P6 - Radioactive Materials

Alice Hathaway
Flashcards by Alice Hathaway, updated more than 1 year ago
Alice Hathaway
Created by Alice Hathaway over 4 years ago


GCSE Physics Flashcards on P6 - Radioactive Materials, created by Alice Hathaway on 03/31/2016.

Resource summary

Question Answer
Beta Decay Nuclei that have too many neutrons. A neutron turns into a proton, causing the element to change. A beta particle is emitted (same as an electron)
Alpha Decay Released by very heavy nuclei e.g. uranium. An alpha particle is a helium nucleus (2 protons/ 2 neutrons) so changes the element when it is emitted.
Most to least ionising? Alpha Beta Gamma
Most to least penetrating? Gamma Beta Alpha
Stopped by led, emitted as a ray/ wave, doesn't change the element? Gamma radiation
Stopped by paper, slow moving, changes the element Alpha radiation
Stopped by thin metal, moves quickly, changes the element Beta radiation
Half Life The time it takes for half of the atom to decay
Is the number of neutrons in a element fixed? No
What is an Isotope? Atoms with the same number of protons but different number of neutrons. E.g. Carbon 12 (6 of each) Carbon 14 ( 6 protons/ 8 neutrons)
Describe Rutherford's experiment Fired alpha particles at thin gold foil
What did they see? Most alpha particles went straight through, but the odd particle bounced straight back
What did this show? Most mass was concentrated in a small nucleus with lost of empty space around it as most went straight through the foil. The nucleus had a positive charge as the positively charges alpha particles were repelled. if it wasn't, they wouldn't have been repelled or scattered.
What is the 'strong force'? The force that holds the nucleus together - stronger than the repulsive electrostatic force between the protons.
What is Nuclear Fusion? Two nuclei that combine to form a heavier and larger nucleus, emitting energy. This requires a lot of energy to get them close enough for the strong force to hold them together.
Where can nuclear fusion be found naturally? In the sun where hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium atoms, releasing lots of energy as heat and light.
What is E = MC^2? Created by Einstein. E= energy M = mass C = speed of light in a vacuum Can calculate the release of energy during nuclear fission or fusion.
What is nuclear Fission? The splitting apart of larger nuclei to make small ones. It releases 2 or three more neutrons and lots of energy.
How does nuclear fission work? A chain reaction is set up. A neutron splits a nucleus which releases more neutrons. These neutrons then continue to split up more nuclei to release more neutrons.
What is used for nuclear fission? Uranium or plutonium fuel rods.
How is nuclear fission controlled? Control rods are used to absorb some of the neutrons to slow down the reaction. They can be moved in and out to absorb more or less.
What's done with 'low level' waste? Buried in secure landfill sites.
What is 'low level' waste? Most waste from power stations (or medical use ); things like paper and gloves
What is 'intermediate level' waste? Quite radioactive and will stay that way for tens of thousands of years. Things like metal cases of fuel rods and some waste from hospitals.
What is done with 'intermediate level' waste? Sealed in concrete blocks and put into steel canisters for storage.
What is 'high level' waste? From nuclear power stations and so reactive that it generates a lot of heat.
What is done with 'high level' waste? Sealed in gas and steel then cooled for 50 years before being moved to permanent storage.
Irradiation Being exposed to radiation without coming in contact with the source.
Contamination Picking up radioactive material, e.g. breathing it in or getting it on your skin
What can ionising radiation do to cells? It can cause mutations that can cause cancer. High doses can kill cells, causing radiation sickness.
What is radiation measured in? Sieverts (Sv) or Millisieverts (mSv)
What is background radiation? Low level radiation that is around all the time.
What causes background radiation? Natural radioactive elements Space Human activity
When are radioactive elements considered safe? When the radiation they emit is the same level as background radiation.
What can ionising radiation be used for? Treating cancer Sterilising medical equipment Sterilising food Detecting disease using trackers
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