When we talk about nuclear chemistry we are referring to a specific phenomenon: radioactivity. It should be noted that radioactivity is a natural phenomenon discovered casually by the French physicist Henri Becquerel, who when researching uranium salts , unexpectedly, proved that when placing them on a dark plate, it also darkened. This is because uranium salts generated radiation that passed through certain materials.
This discovery led another researcher, Marie Curie, to deepen Becquerel’s work, more specifically with the discovery of radiation. Curie’s research was based on a principle: radiation depends on the properties of the atoms that form chemical elements .
Types of nuclear radiation
Nuclear chemistry studies the reactions that take place in the nuclei of atoms. During these reactions, atoms release large amounts of energy , more specifically atomic energy. This means that radioactivity is a process of natural or artificial change that takes place in the composition of an atom’s nucleus. Nuclear Chemistry
Natural radioactivity is the spontaneous decomposition of unstable atomic nuclei and the shedding of high-energy radiation. The radiations emitted are of three types: alpha, beta and gamma.
In the alpha type the radiation is positive, in the beta type the radiation is negative and in the gamma type there is no electric charge. These changes happen due to the penetration power of each type of radiation. The emission of the sun’s rays is a clear example of natural radioactivity.
Artificial radioactivity in the field of medicine
Artificial radiations are those created by humans for some purpose, especially in the medical or industrial sector. In medicine there is talk of nuclear medicine, a discipline that performs diagnoses and treatments through images called gammagraphies. These images are based on the detection of radioactive substances that detect gamma radiation. Nuclear Chemistry
The information obtained from nuclear medicine studies represents the physiology of an organ, which is much more accurate than the information provided by conventional radiology.
Nuclear reactors and the atomic bomb are based on the principles of nuclear chemistry
Nuclear reactors produce electrical energy thanks to the energy obtained from uranium. In a nuclear reactor, the useful energy of one gram of uranium is equivalent to the energy extracted from 2500 kilograms of burned coal.
The atomic bomb has immense destructive power to the point that bombs dropped on Japan during World War II had a destructive capacity equivalent to 10,000 tons of TNT. Nuclear Chemistry