Natural Products Chemistry & Research

ISSN - 2329-6836

Review Article - (2017) Volume 5, Issue 6

Unearthing of Radioisotopes

Nida Tabassum Khan*
Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Life Sciences and Informatics, Quetta, Pakistan
*Corresponding Author: Nida Tabassum Khan, Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Life Sciences and Informatics, Balochistan University of Information Technology Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Quetta, Pakistan, Tel: +92 3368164903 Email:


Isotopes were discovered by Frederick Soddy which are the different forms of the same elements that differs in their number of neutrons and also possess radioactive properties. These isotopes are relatively stable and could be used for numerous purposes.

Keywords: Neutrons; Radioactive; Atomic number; Atomic mass


Discovery of isotopes began when evidences were gathered to reveal that some element possess radioactive properties. In 1910, it was observed that certain elements transformed from their unstable state to a highly stable state following the emission of radiations that were found to be radioactive. Salts of thorium and uranium were identified as radioactive. Ionium was produced by uranium ores while mesothorium was yielded by thorium ores which gave these elements their recognized names. Since ionium when mixed with thorium could not be restored by chemicals routes. Likewise, mesothorium was found to be chemically similar to radium. So, it was concluded that ionium and mesothorium were different forms of their corresponding existing elements. Such elements were termed as “Isotopes” by Frederick Soddy who won a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his tremendous work [1]. Isotope is defined as the form of the same elements with different number of neutrons. It means they differs in their atomic masses but have similar atomic number therefore occupy the same position in the periodic table. He also revealed uranium and thorium decay into different isotopes of lead. Since lead was discovered from uranium and thorium rich ores with different atomic masses of 206.08 and 207.69 respectively [2-4]. There are numerous stable isotopes of different element with varying relative abundance given below in Table 1 [5-9].

Isotope Rel.Abundance Half-life (years)
Holmium-166m - 1,200
Berkelium-247 - 1,380
Radium-226 Trace 1,600
Molybdenum-93 - 4,000
Holmium-153 - 4,570
Curium-246 - 4,730
Carbon-14 Trace 5,730
Plutonium-240 - 6,563
Thorium-229 - 7,340
Americium-243 - 7,370
Curium-245 - 8,500
Curium-250 - 9,000
Tin-126 - 10,000
Iodine-129 - 15,700
Niobium-94 - 20,300
Plutonium-239 - 24,110
Proactinium-231 Trace 32,760
Lead-202 - 52,500
Lanthanium-137 - 60,000
Thorium-230 - 75,380
Nickel-59 - 76,000
Thorium-230 Trace 77,000
Calcium-41 - 103,000
Neptunium-236 - 154,000
Uranium-233 - 159,200
Rhenium-186m - 200,000
Technetium-99 - 211,000
Krypton-81 - 229,000
Uranium-234 Trace 245,500
Chlorine-36 - 301,000
Curium-248 - 340,000
Bismuth-208 - 368,000
Plutonium-242 - 373,300
Aluminum-26 - 717,000
Selenium-79 - 1,130,000
Iron-60 - 1,500,000
Beryllium-10 - 1,510,000
Zircon-93 - 1,530,000
Curium-247 - 1,560,000
Gadolinium-150 - 1,790,000
Neptunium-237 - 2,144,000
Cesium-135 - 2,300,000
Technetium-96 - 2,600,000
Dysprosium-154 - 3,000,000
Bismuth-310m - 3,040,000
Mietnerium-53 - 3,740,000
Technetium-98 - 4,200,000
Lead-205 - 15,300,000
Hafnium-182 - 9,000,000
Palladium-107 - 6,500,000
Curium-247 Abundant 15,600,000
Uranium-236 - 23,420,000
Niobium-92 - 34,700,000
Plutonium-244 - 80,800,000
Samarium-146 - 103,000,000
Uranium-236 - 234,200,000
Uranium-235 Rare 703,800,000
Potassium-40 Rare 1,280,000,000
Uranium-238 Abundant 4,468,000,000
Rubidium-87 Abundant 4,750,000,000
Thorium-232 Abundant 14,100,000,000
Lutetium-176 Rare 37,800,000,000
Rhenium-187 Abundant 43,500,000,000
Lanthanium-138 Rare 105,000,000,000
Samarium-147 Abundant 106,000,000,000
Platinum-190 Rare 650,000,000,000
Tellurium-123 Rare >1 × 1013
Osmium-184 Rare >5.6 ×1013
Gadolinium-152 Rare 1.08 × 1014
Tantalum-180m Rare >1.2 × 1015
Xenon-124 Rare >1.6 ×1014
Indium-115 Abundant 4.41 × 1014
Zinc-70 Rare >5 × 1014
Hafnium-174 Rare 2.0 ×1015
Osmium-186 Abundant 2.0 × 1015
Samarium-149 Abundant >2 × 1015
Neodymium-144 Abundant 2.29 × 1015
Samarium-148 Abundant 7 × 1015
Cadmium-113 Abundant 7.7 × 1015
Cerium-142 Abundant >5 × 1016
Tungsten-183 Abundant >1.1 × 1017
Vanadium-50 Rare 1.4 × 1017
Lead-204 Abundant 1.4 × 1017
Chromium-50 Abundant >1.8 × 1017
Tungsten-184 Abundant >3 × 1017
Calcium-48 Abundant >6.3 × 1018
Molybdenum-100 Abundant 1.0 × 1019
Neodynium-150 Abundant >1.1 × 1019
Zircon-96 Abundant >3.8 × 1019
Selenium-82 Abundant 1.1 × 1020
Tellurium-130 Abundant 7.9 × 1020
Xenon-136 Abundant >2.4 × 1021
Tellurium-128 Abundant 2.2 × 1024

Table 1: List of Isotopes.

These stable isotopes of different elements have a wide range of applications in different research areas some of their applications are stated below in Table 2 [10-20].

Isotopes Uses
Thorium-230 Coloring and fluorescent agent in glassware and colored glazes
Californium-252 Explosives detection, monitor soil moisture content and the moisture of materials stored in soils
Krypton-85 Monitors thickness of thin plastics, metal sheet, rubber, textiles and paper. Pollutant indicator. Used in indicator lights in different electronic appliances.
Carbon-14 Biological tracer for pharmacological studies.
Cesium-137 Chemotherapy of cancers and tumors, measurement of correct radiomedicine, monitoring and controlling fluid flow in pipelines etc.
Americum-241 smoke detectors, measure levels of toxic lead in dried paint samples
Tritium (H3) Geological mining, hydrology, used in luminous paint
Iron-55 Electroplating solutions analysis, detection of sulphur in air, metabolic pathway studies.
Cobalt-60 Surgical instruments sterilization, cancer treatment, food irradiation and radiography.
Thoriated Tungsten Used in welding, aircraft, petrochemical and food processing equipment industries.
Uranium-235 Nuclear fuel for power plants and naval nuclear propulsion
Cadmium-109 Analyzing metal alloys, scrap sorting
Sodium-24 Detection of oil leakages in industrial pipelines
Plutonium-238 Has powered more than 20 NASA spacecrafts since 1972
Nickel-63 Explosives detection, voltage regulators, current flow protectors in electronic devices.
Thallium-204 Detect and quantifies pollutant levels and measures the thickness of plastics, sheet metal, rubber, textiles, and paper.
Promethium-147 Used in electric blanket thermostats
Sulphur-35 Used in survey meters in case of emergencies
Curium-244 Geological mining to analyze material unearthed from pits and slurries from drilling operations
Polonium-210 Reduction of static charge in production of photographic film
Sulphur-35 Used in survey, cigarette manufacturing sensors and medical therapies.
Iridium-192 Used to test the integrity of pipeline welds, boilers and aircraft parts and in brachy therapy/tumor irradiation.
Radium-226 Makes lighting rods more effective.
Thorium-230 Used as coloring and fluorescence agents

Table 2: Applications of Isotopes.

Suppliers of radioisotopes

The main world isotope suppliers are as follows:

ANSTO in Australia,

BR-2 at Mol in Belgium,

Dimitrovgrad in Russia,

ETRR-2 in Egypt,

FRJ-2/ FRM-2 at Julich in Germany,

HFETR at Chengdu in China,

HFR at Petten in Netherlands,

IRE in Europe,

Isotope-NIIAR in Russia,

LWR-15 at Rez in Czech Republic,

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals in Ireland,

Maria in Poland,

MDS Nordion in Canada,

NRU at Chalk River in Canada,

NTP in South Africa,

OPAL in Australia

Osiris & Orphee at Saclay in France,

Safari in South Africa [21-24].


So, it was concluded that discovery of different isotopes of different elements could offer numerous biological and chemical applications used for the welfare of mankind.


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Citation: Tabassum Khan N (2017) Unearthing of Radioisotopes. Nat Prod Chem Res 5:285.

Copyright: © 2017 Tabassum Khan N. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.