Radioactivity and Radioisotopes

  • Rajesh Duggirala
  • Amit Lal
  • Shankar Radhakrishnan
Part of the MEMS Reference Shelf book series (MEMSRS, volume 6)


Radioactivity was discovered in 1896 by Henri Becquerel, when he found that a mixture of uranium salts emitted a mysterious penetrating radiation that passed through thin sheets of metal. Since then, radioactivity has been applied in many diverse areas within the fields of industry, agriculture, medicine, and the military. In industry, sealed radioactive sources are used in industrial radiography, gauging applications, and mineral analysis. Short-lived radioactive material is used in flow tracing and mixing measurements. In agriculture, gamma sterilization is used for food preservation and sterilization of bulk commodities. In medicine, gamma sterilization is also used for sterilizing medical supplies, but more importantly, radioisotopes are indispensable in both diagnosing and treating some diseases including cancer. However, the most prevalent use of radioactivity is in the generation of electrical power. Applications benefiting from nuclear power generation range from industries and residences to submarines and deep space probes.


Alpha Particle Radioactive Decay Daughter Nucleus Absorb Dose Rate Beta Particle 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC  2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajesh Duggirala
    • 1
  • Amit Lal
    • 2
  • Shankar Radhakrishnan
    • 3
  1. 1.Intel CorporationHillsboroUSA
  2. 2.School of Electrical and Computer EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Cornell UniversityNew YorkUSA

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