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Uses of Radiation

Uses of Radiation

Ionisation

  • Nuclear radiation ionises materials. This changes atoms or molecules into charged particles.

Uses of alpha radiation

  • Ionisation is useful for smoke detectors. Radioactive americium releases alpha radiation, which ionises the air inside the detector. Smoke from a fire absorbs alpha radiation, altering the ionisation and triggering the alarm.

Uses of beta radiation

  • Beta radiation is used for tracers and monitoring the thickness of materials.
  • Doctors may use radioactive chemicals called tracers for medical imaging. Certain chemicals concentrate in different damaged or diseased parts of the body, and the radiation concentrates with it. Radiation detectors placed outside the body detect the radiation emitted and, with the aid of computers, build up an image of the inside of the body.
  • Radiation is used in industry in detectors that monitor and control the thickness of materials such as paper, plastic and aluminium. The thicker the material, the more radiation is absorbed and the less radiation reaches the detector. It then sends signals to the equipment that adjusts the thickness of the material.

Uses of gamma radiation

  • Gamma radiation is used in the treatment of cancer, testing equipment and sterilising medical instruments.

This video shows the uses of radiation in Medicine and Health