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Chemistry160-page3 - Chemistry Concepts 3 Isotopes While a...

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Chemistry Concepts - 3 Isotopes While a typical element has a fixed number of protons and neutrons; many elements have forms with a number of neutrons, which differs from the typical number. These are called isotopes e.g. Carbon (6p, 6n) Carbon (6p, 7n) Carbon (6p, 8n) Isotopes will have the same chemical properties. Since mass varies, some slight physical property differences occur. Unstable Isotopes Some isotopes have unstable nuclei, where one or more of the neutrons slowly decay, releasing energy in the form of beta particles. Eventually these neutrons decay into a proton (and electron, released as the beta particle). Such isotopes are called radioactive isotopes and the energy released is radiation. The rate of decay varies for different isotopes. Radioactive isotopes are important in biological research. The rate of decay is measured by the half-life, the amount of time needed for 1/2 of the radioactive isotope to decay. Electron
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