Unit 5: Nuclear Chemistry

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Nuclear Radiation
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Particles or electromagnetic radiation emitted from the nucleus during radioactive decay
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Half-life
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The time required for half of a sample of a radioactive isotope to decay.
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Alpha Particle
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A particle made up of two protons and two neutrons, identical to a helium atom, ejected from a nucleus during a nuclear reaction
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Alpha Decay
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A nuclear reaction in which an atom emits an alpha particle consisting of two protons and two neutrons. This increases the atomic number by 2 and the mass number by 4.
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Beta Particle
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A high-speed electron (or positron) emitted in the decay of a radioactive isotope
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Beta Decay
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A nuclear reaction in which a neutron changes into a proton and an electron, and the atoms emits a beta particle, which is the electron. It increases the atomic number of the atom by 1, but the mass remains constant.
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Gamma Radiation
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Atomic emission of high energy photons, aka gamma particles (γ-particles) that does not alter the atom otherwise.
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Fission
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A nuclear reaction in which a massive nucleus splits into smaller nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy.
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Fusion
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A process in which the nuclei of two atoms combine to form a larger nucleus
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Nuclear Power Plant
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A facility that uses heat from nuclear reactors to produce electrical energy. Pros: carbon neutral, highly efficient. Cons: radioactive waste, can have catastrophic meltdowns.

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