What is being taught week by week:
- The structure of atoms.
- Mass number, atomic number and isotopes (chemistry crossover).
- The development of the model of the atom (chemistry crossover).
- Radioactive decay and nuclear radiation.
- Understanding nuclear decay through equations.
- Radioactive contamination and irradiation.
- Nuclear fission and fusion.
Key Terms for this topic (Tier 3 vocabulary)
Plum pudding model – scattering experiment – protons – neutrons – electrons – nucleus – isotope – radioactivity – alpha decay – beta decay – gamma decay – half life – activity level – tangent.
Atomic Structure & Radiation
Are you ready for your assessment in this topic? Try out this simple quiz.
What everyone needs to know:
The structure of atoms is split between the positive nucleus (positive protons and neutral neutrons) and the negative electrons orbiting in shells. Chemists focus more on the electrons whereas physicists focus more on the nucleus. Atoms have a radius of about 1 x 10-10m.
Link to chemistry’s structure of the atom and how it links to the numbers on the periodic table. The other common part from chemistry is the development of the theory of the model of the atom. Ensure that you can describe the scattering experiment.
Understand the different types of nuclear radiation, α, β and γ radiation. You need to know how they are produced, how far they travel in air, what materials can stop them, how dangerous they are and what we use them for.
Describe how activity is measured and the unit becquerel (Bq).
Use nuclear equations that will balance to show original isotope, the particle that has been emitted and the new isotope (daughter).
Describe nuclear half life.
Understand and describe both radioactive contamination and irradiation. They can both be created in a similar situation, however, they are different and you need to distinguish clearly. List hazards associated with both, suitable precautions and how they affect people, animals and plant life.
Extra topics needed for the Higher papers:
As well as describing half life, you need to be able to do this graphically as well as sing a data table. You may be asked to calculate the activity after 3 half lives have passed or find out the half life from data showing a decay in activity.