Section Summary

Section Summary

  • Rutherford’s gold foil experiment provided evidence that the atom is composed of a small, dense nucleus with electrons occupying the mostly empty space around it.
  • Analysis of emission spectra shows that energy is emitted from energized gas in discrete quantities.
  • The Bohr model of the atom describes electrons existing in discrete orbits, with discrete energies emitted and absorbed as the electrons decrease and increase in orbital energy.
  • The energy emitted or absorbed by an electron as it changes energy state can be determined with the equation ΔE=EiEfΔE=EiEf, where En=Z2n2Eo(n=1,2,3,...)En=Z2n2Eo(n=1,2,3,...).
  • The wavelength of energy absorbed or emitted by an electron as it changes energy state can be determined by the equation 1λ=R(1nf21ni2)1λ=R(1nf21ni2), where R=1.097×107m−1R=1.097×107m−1.
  • Described as an electron cloud, the quantum model of the atom is the result of de Broglie waves and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle.
  • The structure of the nucleus is defined by its two nucleons, the neutron and proton.
  • Atomic numbers and mass numbers are used to differentiate between various atoms and isotopes. Those numbers can be combined into an easily recognizable form called a nuclide.
  • The size and stability of the nucleus is based upon two forces: the electromagnetic force and strong nuclear force.
  • Radioactive decay is the alteration of the nucleus through the emission of particles or energy.
  • Alpha decay occurs when too many protons exist in the nucleus. It results in the ejection of an alpha particle, as described in the equation XZANYZ2A4N+H24eXZANYZ2A4N+H24e.
  • Beta decay occurs when too many neutrons (or protons) exist in the nucleus. It results in the transmutation of a neutron into a proton, electron, and neutrino. The decay is expressed through the equation XZANYZ+1AN1+e+vXZANYZ+1AN1+e+v. (Beta decay may also transform a proton into a neutron.)
  • Gamma decay occurs when a nucleus in an excited state move to a more stable state, resulting in the release of a photon. Gamma decay is represented with the equation XZANXN+γXZANXN+γ.
  • The penetration distance of radiation depends on its energy, charge, and type of material it encounters.
  • Radioactive half-life is the time it takes a sample of nuclei to decay to half of its original amount.
  • The rate of radioactive decay is defined as the sample’s activity, represented by the equation R=ΔNΔtR=ΔNΔt.
  • Knowing the half-life of a radioactive isotope allows for the process of radioactive dating to determine the age of a material.
  • If the half-life of a material is known, the age of the material can be found using the equation N=NOeλtN=NOeλt.
  • The age of organic material can be determined using the decay of the carbon-14 isotope, while the age of rocks can be determined using the decay of uranium-238.
  • Nuclear fission is the splitting of an atomic bond, releasing a large amount of potential energy previously holding the atom together. The amount of energy released can be determined through the equation E=mc2E=mc2.
  • Nuclear fusion is the combining, or fusing together, of two nuclei. Energy is also released in nuclear fusion as the combined nuclei are closer together, resulting in a decreased strong nuclear force.
  • Fission was used in two nuclear weapons at the conclusion of World War II: the gun-type uranium bomb and the implosion-type plutonium bomb.
  • While fission has been used in both nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors, fusion is capable of releasing more energy per reaction. As a result, fusion is a well-researched, if not yet well-controlled, energy source.
  • Medical imaging occurs when a radiopharmaceutical placed in the body provides information to an array of radiation detectors outside the body.
  • Devices utilizing medical imaging include the Anger camera, SPECT detector, and PET scan.
  • Ionizing radiation can both cure and cause cancer through the manipulation of DNA molecules.
  • Radiation dosage and its effect on the body can be measured using the quantities radiation dose unit (rad), relative biological effectiveness (RBE), and the roentgen equivalent man (rem).