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3: Isotopes

  • Page ID
    118786
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    • 3.1: Isotopes - When the Number of Neutrons Varies
      All atoms of the same element have the same number of protons, but some may have different numbers of neutrons. For example, all carbon atoms have six protons, and most have six neutrons as well. But some carbon atoms have seven or eight neutrons instead of the usual six. Atoms of the same element that differ in their numbers of neutrons are called isotopes. Many isotopes occur naturally.
    • 3.2: Atomic Mass: The Average Mass of an Element’s Atoms
      In chemistry we very rarely deal with only one isotope of an element. We use a mixture of the isotopes of an element in chemical reactions and other aspects of chemistry, because all of the isotopes of an element react in the same manner. That means that we rarely need to worry about the mass of a specific isotope, but instead we need to know the average mass of the atoms of an element.
    • 3.3: The Discovery of Radioactivity
      Henri Becquerel, Marie Curie, and Pierre Curie shared the discovery of radioactivity.
    • 3.4: The Effects of Radiation on Life
      We are constantly exposed to radiation from naturally occurring and human-produced sources. This radiation can affect living organisms. Ionizing radiation is the most harmful because it can ionize molecules or break chemical bonds, which damages the molecule and causes malfunctions in cell processes. Types of radiation differ in their ability to penetrate material and damage tissue, with alpha particles the least penetrating but potentially most damaging and gamma rays are most penetrating.
    • 3.5: Types of Radioactivity - Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Decay
      The major types of radioactivity include alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays. Fission is a type of radioactivity in which large nuclei spontaneously break apart into smaller nuclei.
    • 3.6: Natural Radioactivity and Half-Life
      During natural radioactive decay, not all atoms of an element are instantaneously changed to atoms of another element. The decay process takes time and there is value in being able to express the rate at which a process occurs. A useful concept is half-life, which is the time required for half of the starting material to change or decay. Half-lives can be calculated from measurements on the change in mass of a nuclide and the time it takes to occur.
    • 3.7: Radiocarbon Dating: Using Radioactivity to Measure the Age of Fossils and Other Artifacts
      Radiocarbon dating (usually referred to simply as carbon-14 dating) is a radiometric dating method. It uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years old. Carbon has two stable, nonradioactive isotopes: carbon-12 and carbon-13. There are also trace amounts of the unstable radioisotope carbon-14 on Earth.
    • 3.8: Radioactivity in Medicine
      The field of nuclear medicine has expanded greatly in the last twenty years. A great deal of the expansion has come in the area of imaging. This section will focus on nuclear medicine involving the types of nuclear radiation introduced in this chapter.


    3: Isotopes is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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