Ellen Gleditsch Pioneer In Radiochemistry | Demonstrated Isotopes Existence

Ellen Gleditsch – pioneer in radiochemistry

Ellen Gleditsch RadioChemistry

Biography & contributions

Ellen Gleditsch was a Norwegian radiochemist and professor born on December 29, 1879 – died on June 05, 1968. Gleditsch was pioneer woman in radiochemistry and introducer of concept called half-life of radium metal.

Gleditsch’s other important works are demonstrated the existence of isotopes, demonstrated that the ratio of uranium to radium differs for different radioactive minerals. In 1907 Gleditsch worked as assistant to Marie Curie and in 1913 she was awarded with scholarship from the American Scandinavian Foundation.

Half-Life of radioactive elements

Generally nuclei of radioactive atoms are unstable and break down and change into a completely different type of atom. It can be defined as

‘The half-life of a radioactive isotope is the time taken for half its radioactive atoms to decay.’

The half-life is independent of the physical states - solid state, liquid state and gaseous state -temperature, pressure, the chemical compound in which the nucleus finds itself.

It is independent of the chemistry of the atomic surface, and ordinary physical factors of the outside world. The only thing which can alter the half-life is direct nuclear interaction with a particle from outside.


Actinium - Ac-225 - 10.0 days

Barium - Ba-137m - 2.552 minutes

Carbon - C-14 - 5730 years

Iodine - I-125 - 60.14 days


Isotopes are variants of a particular chemical element such that while all isotopes of a given element have the same number of protons in each atom, they differ in neutron number. Some isotopes are radioactive, and are therefore described as radioisotopes or radionuclides, while others have never been observed to undergo radioactive decay and are described as stable isotopes or stable nuclides. Isotopic substitution can be used to determine the mechanism of a chemical reaction via the kinetic isotope effect. Isotope analysis is the determination of isotopic signature, the relative abundances of isotopes of a given element in a particular sample.

Isotopes are commonly used to determine the concentration of various elements or substances using the isotope dilution method, whereby known amounts of isotopically-substituted compounds are mixed with the samples and the isotopic signatures of the resulting mixtures are determined with mass spectrometry.

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