Mandatory Topic 1 (for MSc degree)

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Radioactivity, radionuclides and radiation

– principles of nuclear physics to radiochemists

Return to: Overview of Minimum Requirments


To teach NRC students the basic knowledge in nuclear physics in order to understand the nature
of radioactivity, reasons for stability/instability of nuclides, modes of radioactive decay
processes, types of radiation emitted in radioactive decay processes and the rate of radioactive


  • structure of atom and nucleus, nucleons
  • nuclides, radionuclides, isotopes, isobars, nuclide charts
  • types and origin of radionuclides (natural decay series, primary primordial radionuclides,
    secondary natural radionuclides, cosmogenic radionuclides, artificial radionuclides,
    formation and occurrence)
  • stability of nuclei (stable nuclides vs. radionuclides, masses on nucleons, mass deficiency,
    binding energy, binding energy per nucleon, proton to neutron ratio, energy valley –
    semiempirical equation of mass – beta parabola, fission, fusion)
  • modes of radioactive decay
    • fission (process, spontaneous vs. induced, energetics, formation of fission products, fission yields, fissionable/fissile, nature of fission products)
    • alpha decay (process, energetics, alpha recoil, decay to daughter’s ground state, decay to daughter’s exited state, formation of alpha spectrum)
    • beta decay (processes in beta minus decay, positron decay and electron capture, energetics, beta recoil, neutrino/antineutrino, distribution of decay energy, formation of beta spectrum, beta parabola for odd/even nuclides, secondary processes (gamma decay, formation of Auger electrons and X-rays, annihilation of positrons)
    • internal transition (gamma decay, internal conversion, energetics, gamma recoil,
      metastable isomeric states, formation of gamma spectrum) - rate of radioactive decay, half-life, activity units, activity concentrations vs. specific activity, activity vs. count rate, determination of half-lives, equilibria in successive decay processes - isotopic exchange - isotope effects - principles and uses of nuclear power reactors

Teaching Material from NukWik