Thursday, April 23, 2009

[Chemistry Form 4] Isotopes Identified

Most atoms have several naturally occurring isotopes. An isotope is an atom that contains a different number of neutrons in its nucleus from that of other atoms of the same element.

This means that different isotopes of an element have different masses, since both protons and neutrons contribute about equally to the mass of an atom.

Radioisotopes such as phosphorus-32, carbon-14, sodium-24 and iodine-131 emit radiations. Thus, detectors like Geiger-Müller counter are used to trace the presence of radioactive radiations.

A Geiger-Müller counter

Radioisotopes are used in agricultural, medicinal, archaeological and industrial fields.

Some examples of the various uses of radioisotopes are shown as below, in sector;

  • Isotope Uranium-235 used to produce nuclear energy.

  • Isotope Phosphorus-32 or Nitrogen-15 used to traces the rate of nutrient absorptions in plants.
  • Gamma Rays used to sterilises pests. Inhibits the sprouting of potatoes, onions and gingers.

  • Gamma Rays used to checks wear and tear in engines. Gauges or controls the content level in canned food.
  • Strontium-90 used to gauges or controls the thickness of paper and metal in industries.
  • Cobalt-60 used to detects crack in metal or concrete structures.

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