SAT Subject Test Chemistry
REVIEW OF MAJOR TOPICS
Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table of the Elements
METHODS OF DETECTION OF ALPHA, BETA, AND GAMMA RAYS
All methods of detection of these radiations rely on their ability to ionize. Three methods are in common use.
1. Photographic plate. The fogging of a photographic emulsion led to the discovery of radioactivity. If this emulsion is viewed under a high-power microscope, it is seen that beta and gamma rays cause the silver bromide grains to develop in a scattered fashion.
2. Scintillation counter. A fluorescent screen (e.g., ZnS) will show the presence of electrons and X-rays, as already mentioned. If the screen is viewed with a magnifying eyepiece, small flashes of light, called scintillations, will be observed. By observing the scintillations, one not only can detect the presence of alpha particles, but also can actually count them.
3. Geiger counter. This instrument is perhaps the most widely used at the present time for determining individual radiation. Any particle that will produce an ion gives rise to an avalanche of ions, so the type of particle cannot be identified. However, each individual particle can be detected.