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What is Radioactivity?
Radioactivity is the spontaneous and random disintergration of unstable nucleus,emmiting, alpha, beta, or gamma radiations.
Radioactive decay is the random process by which unstable nucleus emit alpha, beta or gamma radiations to become more stable
Radioisotopes are isotopes that are radioactive
During radiation decay, more than 1 type of radiation can be emmited at any one time
Properties of fundamental alpha, beta and gamma
Radioactive emission from the decay of unstable atom is invinsible and cannot be seen by our eyes
Radioactive emission does not have smell,taste and is soundless,so it cannot be detected by any of our senses.
Good detector for alpha, beta and gamma
The reason alpha decay occurs is because the nucleus has too many protons which cause excessive repulsion. In an attempt to reduce the repulsion, a Helium nucleus is emitted. The way it works is that the Helium nuclei are in constant collision with the walls of the nucleus and because of its energy and mass, there exists a nonzero probability of transmission. That is, an alpha particle (Helium nucleus) will tunnel out of the nucleus. Here is an example of alpha emission with americium-241:
Beta decay occurs when the neutron to proton ratio is too great in the nucleus and causes instability. In basic beta decay, a neutron is turned into a proton and an electron. The electron is then emitted. Here's a diagram of beta decay with hydrogen-3:
There is also positron emission when the neutron to proton ratio is too small. A proton turns into a neutron and a positron and the postiron is emitted. A positron is basically a positively charged electron. Here's a diagram of positron emission with carbon-11:
The final type of beta decay is known as electron capture and also occurs when the neutron to proton ratio in the nucleus is too small. The nucleus captures an electron which basically turns a proton into a neutron. Here's a diagram of electron capture with beryllium-7:
Gamma decay occurs because the nucleus is at too high an energy. The nucleus falls down to a lower energy state and, in the process, emits a high energy photon known as a gamma particle. Here's a diagram of gamma decay with helium-3:
Half life is the time taken for radioisotope to decay to half of its original quantity.
Different radioisotope have different value of half life.