Basics of nuclear chemistry
Nuclear chemistry is the branch of chemistry dealing with the changes in the nucleus of elements due to radioactivity and nuclear power. It is the branch of chemistry which combines the knowledge of organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry with few basic concepts of physics. The discovery of Uranium emits radiations was done by Henri Becquerel in 1896, which gave another branch to chemistry. The course requires lot of patience and detailed attention. The study course gets collaborated with the concepts of various other fields like material science, pharmaceutical research, nuclear medicinal physics, theoretical chemistry, environmental science, weapons stockpile stewardship and nuclear non- proliferation compliance monitoring. There are seven basic units which are to be studied by the students to acquire the knowledge on the subject- Nuclear Chemistry.
a) Introduction of isotope and nuclear chemistry: This topic will be dealing with the historical review, types of radioactive decays, nuclear stability, radioactivity, binding energy and decay schemes.
b) Kinetics of Radioactive decay: This topic will be dealing with the concepts of first order decay expressions, branching ratios, mixture activities, secular equilibrium and transient and consecutive decays.
c) Applications of nuclear transformations: The study of nuclear reactors and particle beam transmutation of facilities will be covered in this topic.
d) Concepts of radiation chemistry: This topic will deal with the detection, measurement and interactions of radiations with matter.
e) Applications of Nuclear and radiochemistry: This topic is elaborate covering medical isotopes and treatment, tracers, isotope separation, dating techniques, isotope effects, NMR imaging, PET, positron annihilation and Muonium spin rotation.
f) Models of nuclear structure: Elementary particles and quantum chromo dynamics, Fermi gas, shell and collective models are all the sub topics of this unit.
g) Nuclear chemical physics: this topic will deal with the study of astro- physics, geo and cosmo- chronology.
Apart from theoretical knowledge, a student gets the hands on experience of various methods so that he gets the practise to perform various research experimentations and know how to analyse or evaluate the same. During the course, student picks up a small training project also where he understands the utility and applicative modes of the knowledge he has acquired during the course of time.
Importance of nuclear chemistry
The compositions of the atom's nucleus can be changed by nuclear reactions. This kind of process is very useful and has many applications in today's world. The two uses of this field which are very high in its application are determination of the age of various artifacts using the radioactive decay of carbon- 14 and other isotopes and using NMR to identify various chemical compounds to look inside your innards. During the course, a student's skills are enhanced which he uses it in career and day to day responsibilities to excel. Few of them to name are problem solving, critical thinking and analytical skills. The mathematical ability, computer skills, oral and written skills makes the person holistic in approach. Hence, the subject makes you develop an approach towards your personal life also. The major work is to study the fission and fusion processes in various isotopic forms and effects of ionizing radiations on living organisms, environment and other materials. As a nuclear chemist one gets the job in to academic and government laboratories to do theoretical or allied research. They also can work in private firms, nuclear power plants or the medical facilities where the medical imaging or radioactivity is used. The technicians of this field collect the samples for environmental testing, monitor's equipment and measures the level of radiations. They are also required for the maintenance and distribution of personal dosimetry devices in the laboratories. There is immense scope in nuclear chemistry as it comes with variety of works. The development of mathematical models, computer simulations, monitoring and dismantling the nuclear weapons and development of nuclear power sources like public utilities, submarines, satellites etc. are few of the duties of the course. In medicinal field the course is important in developing the therapeutic treatments and medical imaging using radioactive materials and develops the treatments of illness or injuries living beings gets due to the exposure of radiation. For making sure that the environment is safe, the course gives the chance to develop and deploy various methodologies for monitoring the radioactivity. In the academic sector also, one can get opportunity to train and teach other students on various aspects of nuclear chemistry at college level via various institutions who offer this course. Apart from all this, the additional career requirement is to work for the improvement, efficiency and safety of nuclear power sources and also develop and perform the methodologies of storage and disposal of radioactive materials. People who make their background of the subject very strong, gets the titles like material engineer or medical researcher in accordance to their research filed.
Tips to solve problems/ questions on nuclear chemistry
A student looses interest due to the long procedures of various processes which are collaborated with each other. To avoid this every student after studying a particular unit should create a mind map which will give the brief of the unit and should go through it every week. Keep taking small projects to understand the applicability of the subject; this will help you in getting placed in a good institution or job. The answers should be written in the bullet points, so that it is easy to refer and check if any point is missing or not. Try answering in the form of flow charts, it enhances the delivery of the answer and also enhances the conceptual knowledge. Always go after reading the theoretical aspects of any topic which is getting performed in the laboratory classes. It will give you an extra edge against other students to understand the basics and concepts of the unit and will help you in answering the application or higher order questions by applying the problem solving and analytical approach. All these tips will make you ease down the pressure of the subject and excel in the field of Nuclear Chemistry.
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