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1.

Which of the following gives the correct number of protons and neutrons in a nucleus of
carbon-14 ( 146 C )?

Protons Neutrons
A. 8 6
B. 6 8
C. 14 6
D. 6 14
(Total 1 mark)

2. A freshly prepared sample contains 4.0 µg of iodine-131. After 24 days, 0.5 µg of iodine-131
remain. The best estimate of the half-life of iodine-131 is

A. 8 days.

B. 12 days.

C. 24 days.

D. 72 days.
(Total 1 mark)

3. The half-life of a radioactive isotope is 10 days. What is the percentage of the sample
remaining after 25 days?

A. 0%

B. 18 %

C. 25 %

D. 40 %
(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 1
4. This question is about radioactive decay.

Iodine-124 (I-124) is an unstable radioisotope with proton number 53. It undergoes beta plus
decay to form an isotope of tellurium (Te).

(a) State the reaction for the decay of the I-124 nuclide.

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(2)

(b) The graph below shows how the activity of a sample of iodine-124 changes with time.

(i) State the half-life of iodine-124

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 2
(ii) Calculate the activity of the sample at 21 days.

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(3)

(iii) A sample of an unknown radioisotope has a half-life twice that of iodine-124 and
the same initial activity as the sample of iodine-124. On the axes opposite, draw a
graph to show how the activity of the sample would change with time.
Label this graph X.
(1)

(iv) A second sample of iodine-124 has half the initial activity as the original sample of
iodine-124. On the axes opposite, draw a graph to show how the activity of this
sample would change with time. Label this graph Y.
(1)
(Total 8 marks)

IB Questionbank Physics 3
5. Two samples of radioactive substances X and Y have the same initial activity. The half-life of
X is T and the half-life of Y is 3T. After a time of 3T the ratio

activity of substance X
is
activity of substance Y

A. 8.

B. 4.

1
C. .
4

1
D. .
8
(Total 1 mark)

6. This question is about radioactive decay.

(a) The decay constant for a particular isotope is λ = 0.048 s–1. A sample of the isotope
initially contains 2.0 × 1012 nuclei of this isotope.

(i) Define decay constant.

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(1)

(ii) Estimate the number of nuclei that will decay in the first second.

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 4
(b) The graph shows the variation with time t of the activity A of a sample containing
radioactive material that consists of two different isotopes. Each isotope decays into a
stable daughter isotope.

(i) Use the graph to explain how it may be deduced that the sample contains more
than one isotope.

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(2)

IB Questionbank Physics 5
(ii) One of the isotopes in the sample has a half-life that is shorter than 0.20 s. Use the
graph to estimate the half-life of the other isotope. Explain your working.

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(2)
(Total 6 marks)

7. The relationship between proton number Z, neutron number N and nucleon number A is

A. A = Z – N.

B. Z = A + N.

C. N = A – Z.

D. N = A +Z.
(Total 1 mark)

8. This question is about nuclear decay and ionization.

(a) A nucleus of radium-91 ( 226


91 Ra ) undergoes alpha particle decay to form a nucleus of

radon (Rn).

Identify the proton number and nucleon number of the nucleus of Rn.

Proton number: ............................................................................................................

Nucleon number: .........................................................................................................


(2)

(b) Immediately after the decay of a stationary radium nucleus, the alpha particle and the
radon nucleus move off in opposite directions and at different speeds.

IB Questionbank Physics 6
(i) Outline the reasons for these observations.

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(3)

(ii) Show that the ratio

initial kinetic energy of alpha particle


initial kinetic energy of radon atom

is about 56.

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(3)

(c) The initial kinetic energy of the alpha particle is 4.9 MeV. As the alpha particle passes
through air, it loses all its kinetic energy by causing the ionization of 1.7 × 105 air
molecules.

(i) State what is meant by ionization.

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 7
(ii) Estimate, in joules, the average energy needed to ionize an air molecule.

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(2)

(d) Outline why a beta particle has a longer range in air than an alpha particle of the same
energy.

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(3)
(Total 14 marks)

9. Which of the following decay sequences would result in the daughter nucleus having the same
proton number as the parent nucleus?

A. Alpha followed by gamma

B. Beta (β–) followed by gamma

C. Alpha followed by beta (β–) followed by beta (β–)

D. Beta (β–) followed by gamma followed by gamma


(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 8
10. This question is about radioactive decay.

(a) A nucleus of a radioactive isotope of gold (Au-189) emits a neutrino in the decay to a
nucleus of an isotope of platinum (Pt).

In the nuclear reaction equation below, state the name of the particle X and identify the
nucleon number A and proton number Z of the nucleus of the isotope of platinum.

79 Au → Z Pt + X +v
189 A

X: ................................................................................................................................

A: ................................................................................................................................

Z: ................................................................................................................................
(2)

(b) The half-life of Au-189 is 8.84 minutes. A freshly prepared sample of the isotope has an
activity of 124 Bq.

(i) Calculate the decay constant of Au-189.

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(1)

(ii) Determine the activity of the sample after 12.0 min.

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(2)
(Total 5 marks)

IB Questionbank Physics 9
11. The graph below shows the number of nuclei N of a radioactive isotope as a function of time t.

The slope of the curve at any given time is

A. independent of the decay constant.

B. proportional to the half-life of the isotope.

C. proportional to the number of radioactive nuclei remaining at that time.

D. proportional to the number of radioactive nuclei decayed.


(Total 1 mark)

12. Emission and absorption spectra provide evidence for

A. the nuclear model of the atom.

B. natural radioactivity.

C. the existence of isotopes.

D. the existence of atomic energy levels.


(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 10
13. When a nucleus undergoes radioactive β+ decay, the change in the number of particles in the
universe is

A. 0.

B. 1.

C. 2.

D. 3.
(Total 1 mark)

14. An alpha particle is accelerated through a potential difference of 10 kV. Its gain in kinetic
energy is

A. 10 eV.

B. 20 eV.

C. 10 keV.

D. 20 keV.
(Total 1 mark)

15. This question is about β+ (positron) decay.

(a) In a β+ decay, a positron is emitted along with a neutrino, and a γ-ray photon.
Although the energy spectrum for γ-rays involved is discrete, the energy spectrum for the
positrons is continuous.

(i) State the difference between a discrete energy spectrum and a continuous energy
spectrum.

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 11
(ii) Explain how the existence of the neutrino accounts for the continuous nature of the
positron energy spectrum.

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(2)

(b) Sodium-22 is a radioisotope used in nuclear medicine that undergoes β+ decay.


The half-life of sodium-22 is 2.6 years.
A sample of sodium-22 has an initial activity of 6.2 × 109 Bq.

(i) Define decay constant.

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(1)

(ii) Calculate the decay constant of sodium-22.

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 12
(iii) Calculate the activity of the sample of sodium-22 after 8.0 years.

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(3)
(Total 8 marks)

16. A nucleus of the isotope potassium-40 decays to a nucleus of the isotope argon-40. The reaction
equation for this decay may be written as

40
19 K → 40
Z Ar +X+ν

Which of the following correctly identifies the proton number of argon-40 and the particle X?

Z X
A. 18 β–
B. 18 β+
C. 19 β+
D. 19 β–
(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 13
17. Which of the following causes the greatest number of ionizations as it passes through 1 cm of
air?
(The total energy of the ionizing radiation is the same.)

A. An alpha particle

B. A beta particle

C. A gamma-ray

D. An X-ray
(Total 1 mark)

18. The number of neutrons and the number of protons in a nucleus of an atom of the isotope of
uranium 235
92 U are

Neutrons Protons
A. 92 143
B. 143 92
C. 235 92
D. 92 235
(Total 1 mark)

19. This question is about nuclear physics and radioactive decay.

(a) Define the decay constant of a radioactive nuclide.

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 14
(b) (i) Plutonium-239 (Pu-239) has a half-life of 2.4 × 104 years. Show that the decay
constant of Pu-239 is approximately 3 × 10–5 year–1.

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(1)

(ii) Calculate the time taken for the activity of a freshly-prepared sample of Pu-239 to
fall to 0.1 % of its initial value.

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(2)
(Total 4 marks)

20. Which of the following correctly identifies the three particles emitted in the decay of the
45
nucleus 20 Ca into a nucleus of 45
21 Sc ?

A. α, β–, γ

B. β–, γ, v

C. α, γ, v

D. α, β–, v
(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 15
21. A radioactive isotope has an initial activity A0 and a half-life of 1 day. The graph shows how
the activity A varies with time.

A0
The ratio is equal to which of the following?
A2

A1
A.
A3

A0
B.
A3

A0
C.
2

A3
D.
3
(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 16
22. A radioactive substance S has a decay constant λS, substance T has a decay constant λT.
Initially, a sample of S contains NS nuclei and a sample of T contains NT nuclei. The initial
activity of both samples is the same.

NS
The ratio is
NT

A. 1

λS
B.
λT

λT
C.
λS

D. λSλT
(Total 1 mark)

23. Which of the following decay sequences would result in the daughter nucleus having the same
proton number as the parent nucleus?

A. Alpha followed by gamma

B. Beta (β– ) followed by gamma

C. Alpha followed by beta (β–) followed by beta (β–)

D. Beta (β–) followed by gamma followed by gamma


(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 17
24. A radioactive isotope has a half-life of two minutes. A sample contains sixteen grams of the
isotope. How much time elapses until one gram of the isotope remains?

A. 6 minutes

B. 8 minutes

C. 10 minutes

D. 12 minutes
(Total 1 mark)

25. Two samples of radioactive substances X and Y have the same initial activity. The half-life of
X is T and the half-life of Y is 3T. After a time of 3T the ratio

activity of substance X
is
activity of substance Y

A. 8.

B. 4.

1
C. .
4

1
D. .
8
(Total 1 mark)

26. Radioactive decay

(a) Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 5500 years. It is produced in the
atmosphere by neutron bombardment of nitrogen. The equation for this reaction is

14
7 N + 01 n → 146 C + X.

(i) Explain what is meant by isotopes.

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 18
(ii) Identify the particle X.

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(1)

(b) Each gram of a living tree contains approximately 4 × 1010 atoms of carbon-14.

On the axes below, draw a graph to show the variation with time of the number of
carbon-14 atoms in one gram of wood from a tree. Your graph should indicate the
number of atoms for a period of 1.8 × 104 years after the tree has died. (Half-life of
carbon-14 = 5500 years)

(3)

IB Questionbank Physics 19
(c) The activity of a radioactive sample is proportional to the number of atoms in the sample.
The activity per gram of carbon from a living tree is 9.6 disintegrations per minute. The
activity per gram of carbon in burnt wood found at an ancient campsite is 1.9
disintegrations per minute.

(i) Estimate the number of atoms of carbon-14 in the burnt wood.

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(1)

(ii) From the graph you have drawn in (b), estimate the age of the burnt wood.

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(1)
(Total 7 marks)

27. Which of the following is true about beta minus (β–) decay?

A. An antineutrino is absorbed.

B. The charge of the daughter nuclide is less than that of the parent nuclide.

C. An antineutrino is emitted.

D. The mass number of the daughter nuclide is less than that of the parent nuclide.
(Total 1 mark)

28. A sample contains an amount of radioactive material with a half-life of 3.5 days. After 2 weeks
the fraction of the radioactive material remaining is

A. 94 %.

B. 25 %.

C. 6 %.

D. 0 %.
(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 20
29. A radioactive isotope has a half-life of five minutes. A particular nucleus of this isotope has not
decayed within a time interval of five minutes. A correct statement about the next five minute
interval is that this nucleus

A. has a lower than 50 % chance of decaying.

B. will certainly decay.

C. has a 50 % chance of decaying.

D. has a better than 50 % chance of decaying.


(Total 1 mark)

30. A radio-isotope has an activity of 400 Bq and a half-life of 8 days. After 32 days the activity of
the sample is

A. 200 Bq.

B. 100 Bq.

C. 50 Bq.

D. 25 Bq.
(Total 1 mark)

F ¬31. The initial activity of a sample of a radioactive isotope of half-life 10 hours is A. What is the
A
age of the sample when its activity is ?
32

A. 30 hours

B. 40 hours

C. 50 hours

D. 320 hours
(Total 1 mark)

IB Questionbank Physics 21
32. This question is about radioactive decay.

Nitrogen-13 ( 137 N ) is an isotope that is used in medical diagnosis. The decay constant of
nitrogen-13 is 1.2 × 10–3 s–1.

(a) (i) Define decay constant.

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(1)

(ii) A sample of nitrogen-13 has an initial activity of 800 Bq. The sample cannot be
used for diagnostic purposes if its activity becomes less than 150 Bq. Determine
the time it takes for the activity of the sample to fall to 150 Bq.

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(2)

(b) (i) Calculate the half-life of nitrogen-13

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(1)

IB Questionbank Physics 22
(ii) Outline how the half-life of a sample of nitrogen-13 can be measured in a
laboratory.

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(3)

(c) Nitrogen-13 undergoes β+ decay. Outline the experimental evidence that suggests another
particle, the neutrino, is also emitted in the decay.

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(2)
(Total 9 marks)

IB Questionbank Physics 23