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# Radioactivity & Nuclear Physics Learning Objectives Content

• Qualitative study of Rutherford scattering.
• Appreciation of how knowledge and understanding of the structure of the nucleus has changed over time.
• Graph of N against Z for stable nuclei.
• Possible decay modes of unstable nuclei including α, β+, β− and electron capture.
• Changes in N and Z caused by radioactive decay and representation in simple decay equations.
• Questions may use nuclear energy level diagrams.
• Existence of nuclear excited states; γ ray emission; application e.g. use of technetium-99m as a γ source in medical diagnosis.
• Estimate of radius from closest approach of alpha particles and determination of radius from electron diffraction.
• Knowledge of typical values for nuclear radius.
• Students will need to be familiar with the Coulomb equation for the closest approach estimate.
• Dependence of radius on nucleon number: R = R0A 1/3 derived from experimental data.
• Interpretation of equation as evidence for constant density of nuclear material.
• Calculation of nuclear density.
• Students should be familiar with the graph of intensity against angle for electron diffraction by a nucleus.
• Appreciation that E = mc2 applies to all energy changes
• Simple calculations involving mass difference and binding energy.
• Atomic mass unit, u.
• Conversion of units; 1 u = 931.5 MeV.
• Fission and fusion processes.
• Simple calculations from nuclear masses of energy released in fission and fusion reactions.
• Graph of average binding energy per nucleon against nucleon number.
• Students may be expected to identify, on the plot, the regions where nuclei will release energy when undergoing fission/fusion.
• Appreciation that knowledge of the physics of nuclear energy allows society to use science to inform decision making.
• Fission induced by thermal neutrons; possibility of a chain reaction; critical mass.
• The functions of the moderator, control rods, and coolant in a thermal nuclear reactor.
• Details of particular reactors are not required.
• Students should have studied a simple mechanical model of moderation by elastic collisions.
• Factors affecting the choice of materials for the moderator, control rods and coolant. Examples of materials used for these functions.
• Fuel used, remote handling of fuel, shielding, emergency shut-down.
• Production, remote handling, and storage of radioactive waste materials.
• Appreciation of balance between risk and benefits in the development of nuclear power.
• Their properties and experimental identification using simple absorption experiments; applications e.g. to relative hazards of exposure to humans.
• Applications also include thickness measurements of aluminium foil paper and steel.
• Inverse-square law for γ radiation: I = k/x2
• Experimental verification of inverse-square law.
• Applications e.g. to safe handling of radioactive sources.
• Background radiation; examples of its origins and experimental elimination from calculations.
• Appreciation of balance between risk and benefits in the uses of radiation in medicine.
• Random nature of radioactive decay; constant decay probability of a given nucleus;
• ∆ N/∆ t = − λN
• N = N0e−λt
• Use of activity, A = λN
• Modelling with constant decay probability.
• Questions may be set which require students to use A = A0eλt
• Questions may also involve use of molar mass or the Avogadro constant.
• Half-life equation: T ½ = ln2/λ
• Determination of half-life from graphical decay data including decay curves and log graphs.
• Applications e.g. relevance to storage of radioactive waste, radioactive dating etc.

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