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Chemistry LibreTexts

8: Radioactivity and Nuclear Processes

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    • 8.1: Nuclear Radiation
      Nuclear reactions are very different from chemical reactions. In chemical reactions, atoms become more stable by participating in a transfer of electrons or by sharing electrons with other atoms. In nuclear reactions, it is the nucleus of the atom that gains stability by undergoing a change of some kind. Some elements have no stable isotopes, which means that any atom of that element is radioactive. For some other elements, only certain isotopes are radioactive.
    • 8.2: Half-Life
      Natural radioactive processes are characterized by a half-life, the time it takes for half of the material to decay radioactively. The amount of material left over after a certain number of half-lives can be easily calculated.
    • 8.3: Effects of Radiation
    • 8.4: Units of Radioactivity
      Radioactivity can be expressed in a variety of units, including rems, rads, and curies.
    • 8.5: Uses of Radioactive Isotopes
      Radioactivity has several practical applications, including tracers, medical applications, dating once-living objects, and preservation of food.
    • 8.6: Nuclear Fission
    • 8.7: Nuclear Fusion
    • 8.8: Nuclear Energy
      Nuclear energy comes from tiny mass changes in nuclei as radioactive processes occur. In fission, large nuclei break apart and release energy; in fusion, small nuclei merge together and release energy.

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