Isotope – is a variety of an atom of a chemical element that differs from other isotopes of the same element in the number of neutrons in the nucleus. In other words, all atoms of one element have the same number of protons in the nucleus (which determines its atomic number) but can have different numbers of neutrons, which determine their mass number.
Isotopes are usually denoted using the element symbol and mass number (the sum of protons and neutrons in the nucleus). For example, the isotope of hydrogen with one proton and no neutrons is called protium or hydrogen-1. And the isotope of hydrogen with one proton and one neutron is called deuterium or hydrogen-2.
Uses of Isotopes
Isotopes are of significant importance in many fields of science and technology. One of the main uses of isotopes is in radiomarker diagnostics and treatment of various diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and others. Isotopes are also used for studying natural processes, material analysis, and process control in industries.
In nuclear energy, isotopes are utilized for generating electricity in nuclear power plants and in nuclear weapons. Isotopes are also used in radioactive sensors to measure various parameters in nature and technology, such as temperature, humidity, radiation levels, and more.
Important isotopes include those of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and other elements that have biological significance. For example, radioactive carbon-14 is used for determining the age of organic materials, such as animal skeletons and plant remains.
Isotopes also play a crucial role in the study of natural processes, such as geological and astronomical processes. Their applications in these fields involve determining the age and composition of rocks, establishing the chemical composition of cosmic inclusions and other materials, studying the movement of materials in hydrological and atmospheric processes, as well as determining the age and evolution of stars.
In scientific research, isotopes are used to study the chemical and physical properties of materials, establish precise material compositions, investigate reactions and processes in chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and other scientific disciplines.