Nuclear bomb? Wait no! Nuclear Chemistry!
When we hear the word nuclear, automatically most of us will ponder about nuclear bombs, and warfield. Hmm, not a very positive thought. But, our chemistry tutor here is happy to introduce to you a fairly foreign term to some; Nuclear Chemistry. Basically, changing the inner number of neutrons or protons will alter the chemical reactivity and the nature of an atom. Similarly, nuclear chemistry would deal with the atoms on a nuclear level. It involves the study of nuclear particles, forces and reactions. Just like how an atom would gain or lose electrons to stabilise the outer shell when the numbers of protons and neutrons are not at their ideal state, the nucleus tends to release some of them to try to reach a stable configuration. In that way, a nucleus decomposes to form a different nucleus, through a process called radioactive decay. This discovery was made by Henri Becquerel which had caused further discoveries such as providing alternatives to fossil fuels as well as providing radioisotopes for use in nuclear medicine.
Applications of Nuclear Chemistry
Let’s take a look at what are the applications of nuclear chemistry. Radionuclides are heavy mass elements that are formed due to the instability of the nucleus. They undergo spontaneous decay or nuclear reaction producing various types of ionising radiation. Some common types of radiation that our chemistry tutor would introduce to you would be alpha (α) particle, beta (β) particle, and gamma (γ) radiation. The decay process of this atomic nuclei is known as radioactivity, as discussed earlier. Radionuclides have their use in nuclear medicine. For that, let us learn a new term; ionising power. The ionizing power (ionization effect) of a particle or radiation refers to the ability to cause ionization of the adjacent particles. In general, a particle with high ionizing power produces more energy to a small region. Thus they are more destructive to the biological materials. This is the basis of a form of radiotherapy known as TAT. This will be further explored in detail in our chemistry tuition.
What is half life? We live our lives halfway!?
Well, half life does not literally mean that we only live half our lifespan. In nuclear chemistry, the half-life of a radioisotope is the average time it takes for half of the remaining undecayed radioactive nuclei to decay to a different nucleus. This means in every half-life of time, on average, half of the un-decayed unstable nuclei of a particular isotope disintegrate. Half life is usually used as a measure of the stability of a particular radioisotope. It is important to note that the radioactivity emissions of any radioactive material generally decreases over time, but never reaches zero. Unstable nuclei would disintegrate to emit alpha, beta, gamma, or other ionising radiation. This occurs at random, as we are unable to predict which one would decay. In our chemistry tuition, our chemistry tutor will be able to explain more about such ionising radiations in detail.
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Chemistry Tuition Singapore @ MY CHEM CAFE
Principal Chemistry Tutor: Mr. Jacky Wong