Thursday, May 26, 2011

Difference between Ionizing radiation & Non-ionizing radiation

Well as we all know that the term "ionization" refers to dissociating electrons from its atom. In chemistry terminology we do refer as first ionization potential referring to removal of electron from outermost orbit(nth orbit) , second ionization potential refers to removal of electrons from second orbit form (n-1) and so on. Ionization radiation is the flux of energetic particles emanating from various nuclear and atomic transitions capable of ionizing atoms in a medium. Of course the extent of ionization depends on the materialistic medium on which these particles impinges.Ionization gets influenced by physical parameters like charge, mass and energy of incident particles. This is one of the reason that uncharged particles cannot ionize.
Some of the ionizing radiation for your notice are alpha, beta, and many other charged elementary particles.
Non-ionizing radiation on other hand is just converse of the above. The particles which are incapable of doing ionization in a medium are referred to as non-ionization radiation. It is worth to note an important point that energy needed to cause ionization pair in most of the gas medium and human tissues is of order of few electron volt.
Hence most of the non-ionizing radiation comprises of uncharged particle. For instance, Neutron even with high energies cannot ionize the medium.            
Most people confuse about gamma by considering it as ionization particle but the fact is that it doesn't ionize directly. In fact it interacts with medium in 3 types namely photo-electric effect, Compton effect and pair production in which energetic electron gets liberated which actually causes the ionization.    

After differentiating the above differences let us see the advantages of these radiations.

Advantages of ionization radiation:-
i) Treatment of cancer in patients. The utilisation of radiation therapy is increasing world wide and about 30 % of cancers are getting cured with the treatment. Innovation in the technology is rising up like proton therapy to reduce the dose and damage to the normal cells.    
ii) Food sterilisation
iii) Accelerators for  producing radioactive isotopes
iv) research applications like study of elementary particles
Advantages of non-ionization radiation:-
Just observe your sorroundings. The mobile which you are using, microwave oven, laser pointers, fluorescent bulbs etc all of these based on non ionizing radiation.

And finally the most important thing to mention is that ionization most of the radiation detectors work on principle of ionization as ionization radiation do have more impact on human tissue.
What ever it may be, either the ionization or non-ionization radiation is beneficial to mankind if used in a innovative technological ways.