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Unstable Isotopes

Unstable Isotopes


Our tutorial is designed to provide comprehension of basic scientific concepts such as isotypes.  An isotope is a variation of an element that contains the same number of protons and electrons, but has different numbers of neutrons. You will learn how to identify stable and unstable isotopes by examining their atomic structure, and discover the radioactivity of unstable isotopes.  

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An isotope is a variation of the same element with a different number of neutrons in their nucleus. Isotopes can be classified as either stable or unstable. An unstable isotope undergoes radioactive decay meaning it looses energy over time while emitting radiation. For example, carbon has three isotopes and they are carbon 12, carbon 13 and carbon 14. Carbon 12 is an example of a stable isotope while carbon 14 is an example of an unstable isotope. Unstable isotopes can release a lot of energy as they decay radioactively. Radioactivity is when an atom emits radiation such as in an unstable isotope.

We can use the radioactivity of unstable elements for many things such as dating natural materials, medicinal purposes, energy use and industry use.


carbon 14 can be used to date fossils