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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