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⌧= ln = t

Radiation Physics, Lecture 2 N0

✓ ◆
1 t1/2
ZX ! A 4
+ ↵ + energy ln
=for halfln(2)
equation life =

ZX ! A 4
Z 2Y + ↵ + energy N = N0 e
A A 1
ZX ! Z+1 Y + + ⌫¯ ln(2)
t1/2 =

A A +1
ZX ! Z 1Y + +⌫ lamda is the decay constant
A A 4
ZX ! Z 2Y + ↵ + energy

p+ ! n + +1
A A 1
ZX ! Z+1 Y + + ⌫¯

n ! p+ + 1
+ ⌫¯
A A +1
ZX ! Z 1Y + +⌫
A ⇤ A
ZX ! ZX +
p+ ! n + +1
Radiation Physics, Lecture 2
Radio-isotopes Strontium-90 (T½ = 28 years) and Iodine-131 (T½ = 8
days) are both dangerous nuclear fission products, being bone and
thyroid seeking respectively.
(a) How long after a nuclear explosion will it take for the 131I activity to
fall by a factor of 1024?

(b) By what fraction will Sr-90 activity be reduced over 64 years?

Radiation Physics, Lecture 2
Radio-isotopes Strontium-90 (T½ = 28 years) and Iodine-131 (T½ = 8
days) are both dangerous nuclear fission products, being bone and
thyroid seeking respectively.
(a) How long after a nuclear explosion will it take for the 131I activity to
fall by a factor of 1024?
1024 = 210 so 10 half-lives = 10 x 8 days = 80 days

(b) By what fraction will Sr-90 activity be reduced over 64 years?

λ = ln2 / T1/2 = 0.025 Yr-1
N = N0exp(-λT) = N0 exp(-0.025*64) = 0.205 N0
So the activity will be 20% or 1/5

Radiation Physics, Lecture 2
235 U decays to 20782Pb. Enter the correct isotope symbol in
each square in the diagram below.

90 T h Fill rest of the chart
with periodic table.
91 P a

Radiation Physics, Lecture 2
In the diagram below, a radioactive source in place in a field
(directed into the page). Alpha, beta and gamma radiation are
emitted from the source. Label the three trajectories. L force tells you how particles interact
with the magnetic field
You have a radioactive source in the lead container
Lorentz force:
F=qv x B
alpha- q>0

- no charge

beta-, q<0
alpha will go up
5 more
beta will go down and much
because it travels much further
Radiation Physics, Lecture 3
Interaction of Radiation with Matter
After studying this topic you should be able to…
•  Outline the mechanisms of absorption of , and
gamma particles.
•  Recognise the extent to which X-rays penetrate
tissue, bone, heavy metals.
•  Describe how photons (visible, UV, X-ray, ) interact
with atomic electrons.
•  Sketch the exponential decrease of intensity with
distance, calculate the fraction transmitted.
•  State how radiation is detected e.g. using a
scintillation counter. 6
Note: any slide with a blue background
or border is non-examinable.

Revision from Summary of α, β and γ properties
Lecture 2
Type Nature of Radiation Penetrating power Ionizing power –
ability to remove
electrons from atoms

Alpha 2 neutrons & 2 Low Very high

protons however you can protect it with a
thin shield
alpha and beta particles are charged Stopped by a few cm
so they will interact differently
Charge = +2 of air, or a sheet of
Beta Electron / positron Moderate Moderate requires a thick

Charge = +/-1 Stopped by a few mm

radiations from living organisms can
produce free radicals which can
of metal. Eg.
cause many harmful results Aluminum
Eg death of cells and cancer

Gamma Photons Very High Low

Charge = 0 Stopped by a thick (no charge and

layer of concrete or no energy)
lead. 8
Revision from Electromagnetic Spectrum
Lecture 1
radio frequencies are not absorbed by the body. Hence they
are not harmful. Microwave can be harmful if the microwave frequency
matches the frequency of the cells

infrared is hamful at large dosage

UV absorbed by skin

Interactions of Heavy Charged Particles
Energy-Loss Mechanisms
• The basic mechanism for the slowing down of a moving
charged particle is Coulombic interactions between the
charged particle and electrons in the medium.
• A heavy charged particle traversing matter loses energy
primarily through the ionization and excitation of atoms.
• The moving charged particle exerts electromagnetic forces
on atomic electrons and imparts energy to them. The
energy transferred may be sufficient to knock an electron
out of an atom and thus ionize it, or it may leave the atom in
an excited, non-ionized state.
• A heavy charged particle can transfer only a small fraction
of its energy in a single electronic collision. Its deflection in
the collision is negligible.
• All heavy charged particles travel essentially straight paths
in matter. 10
Interaction of Radiation with Matter
very energetic hence one particle can knock off many material
if the damage is too large within a short period of time over a very small area, it may not be possible to recover from the damage

Ionizing radiation causes the ejection of electrons from

their binding to an atom.

This ionization is the

origin of damage to
materials (some of the
particle’s energy is
deposited in the

Since a single α or β can

cause thousands of
ionizations, the damage
can be considerable. 11
photon gets absorbed and will eject an electron
During each interaction, the particle will lose energy and in the
end it will run out of energy

nuetron can interact with hydrogen and cause damage


is the particle itself causing the damage or do they cause some other particle to cause damage on behalf of them ?

α radiation

Interaction occurs via mechanical collisions with atoms and

via coulomb force between α and electrons in orbits of

α particles typically has an energy of ~MeV and loses ~100

eV per ionization in matter, ~35 eV in air (low density).

Result – a large number of ionized atoms in a short distance

(small volume).

energy of the photon is very small. however alpha particle is very energetic hence every interaction will only lose a very small bit of its energy
capacity. therefore it has the capacity to ionise many particles along its way through the material
since it interacts very frequently it looses its energy very fast. hence they cant penetrate very far. few layers of layer or air can prevent alpha
penetration and the damage caused by it
β radiation

Interaction occurs primarily via coulomb force with orbital

and bond electrons in atoms. The force is weaker than for
α radiation since the charge is only half of α particles and
the speed is faster (low mass).

Fewer collisions in a unit volume result in a larger range

(penetration depth).

Result – much less damage to matter than in case of a

radiation. Mid range penetration depth, heat (burn) of

since the amoutn of interactions are less probable the area of damage will be more than alpha
if they interacts with the hydrogen atom, it can ionise the proton. Nuetron can be absorbed in the nucleus and can produce daughter nuclei and show

radioactive materials in the tissue

•  Interact only with atomic nuclei

this is how a nuclear reactor works under a controlled environment . If you don't control it, will result in an atomic bomb

•  Can eject light nuclei from atoms

creating ions & electrons (β)
•  Slow neutrons (cold) can be absorbed
by nuclei leaving a radioactive nucleus.
This then decays producing ionising
•  Interactions have low probability of
interactions so usually long range
(relatively short range in hydrogen. E.g
An extreme but interesting case
of interaction of neutrons with
matter is fission … 15
γ radiation and x-rays
they travel at speed of light due to the lack of mass. hence they can penetrate alot more

No electric charge and travel at the speed of light (no mass) result in a very
long penetration depth.

Which atoms are ionized is strongly dependent on the energy of the γ

vibrations have a known resonance and cause the other atoms to vibrate

γ radiation and x-rays
there are three possible ways in which these particles can cause damage:
Mechanism for interaction:

γ N M
Photoelectric effect
L (inner shell electrons)
e - < 30 keV
γ photon has enough energy to even leave the energy

Compton scattering
(outer shell electrons)
> 30 keV

+ Pair production (>1.02

e MeV)
γ1 γ2
photon will scatter at the surface via an effect called compton effect 17
Week 12 Monday 3pm

X-ray attenuation
A= = N

Z N Z t
t t dN t
= N dt
•  The fraction of photons removed from an N incident
0 monoenergetic 0
X-ray beam per unit thickness of material depends on the linear
attenuation coefficient, μ. tells you how many photos that will be removed from the incident. It will be proportional to
thickness of the materials t- thickness
The number of photons removed is: ΔN = - μ N0 Δt
✓ ◆
N (t is thickness)
Conventionally we measure intensity or fluxln
(photons per = t
unit area
per unit time) ΔI = - μ I0 Δt N0
•  Rearranging this and integrating both sides gives: I(t) = I0exp(-μt)
here the t is time
t 18
Remember exponential decay for radioactive substances: N = N0 e
X-ray attenuation

I = I0 exp( -µ t )
Linear attenuation coefficient

(µ depends on both x-ray
energy and material

here you observe exponential decay. In some radiation photons are more likely to be absorbed due to the difference the material carries

What happens if you put your head
inside a particle accelerator….

Anatoli Bugorski
was subjected to a
76 GeV proton beam
by accident.


Gamma Detection and Shielding
Catalyst episode – “Radiation 101”, aired Thursday, 1 September 2011
Alpha Detection and Shielding
Catalyst episode – “Radiation 101”, aired Thursday, 1 September 2011
Detection of radiation

Some radiation (e.g. gamma) is very difficult

to stop. So how can we measure it?

•  We cannot directly detect α, β (e-, e+) γ, p, n

•  Instead, some or all of the particle’s energy is used to

cause a measurable change in a detector material

Radiation Physics, Lecture 3
measures the cumulative radiation dose. the film emulsion is a B&W photographic film. you can have different types of films based on the sensitivity of radiation
that is needed to be detected.

• We cannot directly detect α, β (e-, e+), γ, p, n

• Instead, some or all of the particle’s energy is used to
cause a measurable change in a detector material
• Simplest example: Chemical change in film
α, β, γ (Vis and X) + Ag+ = Ag (in “developable” form)

tells you the type of radiation and the dosage
Detection of radiation –
Geiger Counter

very common however there are limitations in measuring high levels of

cant measure the dose of the incident event
its filled with he or Ar at low pressure and then a voltage is applied causing
the gas to ionise. Then there will be a current being conducted inside the
ionization will cause the electrons to accelerate and hit other particles and
knock off other electrons. then they will hit another and will lead to an
avalanche effect

geiger counter only measures the number of counts. more sophisticated

equipment can measure and different types of energy.

Detection of radiation –
Scintillators and Photomultiplier Tubes
easily excited by incoming particle. This will result in photons to be released. Photomultiplier tube will hit the photo cathode and will
release an electrons. Electrons will be accelerated until you have enough electrons until a current can be measured
at the outlet

Scintillator screens

Film Emulsion
Detection of radiation –
Semiconductor detectors

can easily turn free electrons to conductive electrons

number of electron hole passes is proportionals to the
amount of radiation the semiconductor is experiencing

amount of energy req to produce this electron hole pass

is relatively small. allows you to determine the intensity
Semiconductors materials (Si, Ge, etc) have
conduction properties between those of
insulators and conductors

Photons induce electron hole pairs, which are

measured as current since you only need very small portion of the energy to detect it the energy resolution is
very high
Detection of radiation –
Personal radiation monitoring

Worn by people who work with: Medical imagining (inc.

veterinary), Diagnostic and therapeutic radioactive substances,
Mining and Milling, anyone who works at a research facility that
uses radiation (e.g. Australian Synchrotron or ANSTO) 28
Detection of radiation –
Personal radiation monitoring
Thermoluminescent dosimetry (TLD)
uses solid state detectors, which
when subjected ionizing radiation,
free electrons in the TLD crystals
become trapped in lattice

To measure the dose received, the

TLD is heated (typically to 300 °C)
which allows the electrons to
escape the traps and release light
which can then be measured using
a photomultiplier. 29
CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) at the LHC

CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) at the LHC

Radiation Physics, Lecture 3
I = I0 exp ( -µ t )

Radiation Physics, Lecture 3
3.  Giancoli Ch. 31 – Questions 18, 23