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Introduction

Gamma-ray (γ-ray) spectroscopy is a quick and nondestructive analytical technique that can be used to identify various radioactive isotopes in a sample. In gamma-ray spectroscopy, the energy of incident gamma-rays is measured by a detector. By comparing the measured energy to the known energy of gamma-rays produced by radioisotopes, the identity of the emitter can be determined. This technique has many applications, particularly in situations where rapid nondestructive analysis is required.

Background principles

Radioactive decay

The field of chemistry typically concerns itself with the behavior and interactions of stable isotopes of the elements. However, elements can exist in numerous states which are not stable. For example, a nucleus can have too many neutrons for the number of protons it has or contrarily, it can have too few neutrons for the number of protons it has. Alternatively, the nuclei can exist in an excited state, wherein a nucleon is present in an energy state that is higher than the ground state. In all of these cases, the unstable state is at a higher energy state and the nucleus must undergo some kind of decay process to reduce that energy.

There are many types of radioactive decay, but type most relevant to gamma-ray spectroscopy is gamma decay. When a nucleus undergoes radioactive decay by α or β decay, the resultant nucleus produced by this process, often called the daughter nucleus, is frequently in an excited state. Similar to how electrons are found in discrete energy levels around a nucleus, nucleons are found in discrete energy levels within the nucleus. In γ decay, the excited nucleon decays to a lower energy state and the energy difference is emitted as a quantized photon. Because nuclear energy levels are discrete, the transitions between energy levels are fixed for a given transition. The photon emitted from a nuclear transition is known as a γ-ray.

Radioactive decay kinetics and equilibria

Radioactive decay, with few exceptions, is independent of the physical conditions surrounding the radioisotope. As a result, the probability of decay at any given instant is constant for any given nucleus of that particular radioisotope. We can use calculus to see how the number of parent nuclei present varies with time. The time constant, λ, is a representation of the rate of decay for a given nuclei, [link] .

If the symbol N 0 is used to represent the number of radioactive nuclei present at t = 0, then the following equation describes the number of nuclei present at some given time.

The same equation can be applied to the measurement of radiation with some sort of detector. The count rate will decrease from some initial count rate in the same manner that the number of nuclei will decrease from some initial number of nuclei.

The decay rate can also be represented in a way that is more easily understood. The equation describing half-life (t 1/2 ) is shown in [link] .

The half-life has units of time and is a measure of how long it takes for the number of radioactive nuclei in a given sample to decrease to half of the initial quantity. It provides a conceptually easy way to compare the decay rates of two radioisotopes. If one has a the same number of starting nuclei for two radioisotopes, one with a short half-life and one with a long half-life, then the count rate will be higher for the radioisotope with the short half-life, as many more decay events must happen per unit time in order for the half-life to be shorter.

Questions & Answers

what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
how to synthesize TiO2 nanoparticles by chemical methods
Zubear
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Mueller Reply
advantages of NAA
Sai Reply
how I can reaction of mercury?
Sham Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Physical methods in chemistry and nano science. OpenStax CNX. May 05, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col10699/1.21
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