Nuclear Chemistry Vocabulary

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a general term for any type of energy that emanates or radiates outward in all directions
Electromagnetic Radiation (ER)
radiation moving at the speed of light, ranging from high-energy gamma rays to low energy radio waves; includes visible light
Electromagnetic Spectrum
all the forms of electromagnetic radiation
Ionizing Radiation
radiation with sufficient energy to ionize atoms or molecules (high energy ER); damages DNA
Non-ionizing Radiation
radiation with insufficient energy to ionize atoms or molecules (lower energy ER)
Marie Curie
studied radioactivity and completed much of the pioneering work on nuclear changes.
Won two Nobel Prizes (the first for discovering radioactivity; the second for discovering the radioactive elements of radium and polonium)
Nuclear Reactions
Involve Changes in Particles in an atom’s nucleus and thus cause a change in the atom itself
atoms of the same element having different numbers of neutrons and, there, a different mass number and atomic mass
Hyphen Notation
(example) U-238
Nuclear Notation
(example)14 C
change in the identity of a nucleus because of a change in the number of its protons
Radioactive Isotope
an isotope with an unstable nucleus that undergoes radioactive decay
Radioactive Decay
the spontaneous break-down of a nucleus into a slightly light nucleus, accompanied by the emission of nuclear radiation
Nuclear Radiation
particles or ER emitted from a nucleus during radioactive decay
Alpha Particle
helium nucleus (charge: +2); 2 protons and 2 neutrons bound together emitted from a radioactive nucleus
Beta Particle
electron (charge: -); ejected at a high speed when a neutron changes into a proton and an electron
Gamma Ray
form of high-energy ER (no mass/no charge); often emitted during and simultaneous to, alpha or beta, radioactive decay
time needed for decay of one-half the atoms in a sample of radioactive material
Nuclear Bombardment
nucleus is bombarded with alpha particles, protons, neutrons, or other particles
Nuclear Fission
process in which a heavy nucleus splits to form medium-weight nuclei
Chain Reaction
in fission reactions, neutrons are emitted; these neutrons can split more nuclei and a chain reaction can occur
Critical Mass
mass of fissionable material needed to sustain a nuclear chain reaction
Nuclear Fusion
the process in which light weight nuclei combine to form a heavier, more stable nucleus
Mass Defect
the missing mass of a nuclear reaction that is converted to energy
Categories: Nuclear Chemistry