Sonoma State University
Fall 2002

Physics 481
John Dunning, Jr.

Course Outline

  1. Introduction: Decay processes, Stable nuclei, beta decay of 32P, gamma decay of 60Co, 238U alpha-decay and the uranium decay series. A DNA sequencing gel will be shown. Chapter 2.1, 2,2, 2.7,2.8.
  2. Radioactive decay. Single component, activity and the choice of isotopes. Saturation activity (equation 2.30). Two component parent-daughter equilibrium equations. I recently had a 99Tc-m heart scan. This will be compared to an ultrasound study. Biological half life. Natural Radioactivity: The uranium and thorium decay series. Chapter 2 .9 + handout on 99Tc-m. The biological half life is discussed starting with equation 9.37 on p.523.
  3. Production of radioisotopes using neutrons: Interaction of neutrons in matter: thermal neutrons, energy spectrum, fast neutrons, neutron activation. Polyenergetic neutrons. Solution of the production decay equation. Rate = sigma x flux x Number of targets. Gamma de-excitation, dependencies, exposure, handling, counting. Short time approximation, sensitivity.Target conversion rates at higher flux. Chapter 3.1-3.6 + handout on neutron activation.
  4. Dating of geologic materials: Argon-argon dating and the Cretaceous Tertiary period time boundary. Meteor crater in Yucatan. See for example: Look under geochronology. Handouts.
  5. Attenuation of gamma rays in matter: Detection of gamma rays, photoelectric effect, Compton scattering, pair production. X-ray fluorescence, uses. Detection and shielding. Medical X-ray production, attenuation and detection will be discussed. I have X-rays of my knee which will be compared with MRI studies of the knee. I also have X-rays of my lungs which show my pacemaker placement. Chapter 3.8. Handout on medical X-rays. External gamma ray shielding calculations using Buildup factors . Chapter 10.1.
  6. Interaction of heavy charged particles with matter: Charged particles. dE/dx, range, energy deposited. The emphasis will be on energy deposited, detection and shielding. Chapter 3.9 + handout. Cosmic rays are primarily high energy protons. Their absorption by the atmosphere will be discussed. Handout on ionization energy loss and on cosmic rays.
  7. Interaction of electrons with matter.The scintillation proximity assay (SPA). Handout on SPA. Prevention of cornary in-stent restenosis (the arteries are enlarged with angioplasty and a stent is inserted to keep the artery open) with radiation therapy, a current medical research topic. (for example see Clinical Cardiology 2002 Jul:25 (7):312-22). Ch. 3.9 has some material on beta particle range. Handout.

    Either a Dr. Lynn Cominisky lecture on gamma ray astronomy and detecting cosmic gamma rays using satellites or

    Evolution of the elements in the universe: rapid and slow neutron capture in supernovas and stars. Handout. See for example:

  8. Critical size calculations:

    The source term for fission neutrons: The infinite multiplication factor. Leakage. Ch. 4.1, Ch. 3.7.

    Absorption and scattering of neutrons in matter. The Equation of Continuity, diffusion approximation. Fick's law. Diffusion length and boundary conditions. One group solution for the flux and current of neutrons for an Infinite planar source. Comparison with a research reactor thermal column. Chapter 5.1-5.6.

    The one group diffusion equation slab reactor and a bare spherical fast reactor. Chapter 6.1 6.4.

  9. Time Dependent Reactor: (time permitting) Chapter 7.1 7.2, Fission Product decay heating p. 414 - 417.
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