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Everything You Need To Know About Radioactivity And Alpha Radiation

February 23, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 376

If you have ever wondered what is Radioactivity and could not find the answer then you have come to the right place. Radioactivity is a very interesting phenomenon that occurs in nature as well as in labs where it is done artificially. In this phenomenon, the nucleus of atoms disintegrates by emitting waves of energy called radiation.

The atoms of heavier elements do not have an ideal proton to neutron ratio. This makes them unstable. In order to approach the stable ratio, the atoms go through radioactive decay and in process emit energy or various particles as by products. The most common types of materials showing radioactive decay are Uranium, Strontium, Plutonium and Radium. The reason for the instability in these and other radioactive materials is that they have extra neutrons in their atoms. This creates the imbalance.

Radioactivity is a spontaneous process but owing to advancements in technology, radioactive decay can also be produced artificially in atoms. This is done by bombardment of the nucleus of materials with neutrons, which disturbs the ratio between protons and neutrons.

Radioactive decay is of three types, alpha decay, beta decay and gamma decay. Alpha decay is said to have occurred when the decaying atomic nucleus, emits an alpha particle as a by-product. An alpha particle is a Helium nucleus. It has two neutrons and two protons. This means that the parent nucleus will have mass for less than the original.

Alpha radiation is the most common kind of cluster decay. This means that the parent atom ejects a fixed collection of daughter nucleons and leaves behind another well-defined product. Alpha radiation is a property of relatively heavier atoms among the radioactive materials.

The alpha particles are the heaviest among all three types of radiation. Because of this, the velocity of propagation of these particles is very low. Therefore, the probability of alpha particles interacting with other particles is very high. This in turn makes the Alpha particles lose their energy very quickly and they quickly stop their forward motion within a few centimeters.

Alpha radiation is the most harmful of the three types of Radioactivity as the loss in the energy by the alpha particles is very quick. This deposits more amount of harmful energy in the small volume of space increasing the risk of damage.

Alpha radiation has the least penetrating power among the three types. A thin sheet of paper, a layer of air few centimeters thick or even a layer of dead cells on the skin can stop it. Therefore, it is very safe to touch the alpha radiation although that will not be recommended to do anytime.

Alpha radiation finds its uses in many industries and research fields. For example, smoke detectors employ Alpha emitters in order to sound the alarm when smoke reaches the maximum level. Another application of Alpha radiation is that it provides power and acts as a source for the radioisotope thermoelectric generators used for space probes and artificial heart pacemakers.

Emma L. has been researching the radiation for many years. Radioactivity has become more attractive to her in last few years. As the world is tremendously changing you have to be aware of other facts about radioactivity. Even how to protect yourself.

Source: EzineArticles
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