarerequired.

PhotomultiplierTube

Material

Form

NaI(Tl)

crystal

CsI(Na)

crystal

CaWO 4

crystal

ZnS(Ag)

powder

p­terphenylintoluene

liquid

p­terphenylinpolystyrene

plastic

Ascintillationcrystalcoupledtoaphotomultipliertube(PMT)isillustratedinthefollowingfigure.Theoveralldeviceistypicallycylindricalinshapeandthe

figureshowsacross­sectionthroughthiscylinder:

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Thescintillationcrystal,NaI(Tl)isverydelicateandthisisoneofthereasonsitishousedinanaluminiumcasing.Theinsidewallofthecasingisdesignedso

thatanylightwhichstrikesitisreflecteddownwardstowardsthePMT.

ThePMTitselfconsistsofaphotocathode,afocussinggrid,anarrayofdynodesandananodehousedinanevacuatedglasstube.Thefunctionofthe

photocathodeistoconvertthelightflashesproducedbyradiationattenuationinthescintillationcrystalintoelectrons.Thegridfocusestheseelectronsonto