04 Jun Nuclear Chemistry
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Nuclear chemistry is the study of the changes that occur in the physical and chemical properties of elements as influenced by the changes in the atomic nucleus. Sometimes referred to as radiochemistry, nuclear chemistry has evolved in its applications, from the study of formation of elements in the universe to the design of radioactive drugs for medicinal uses. Over the years, the chemical techniques formulated by nuclear chemists have gained importance to this level that biologists, geologists and physicists use nuclear chemistry as a research tool for their field of study. Previously nuclear chemistry was considered as a subject involving the study of radioactive nuclei. It is the advances in modern mass spectrometry instrumentation that has made nuclear studies more stable and increasingly important. Radioactive elements have three sources: Primordial nuclides, cosmogenic nuclides and anthropogenic nuclides. Primordial nuclides are radioactive elements occurring naturally, derived from the radioactive decay of thorium and uranium. Cosmogenic nuclides are protons ejected from the Sun and are considered natural in their origin. The final source of radioactive nuclides is anthropogenic which are the results occurring from human activity in the production of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Nuclear chemists play an important role in the field of nuclear medicine. Being a rapidly expanding field of study, nuclear medicine uses radioactive isotopes to diagnose illnesses and treat specific diseases. Nuclear medicine has gained prime importance over the years. It destroys tumors by using radioactive compounds at controlled doses. This technique is considered more effective as it uses biological chemistry to specify target cells more precisely than traditional radiation therapy that utilize radiation from external sources to kill tumor cells killing non target cells. In addition, the use of pharmaceuticals has provided curable solutions to nuclear chemists and physicians for analyzing brain activity to gain a wider understanding of the basis of diseases like Parkinson’s disease to drug abuse.