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Chemistry LibreTexts

Applications of Nuclear Chemistry

Nuclear chemistry has many applications in agriculture, medicine, industry and research. They greatly improve the day to day quality of our lives.

  • Nuclear Reactors
    A nuclear reactor is a device in which nuclear reactions are generated, and the chain reaction is controlled to release large amount of steady heat, thereby producing energy.
  • Nuclear Reactors: Chernobyl
    The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in on April 26, 1986. It is considered the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history. A nuclear meltdown in one of the reactors caused a fire that sent a plume of radioactive fallout that eventually spread all over Europe.
  • Nuclear Reactors: Nuclear Waste
    Nuclear waste is radioactive waste, meaning that it spontaneously emits radiation. It usually originates from the by-products of nuclear reactions in applications such as medicine and research. Radioactive waste degrades with time, releasing alpha, beta, and gamma radiation that pose many health risks to the environment and most organisms, including humans. Due to the harmful nature of nuclear waste, there is strict government regulation on the safe disposal of it.
  • Nuclear Weapons
    A nuclear weapon is commonly defined as a device, which uses a nuclear reaction for destructive means.
  • Radiation in Biology and Medicine
    What comes to mind when you think of radiation? If you ask the average American, radiation would conjure images of deformed humans and malignant diseases, namely cancer. Despite radiation's notorious history, radiation has revolutionized the medical field, enhancing the ability of medical professionals to treat and diagnose diseases.
  • Radiation in Biology and Medicine: Positron Emission Tomography
    Positron emission tomography (PET) is one of the beneficial real-life uses of nuclear chemistry. Simply, it is a handy instrument that physicians use to take images of an individual's body to determine if a person is at risk for a certain disease or carries one. This module will focus on the procedures of a patient receiving a PET scan, the nuclear reactions associated with the images that are produced, commonly used tracer molecules, and useful applications of PET scans in clinical diagnosis.
  • Radiocarbon Dating
    Radiocarbon Dating is the process of determining the age of a sample by examining the amount of C-14 remaining against the known half-life, 5,730 years. The reason this process works is because when organisms are alive they are constantly replenishing their C-14 supply through respiration, providing them with a constant amount of the isotope. However, when an organism ceases to exist, it no longer takes in carbon from its environment and the unstable C-14 isotope begins to decay.
  • Radiocarbon Dating: The Shroud of Turin
    The Shroud of Turin is a linen wrapping cloth that appears to possess the image of Jesus Christ. Some people believe this to be the cloth that he was wrapped in following his crucifixion. In 1988, several groups of scientists were allowed samples of the shroud to subject these samples to 14C dating. The carbon-14 to carbon-12 ratio was found to be 92% of that in living organisms.