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88-2001 AL ESSAY (Radioactivity, Light & Electrons)

88 (5)
(a) Compare the appropriate physical conservation laws which apply to
(i) elastic and
(ii) non-elastic
collisions between a moving non-rotating body and a stationary body.
(3 marks)
(b) give brief accounts of the following collision, explaining whether they are elastic
or non-elastic:
(i) high energy α-particle scattering by atoms in thin metal foils.
(ii) slow neutron bombardment of 235U atoms.
(iii) high energy electron collisions with gaseous xenon atoms.
(7 marks)
(c) Describe the Franck-Hertz experimental investigation of the effect of varying the
electron energy in (iii) and briefly explain the importance of the results.
(6 marks)

89 (3)
(a) Describe the main characteristics of light when considered as
(I) a wave propagation, and
(II) moving particles.
(5 marks)
(b) Give a brief account of an experiment which illustrates the wave nature of light
AND a second experiment which illustrates its particle nature (no mathematical
derivations expected)
(9 marks)

89 (5)
(a) Radioactive elements occur in nature. Summarise their unique characteristics,
including how their activity decays.
(4 marks)
(b) Describe an experiment, performable in a school laboratory, to measure a
radioactive half-life.
(8 marks)
(c) Explain the method of archeological dating using carbon-14.
(4 marks)

90 (5)
(c) Suggest a possible hazard of sitting too near a color television, giving a brief
(2 marks)
91 (5)
(a) Explain how you would distinguish experimentally between α, ß and
γ-radiating radioactive sources using a Geiger-muller counter detection system.
(6 marks)
(b) What changes take place in the constituents of the nuclei when such
radiation are emitted?

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(3 marks)
(c) Explain your choice of type of radiation source, giving brief details of use for
(i) monitoring paper thickness, during manufacture,
(ii) estimating the size of nuclei and
(iii) treating body cancer by destroying cancer cells.
(7 marks)

92 (1)
(c) Briefly discuss the conservation of energy in regard to
(i) the results of the Franck-Hertz experiment
(No experimental circuit details or theoretical details are expected.)
(? marks)
92 (5)
(c) describe an experiment to measure the charge/mass (e/m) ratio for electrons
using an electric field and magnetic field perpendicular to each other. (No theory
of the production of the magnetic field is expected.) Briefly indicate main
(7 marks)

93 (4)
(a) Explain each of the three terms in Einstein's photoelectric equation
1 2
mv m = hν - φ .
(2 marks)
(b) Figure illustrates the basic features of the laboratory apparatus for investigating
photoelectricity. It contains a vacuum photoelectric cell P with a photosensitive
metal C of large area and a collector of electrons D.

(i) Sketch a graph showing the dependence of the current i through the ammeter
on the potential difference V (V = potential of D - potential of C). Your graph
should cover both positive and negative values of V. Briefly explain the shape
of your graph.
(ii) Copy the graph you have drawn in (i) and sketch on it the curves for
(I) increased light intensity, with the light frequency being kept constant;
(II) increased light frequency, with the light intensity being kept constant.
Explain briefly.
(9 marks)
94 (5)
(a) (i) What is meant by the ‘binding energy’ of a nucleus ?

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(ii) Sketch a graph of binding energy per nucleon against mass number and use
it to explain why
235 56
(I) a U nucleus is not as stable as a Fe nucleus; and
(II) a nucleus of mass number 200 readily undergoes fission but a nucleus of
mass number 20 does not.
(7 marks)
(b) (i) For a nuclear fission reactor in normal operation, nuclear fission must
be controlled so that on average only one neutron from each fission produces
another fission. Explain why this is necessary.
(ii) Give two components of a nuclear fission reactor which are responsible
for controlling the number of neutrons producing further fission. Briefly
describe their actions.
(5 marks)
(c) (i) State two advantages of using fusion as a source of energy, compared with
using fission.
(ii) Give the reason(s) for hindering the practical use of controlled fusion as a source
of energy.
(4 marks)
95 (3)
(c) (i) State two differences between laser light and light emitted by a light
(ii) What is meant by 'population inversion'? How do gas lasers rely on this to
(iii) State and explain two advantages of using laser for cutting over
mechanical devices.
(8 marks)

95 (5)
(b) A spectrometer together with a diffraction grating can also be used to
observe the line emission spectrum from a hydrogen discharge tube.
(i) Explain why hydrogen atoms emit light only of discrete wavelengths.
(ii) How does this kind of spectrum differ from a line absorption spectrum?
Explain how an absorption spectrum can be formed. (5 marks)
(c) (i) Sketch a graph of typical X-ray spectrum, and explain how the characteristic
and continuous parts of the spectrum are formed.
(ii) Why is there a definite minimum wavelength of the X-rays produced?
(7 marks)

96 (3)
Models are frequently used by physicists to illustrate abstract concepts. This question
deals with three of them.
(c) (i) One of the early models of an atom was introduced by Rutherford. Give a
brief description of this atomic model.
(ii) How could this model explain the experimental results obtained in the α
-particle scattering experiment ?
(iii) Name ONE phenomenon of an atom that Rutherford's model failed to
account for.
(6 marks)

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96 (5)
(a) Draw a labelled diagram of the basic structure of a cathode-ray tube (CRT)
including the electron gun, the deflecting system, the display system and a
potentiometer circuit for the E.H.T. supply applied to various parts of the CRT.
detailed electronic circuits NOT required.)
(4 marks)
(b) (i) Describe briefly how electrons are produced in the electron gun.
(ii) Explain how the sharpness and brightness of the trace on the screen of a
CRT can be adjusted.
(iii) Explain why the inside of a CRT is coated with graphite and why it is
(6 marks)
(c) (i) With the aid of a graph, describe the function of the time base circuit in a
(ii) At the input select of a CRO, the input terminal for a.c., compared with that
for d.c., has an extra built-in component. Name that component and state its
(4 marks)
(d) A CRO can be used to measure voltages. Give TWO advantages and TWO
disadvantages of using a CRO as a voltmeter as compared with a moving-coil
(2 marks)

5. (a) (i) With the aid of a labelled diagram, explain the working
principles of a diffusion cloud chamber. State, with brief
explanations, TWO properties of the radiations that could be
investigated by the cloud chamber.
(ii) The tracks of an α-source are observed in a diffusion cloud chamber in
which a trace amount of helium is introduced. Sketch the tracks observed
when there is an oblique collision between an α-particle and a helium atom.
Show, with mathematical derivation, how the mass of an α-particle can be
deduced from these tracks. (The speed of the helium atom before collision is
assumed to be negligible.)
(10 marks)

(b) Explain, through analogous comparison with throwing dice, what is meant by
radioactive decay being a ‘random process’. Hence deduce from first principles the
exponential law of decay of a radioactive source. (No need to describe the dice
(Given: ∫ = ln x + C )
(6 marks)

5. (a) Compare how electrons are emitted from metal surfaces in
(i) thermionic emission and
(ii) photoelectric emission.

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Suggest TWO reasons why thermionic emission and not photoelectric emission is
usually employed in a cathode ray tube for the production of electrons.
(3 marks)
(b) (i) State TWO experimental facts about photoelectric effect which cannot be
explained by the wave theory of light.
(ii) Based on the photon theory of light and his photoelectric equation
K max = hv − φ (Kmax = maximum kinetic energy of emitted
photoelectrons), Einstein explained the experimental observation of
photoelectric effect described above.
(I) State the significance of the terms hν and φ in Einstein’s equation.

(II) Explain carefully how Einstein can account for each of the two
experimental facts in (b) (i).
(6 marks)
(c) (i) Explain the origin of the characteristic lines in the hydrogen emission
spectrum and the X-ray spectrum. Why do the lines in the X-ray spectrum
have much shorter wavelengths?
(ii) Explain why there is a continuous spectrum with a minimum wavelength in
the X-ray spectrum.
(7 marks)
(b) (i) To check for oil leaks in underground pipelines, a radioactive
source is put into the pipeline and the radiation is detected on
the ground. Discuss what kind of radioactive sources is/are
suitable for this purpose.

(ii) Radioactive substance Half-life Radiation emitted

Radon-222 3.8 days α
Iodine-131 8 days γ

(I) Radon gas is usually present in the environment of concrete buildings.

Explain why radon is considered to be hazardous to human beings
and why opening windows is a way to minimize its hazardous effects.

(II) Iodine-131 is used for investigating the absorption of iodine by the

thyroid gland. Discuss the suitability of using iodine-131 for this
(7 marks)

(c) The wave theory of light is inadequate for giving a complete explanation of
the photoelectric effect, which shows that electromagnetic radiation
possesses particle-like properties.
(i) What is the photoelectric effect?
(ii) Identify and explain TWO experimental results in photoelectric
experiments which demonstrate the inadequacy of the wave theory

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of light.
(5 marks)
(b) Energy is released in radioactive decay and nuclear fission. Both
processes involve the activities of an atomic nucleus.
(i) State THREE differences between these two processes.
(ii) Sketch a graph of the binding energy per nucleon against nucleon
against nucleon number and explain why energy can be released
in a nuclear fission. Indicate the approximate portion of the graph
within which fission may occur.
(6 marks)
(c) (i) What is meant by a chain reaction? Discuss whether a chain
reaction can be sustained in a nuclear reactor if natural uranium is
(ii) Explain the function of the control rods and the moderator in the
steady generation of power inside a nuclear reactor.
(5 marks)


(a) Give TWO pieces of experimental evidence which support the nuclear
model of an atom with energy levels. Briefly explain the implications
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associated with these pieces of experimental evidence.
(4 marks)
(b) The energy levels of a hydrogen atom, in eV, are given by

En = -13.6/n2 where n = 1,2,3…

(i) With the aid of an energy level diagram, explain the terms
ground state and ionization potential as applied to a hydrogen
(ii) Describe TWO ways to bring about excitation of a hydrogen
atom. How does the concept of energy levels explain the
emission line spectrum of hydrogen?
(7 marks)
(c) Under certain circumstances, electrons can be emitted from substances
by photoelectric effect, thermionic emission or radioactivity. For each
process, briefly describe the condition(s) for electron emission and
compare the maximum kinetic energy of the emitted electrons.
(5 marks)

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