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01.09 Nuclear Chemistry

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Overview

  1. What Occurs in a Nuclear Reaction
    1. During a nuclear reaction unstable nucei of an atom release energy in 4 possible forms
      1. Alpha Particles (α)
      2. Beta Particles (β)
      3. Gamma Rays (radiation) (γ)
      4. x-Rays
    2. There are 2 main types of nuclear reactions
      1. Nuclear Fission- when a high energy, unstable heavy nuclei splits into two smaller and lighter nuclei and release energy
        1. ex. The radioisotope Uranium-235, when hit with a neutron, becomes unstable Uranium-236 which creates a chain reaction and creates by-products such as Technetium-99, Molybdenum 99 and Iodine-133
      2. Nuclear Fusion-When two smaller and lighter nuclei combine and form one larger, heavier nuclei and release energy.
        1. ex. Two hydrogen nuclear combine and become one helium atom.
    3. Uses in Healthcare-Radioisotopes used in diagnostics must emit gamma rays and have a short half-life to decay soon after the procedure
      1. PET (positron emission tomography) scans- uses Rubidium-82, Fluorine-18 as the tracer
      2. MPI (Myocardial perfusion imaging) uses Technetium-99
      3. Cobalt-60 used to treat brain tumors
      4. Iodine-131 to treat hyperthyroid and thyroid cancer
      5. Bismuth-213 and lead-212 to attack metastasized cancers such as melanoma, pancreatic, leukemia, ovarian.

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Video Transcript

Welcome to our lesson today on nuclear chemistry.

Nuclear reactions are much different from chemical reactions in that there is a change in the atom’s nucleus. During a nuclear reaction, the unstable nuclei of an atom will release energy in 4 possible forms. 

1)- Alpha particles -which are 2 proton and 2 neutrons bound together and released (it is identical to a helium nucleus)

2) -Beta particles- which are high energy, high speed electrons emitted

3)gamma rays- penetrating electromagnetic radiation (the shortest waves on the electromagnetic spectrum).

4)x-rays- high energy electromagnetic radiation waves that are shorter than UV waves but longer than gamma rays.

So to bring this closer to home let’s talk about an example that you probably have in your house right now and that radiation is in your smoke detector. The radionuclide used is americium-241, which is created by bombarding plutonium with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. It decays by emitting alpha particles and gamma radiation to become neptunium-237. Smoke detectors use a very small quantity of 241Am (about 0.29 micrograms per smoke detector) in the form of americium dioxide.241Am is used as it emits alpha particles which ionize the air in the smoke detector’s ionization chamber. A small electric voltage is applied to the ionized air which gives rise to a small electric current. In the presence of smoke, some of the ions are neutralized, thereby decreasing the current, which activates the detector’s alarm.

There are 2 main types of nuclear reactions. Nuclear fission, which is when high energy, unstable heavy nuclei split into two smaller and lighter nuclei and release energy. An example of this is the radioisotope Uranium-235. When it is  hit with a neutron, it becomes unstable Uranium-236 which creates a chain reaction and creates by-products such as Technetium-99, Molybdenum 99 and Iodine-133.

The other type of reaction is nuclear fusion. This happens when two smaller and lighter nuclei combine and form one larger, heavier nuclei and release energy.

An example of this is when two hydrogens nuclear combine and become one helium atom. Basically what is fueling the sun. 

Nuclear chemistry is used to diagnose, treat and even research a variety of health conditions, namely cancer. Radioisotopes used in healthcare diagnostics must emit gamma rays and have a short half-life to decay soon after the procedure. 1)PET (positron emission tomography) scans- uses Rubidium-82, Fluorine-18 as the tracer, 2) MPI (Myocardial perfusion imaging) uses Technetium-99, 3)Cobalt-60 used to treat brain tumors, 4)Iodine-131 to treat hyperthyroid and thyroid cancer, 5)Bismuth-213 and lead-212 to attack metastasized cancers such as melanoma, pancreatic, leukemia, ovarian.
In summary, nuclear reactions can release energy in the form of particles or rays. There are 2 main types of nuclear reactions nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Nuclear fission splits a nucleus into 2 whereas nuclear fusion takes two smaller nuclei and joins them into one. Both of these processes take atoms from an unstable form to eventually a more stable one. Radioisotopes in healthcare are used to diagnose, treat and even further research diseases like cancer.

We love you guys! Go out and be your best self today! And as always, Happy Nursing!

 

 

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