Application of radiotopes table
Table shows example usage of selected radioisotopes.

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Application of radioisotopes

Chemical element nameIsotopeUsed radiationHalf-life time T1/2Example usage
Americium241Am^{241}Amα\alpha432.7 yearssmoke detectors (fire protection systems)
Cesium137Cs^{137}Csγ\gamma30 yearsindustrial radiography, cesium bomb, thickness measurements
Phosphorous32P^{32}Pβ\beta14.3 daysmedicine (treatment of leukemia)
Iridium192Ir^{192}Irγ\gamma73.8 daysindustrial radiography
Iodine131I^{131}Iγ\gamma8 daysmedicine (thyroid disease)
Cobalt60Co^{60}Coγ\gamma5.26 yearstreatment of neoplastic diseases (cobalt bomb), industrial radiography, radiation devices, lithium scale, equipment for measuring the thickness and measuring the level of liquids in tanks
Plutonium238Pu^{238}Puα\alpha87.7 yearssmoke detectors
Rubidium87Rb^{87}Rbβ\beta50000000000 yearsradioactive dating
Sulfur35S^{35}Sβ\beta87.32 daysmarked atom, mainly in the study of organic compounds
Thalium204Tl^{204}Tlβ\beta3.8 yearsthickness measurements
Carbon14C^{14}Cβ\beta5570 yearsdetermining the age of excavations, monuments, etc., studying the mechanisms of complex reactions (marked atom)
Hydrogen3H^{3}Hβ\beta12.46 yearsluminous paints, research on reaction mechanisms (marked atom)

Some facts

  • Unstable isotopes undergo radioactive decay creating stable ones.
  • Radioactive decay is usually related to emision of:
    • alpha radiation - composed of helium nuclei 4He2+^{4}He^{2+},
    • beta radiation - depending on the decay type composed of electrons (β\beta^{-} decay) or positrons (β+\beta^{+} decay) moving at speed comparable to the speed of light,
    • gamma radiation - electromagnetic radiation with quant energy above 50 keV.
  • Unstable nuclei are sometimes called radioactive isotopes or radioisotopes.
  • Large doses of radiation emitted during nuclear transformations are dangerous to health, and in extreme cases can lead to radiation sickness. On the other hand, small doses such as those that we encounter when taking an X-ray are harmless.
  • The phenomenon of radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by a French physicist Henri Becquerel. He studied various substances for phosphorescence, including uranium salts.
  • An important contribution to the understanding of the phenomenon of radioactivity was made by polish chemist Maria Curie-Skłodowska.
  • In quantitative terms, the unit of radioactivity is 1 bekerel (Bq), which is equivalent to 1 decay per second.

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