When nuclear reactions occur, energy is released in several forms: electromagnetic energy is emitted in the form of gamma-rays, x-rays, ultraviolet radiation and visible light; energy is also released as energetic (translationally fast or internally excited) nuclei, electrons and other subatomic particles, and energetic atoms. All of these photons and particles may react further with their surroundings and induce subsequent chemistry. The field of radiation chemistry seeks to define how this excess energy is absorbed and the course of reactions thereby induced. It is closely related to other fields such as photochemistry, which considers the consequences of absorption of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation; radiobiology, which is concerned with absorption of ionizing radiation by living systems, and radiochemistry, in which chemical reactions are probed using detection of reactant and product concentrations with radioactively labeled compounds.
Last Modified: June 28, 2012