Nuclear Tech Terms, Radioactivity And Its Application

Quick Revision ( SCIENCE SERIES, Art 2):   NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY, RADIOACTIVITY and Its application



Nuclear technology: Nuclear technology is technology that involves the nuclear reaction of atomic nuclei. Among the notable nuclear technologies are nuclear reactors, nuclear medicine and nuclear weapons.



Nuclear energy: The energy produced due to changes in the structure of the nuclei of atoms is called nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is produced manually and via man made operations. Example Sun, nuclear reactors, nuclear weapons etc.

Nuclear fission: In this nuclei of atom splits causing energy to be released. The atom bomb and nuclear reactors work on the principle of fission.

Nuclear fusion: the nuclei of atoms fused together. As a result of this energy is released. This happens only under very hot condition. Example in sun Hydrogen nuclei fused together to form Helium. Hydrogen bomb etc.

Chain reaction: It is a process in which neutrons released in fission produce an additional fission in at least one another nucleus. This nucleus in turn produces neutrons, and the process repeats. This process may be controlled( nuke reactors) or uncontrolled( nuclear weapons)


Radioactivity:   Radioactivity is a physical process. As the name implies it is the act of emitting radiation spontaneously. In simple terms if atomic nucleus is unstable and want to loose some energy, it will release energy in the form of radiations. There are several types of particles or waves that may shoot out of a radioactive nucleus. Alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and neutrons are the most common form of ionizing radiation.

Application of radioactivity:

  • Health:
  1. Found extensive use in diagnosis and therapy eg. Phosphorous-32 is used to identify the cancerous cell. As cancer cell absorb more phosphorous, Iodine 131 is employ to determine cardiac output, plasma volume and fat metabolism and particularly to measure the activity of thyroid gland.
  2. To treat cancer cells: cobalt-60 and cesium-137 administered selectively to malignant tumours and so minimize damage to adjacent healthy tissue.
  • Energy

Nuclear reactors work on the principle of radioactivity. The energy released is utilised for energy generation. Nuclear fission and nuclear fusion are two examples of radioactivity.

  • Strategic purpose

Radioactivity is used to develop the weapon of mass destructions. Hydrogen bomb eg.

  • Food processing:

Used to preserve certain kind of foods by killing microorganism that cause spoilage.

  • Earth sciences:

Used in minerology, used for dating technique , carbon-14 technique

  • Environment

Radioactive tracer are used in smoke detector. To identify even a minute change in the concentration. Used to measure deep water currents in oceans and snow water content in watersheds.

Study of complex processes. For eg how plant generate energy. Thousands of plant metabolic studies have been conducted on amino acids and compounds of sulphur, phosphorous and nitrogen.


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