Why is it important to know the energy of the radiation?

It is important to know the energy of the radiation because the energy controls the penetrating power of the radiation. Higher energy radiation can penetrate more amounts of material and harder to penetrate materials. From the standpoint of doctor or radiography, knowing the energy range of radiation is important in determining the proper exposure for producing a radiograph. Too little energy results in no penetrating power, and too much energy results in excessive penetration and over exposure of the film. In either case the radiograph will be unsatisfactory. We will discuss this in more detail a little later.

How do we measure radiation?

It is common practice to measure x and gamma rays in one of two units, which are thousand electron volts (Kev), or million electron volts (Mev). What is an electron volt, you might ask? An electron volt is an amount of energy equal to the energy gained by one electron when it is accelerated by one volt. For example, if one electron was accelerated by a potential of 10 thousand volts (10 Kv), then the electron would have an energy of 10 thousand electron volts (10 Kev). If all of the accelerating energy were converted to electromagnetic energy, it would result in a 10 Kev x-ray.


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