gamma_spectrum - Introductory Lab-ray Spectra of...

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Introductory Lab: γ -ray Spectra of Radioactive Isotopes Experiments in Modern Physics (P451) Spectroscopy is a technique that has long provided insight into atomic, nuclear, and hadron structure. In this lab you will learn techniques for measuring the spectrum of γ -rays emitted from various radioactive isotopes. Introduction In elementary modern physics, you learned of several different ways in which quanta of electromagnetic energy, or photons, can interact with matter. The three dominant processes include: the photoelectric effect, in which all of the photon’s energy is transferred to a single electron; Compton scattering, in which the photon scatters from an electron, transferring some of its energy, but re-emerging as a lower-energy photon; and pair production, whereby the photon converts to a positron-electron ( e + e - ) pair. In this lab, you will investigate processes involving high-energy photons, or γ -rays, where in this context “high energy” means on the scale of nuclear energy level spacings, i.e. , several MeV or so. Note that an MeV is many thousands of times larger than typical atomic energies, so the fact that the struck electrons are bound in matter is usually not important. These processes are described in more detail in Refs. [1, 2]. The key tools in this experiment will be a Thallium-doped Sodium Iodide crystal, which is a scintillating
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gamma_spectrum - Introductory Lab-ray Spectra of...

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