Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Nuclear Radiation

Figure from experiment 25 from Investigating Chemistry through Inquiry


Nuclear radiation can be broadly classified into three categories. These three categories are labeled with the first three letters of the Greek alphabet: α (alpha), β (beta) and γ (gamma). Alpha radiation consists of a stream of fast-moving helium nuclei (two protons and two neutrons). As such, an alpha particle is relatively heavy and carries two positive electrical charges. Beta radiation consists of fast-moving electrons or positrons (an antimatter electron). A beta particle is much lighter than an alpha particle, and carries one unit of charge. Gamma radiation consists of photons, which are massless and carry no charge. X-rays are also photons, but carry less energy than gammas.

After being emitted from a decaying nucleus, the alpha, beta or gamma radiation may pass through matter, or it may be absorbed by the matter.


In this Preliminary Activity, you will use a radiation monitor to determine the absorption of beta radiation by paper and by aluminum.

After completing the Preliminary Activity, you will first use reference sources to find out more about nuclear radiation before you choose and investigate a researchable question.

Sensors and Equipment

This investigation features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Investigating Chemistry through Inquiry »

Investigating Chemistry through Inquiry

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Physical Properties of Water
2Baking Soda and Vinegar Investigations
3An Investigation of Urea-Containing Cold Packs
4Conductivity of Aqueous Solutions
5Identifying a Pure Substance
6Investigating the Energy Content of Foods
7Investigating the Energy Content of Fuels
8Evaporation and Intermolecular Attractions
9Enthalpy Changes
10Reaction Stoichiometry
11Beer's Law Investigations
12Colligative Properties of Solutions
13Long Term Water Monitoring
14Vapor Pressure and Heat of Vaporization Investigations
15Acid-Base Properties of Household Products
16The Effect of Acid Deposition on Aqueous Systems
17Acid-Base Titrations
18Conductimetric Titrations
19Oxidation-Reduction Titrations
20Investigating Voltaic Cells
21Baking Soda and Vinegar Investigations Revisited
22Reaction Rates
23Enzyme Activity
24Sugar Fermentation by Yeast
25Nuclear Radiation

Investigation 25 from Investigating Chemistry through Inquiry Lab Book

<i>Investigating Chemistry through Inquiry</i> book cover

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