Home - Education Resources - NDT Course Material - Radiography


Present State
Future Direction

Physics of Radiography
Nature of Penetrating Radiation
Gamma Rays
Decay Rate
  -Carbon 14 Dating
Inverse Square Law
Interaction of RT/Matter
Attenuation Coefficient
Half-Value Layer
Sources of Attenuation
  -Compton Scattering
Geometric Unsharpness
Filters in Radiography
Scatter/Radiation Control
Radiation Safety

Equipment & Materials
X-ray Generators
Radio Isotope Sources
Radiographic Film
Exposure Vaults

Techniques & Calibrations
Imaging Consideration
Radiographic Density
Characteristic Curves
Exposure Calculations
Controlling Quality

Film Processing
Viewing Radiographs
Radiograph Interp-Welds
Radiograph Interp - Castings

Advanced Techniques
Real-time Radiography
Computed Tomography



Activity (of Radionuclides)

The quantity which expresses the degree of radioactivity or the radiation producing potential of a given amount of radioactive material is activity. The curie was originally defined as that amount of any radioactive material that disintegrates at the same rate as one gram of pure radium. The curie has since been defined more precisely as a quantity of radioactive material in which 3.7 x 1010 atoms disintegrate per second. The International System (SI) unit for activity is the Becquerel (Bq), which is that quantity of radioactive material in which one atom is transformed per second. The radioactivity of a given amount of radioactive material does not depend upon the mass of material present. For example, two one-curie sources of Cs-137 might have very different masses depending upon the relative proportion of non-radioactive atoms present in each source. Radioactivity is expressed as the number of curies or becquerels per unit mass or volume.

The concentration of radioactivity, or the relationship between the mass of radioactive material and the activity, is called "specific activity." Specific activity is expressed as the number of curies or becquerels per unit mass or volume. Each gram of cobalt-60 will contain approximately 50 curies. Iridium-192 will contain 350 curies for every gram of material. The shorter half-life, the less amount of material that will be required to produce a given activity or curies. The higher specific activity of iridium results in physically smaller sources. This allows technicians to place the source in closer proximity to the film while maintaining geometric unsharpness requirements on the radiograph. These unsharpness requirements may not be met if a source with a low specific activity were used at similar source to film distances.