CHE 521



CHE 521, Radiochemistry Laboratory

Course Description: Introductory radiochemistry laboratory. Emphasis is on nuclear radiation detection and radiochemical techniques including activation analysis, isotope dilution, liquid scintillation counting, hot-atom chemistry, X-ray fluorescence, nuclear spectroscopy, and radiochemical separations. Three or six (laboratory and discussion) hours per week. Prereq: CHE 520.

Course Information


The basic text for this course is a lab manual containing instructions for twenty radiochemistry experiments. It is made available free of charge. In addition, a number of books and manuals, many of which you will find indispensable, are on course reserve in the Chemistry-Physics Library or in the lab. You will find these resources listed in your manual, along with a code denoting their availability.

Course Coverage

Students taking CHE 521 for one credit will be required to perform the first six experiments and are expected to complete three additional experiments from the laboratory manual for a total of nine experiments.

Students taking the course for two credits will be required (1) to perform the first nine experiments, (2) to complete five additional experiments from the laboratory manual (for a total of 14 experiments) and (3) to perform a special project. Students who have previously completed laboratory experiments similar to the required experiments may make arrangements with the instructor for alternate experiments.

Each experiment in the manual can be completed in one laboratory period. Periods are scheduled from 1-4 p.m.; you are expected to be finished in the lab no later than 4:30 p.m.

Experiment                             Title

    1        Use of a Gas-Flow Geiger-Mueller Counter
    2        Sample Preparation and Counting Statistics
    3        Properties of Alpha Particles
    4        Introduction to Liquid Scintillation Counting
    5        Use of an Isotopic Neutron Source and Simple Decay Curve
    6        Radiochemical Separations by Solvent Extraction and Ion
               Exchange Chromatography
    7        Gamma-ray Spectroscopy
    8        X-ray Fluorescence
    9        Neutron Activation Analysis
   10        Determination of Emax for Beta Emitters by the Absorption
   11        Determination of the Formation Constant of a Complex Ion
   12        Radioactivity Production in a Nuclear Particle Bombardment
   13        Effects of Quenching Agents on Beta Spectra
   14        Beta Spectra and Kurie Plots
   15        Kinetics of an Isotopic Exchange Reaction
   16        Radioactive Equilibria and Complex Decay Curves
   17        Isotope Dilution Analysis and Electrodeposition
   18        Determination of the Half-life of 40K
   19        Depth Gauging with a Gamma-ray Source
   20        Szilard Chalmers Process with Ethyl Iodide

Laboratory Reports

All of your written work must be done in a research style carbon copy notebook. The carbon copies will be collected for grading. The sections to be included in your notebook for each experiment are: The Purpose Statement, Procedure, and Data Tables (appropriate blank data tables) must be prepared before you will be allowed to start an experiment.

All reports are due one week after the experiment is completed. You will be penalized 20% per week from the final grade on the report if it is submitted late. The lab reports consist of:

  1. The carbon copies from your research notebook (Purpose Statement, Procedure, Data, Calculations)

  2. A TYPED Discussion/Conclusion of the experiment

  3. Any appropriate graphs or figures

  4. Answers to any questions and problems in the post mortem section of the laboratory manual. The writing in the Discussion/Conclusion should be well-organized and logical, arranged properly in paragraphs. The Discussion/Conclusion will be graded both for content and style. The reports will be graded on a ten-point basis.

    Laboratory schedule

    Several free periods will be scheduled during the course of the semester. The laboratory will be open during these periods. You may come in to make up an experiment, repeat work with which you are not satisfied, or work ahead on a later experiment. Please let us know a week ahead if you will be using any particular equipment so we can avoid scheduling conflicts. No regular experiments will be scheduled during the last week of classes.


    A laboratory practical examination will be scheduled near the end of the semester. This exam will will cover only experiments you have actually performed.


    The final grade for the course will be based on your laboratory reports and notebook (70%), the laboratory practical examination (20%), and a laboratory evaluation grade (10%).

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    This page was last updated Nov. 01, 2004.