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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. Amen. - Ephesians 1:3

The Joy of a Teacher is the Success of his Students. - Samuel Dominic Chukwuemeka

Exponential Decay

Samdom For Peace

I greet you this day,
First: read the notes. Second: view the videos. Third: solve the questions/solved examples. Fourth: check your solutions with my thoroughly-explained solutions. Fifth: check your answers with the calculators as applicable.

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Samuel Dominic Chukwuemeka (Samdom For Peace) B.Eng., A.A.T, M.Ed., M.S

Objectives

Students will:

(1.) Discuss exponential decay.

(2.) Discuss real-world applications of exponential decay.

(3.) Solve applied problems in exponential decay.



Formulas

(1.) $ N_r = N_ie^{-\lambda t} $


(2.) $ N_r = \dfrac{N_i}{2^p} $


(3.) $ p = \dfrac{t}{T_{half}} $


(4.) $ N_i = N_r + N_{td} $


(5.) $ t = \dfrac{\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{-\lambda} = \dfrac{-\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{\lambda} $


(6.) $ \lambda = \dfrac{\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{-t} = \dfrac{-\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{t} $


(7.) $ T_{half} = \dfrac{t\ln 2}{-\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}} = \dfrac{-t\ln 2}{\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}} $


(8.) $ t =\dfrac{ T_{half}\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{-\ln 2} = \dfrac{-T_{half}\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{\ln 2} $


(9.) $ T_{half} = \dfrac{\ln 2}{\lambda} $


(10.) $ \lambda = \dfrac{\ln 2}{T_{half}} $


(11.) $ N_i = \dfrac{N_r}{e^{-\lambda t}} $


(12.) $ N_i = \dfrac{N_r}{e^{\dfrac{-t\ln 2}{T_{half}}}} $


(13.) $ N_i = N_r * 2^p $


(14.) $N_i = N_r * 2$$\dfrac{t}{T_{half}}$



Definitions

Half-life is defined as the time taken for half the initial amount of a radioactive substance to decay.

Decay constant or Disintegration constant is defined as the ratio of the rate of radioactive nuclear decay to the amount of radioactive nuclei remaining in the radioactive substance.

Solved Examples

For ACT Students
The ACT is a timed exam...$60$ questions for $60$ minutes
This implies that you have to solve each question in one minute.
Some questions will typically take less than a minute a solve.
Some questions will typically take more than a minute to solve.
The goal is to maximize your time. You use the time saved on those questions you solved in less than a minute, to solve the questions that will take more than a minute.
So, you should try to solve each question correctly and timely.
So, it is not just solving a question correctly, but solving it correctly on time.
Please ensure you attempt all ACT questions.
There is no "negative" penalty for any wrong answer.

Solve each question using at least two methods where applicable.
Show all work.

(1.) A radioactive element has a half-life of $20$ years.
If there are $2500mg$ of the element initially, how much of the element:
(a.) will remain after $40$ years?
(b.) will have decayed after $40$ years?


First Method - First Formula $ N_r = N_ie^{-\lambda t} \\[3ex] T_{half} = 20\: years \\[2ex] t = 40\: years \\[2ex] N_i = 2500mg \\[2ex] \lambda = \dfrac{\ln 2}{T_{half}} \\[3ex] \lambda = \dfrac{\ln 2}{20} \\[3ex] -\lambda t = -\dfrac{\ln 2}{20} * 40 = -2\ln 2 \\[3ex] -2\ln 2 = \ln {2^{-2}} ...Law\: 5...Log \\[3ex] {2^{-2}} = \dfrac{1}{2^2} ...Law\: 6...Exp \\[3ex] {2^{-2}} = \dfrac{1}{4} \\[3ex] -2\ln 2 = \ln {\dfrac{1}{4}} \\[3ex] e^{-2\ln 2} = e^{\ln {\dfrac{1}{4}}} \\[3ex] e^{\ln \left({\dfrac{1}{4}}\right)} = \dfrac{1}{4} ...Law\: 7...Log \\[5ex] \Rightarrow N_r = 2500 * \dfrac{1}{4} \\[3ex] N_r = 625mg \\[3ex] N_i = N_r + N_{td} \\[3ex] N_{td} = N_i - N_r \\[3ex] N_{td} = 2500 - 625 \\[3ex] N_{td} = 1875mg $
Second Method - Second Formula $ N_r = \dfrac{N_i}{2^p} \\[3ex] p = \dfrac{t}{T_{half}} \\[3ex] T_{half} = 20\: years \\[2ex] t = 40\: years \\[2ex] N_i = 2500mg \\[2ex] p = \dfrac{40}{20} \\[3ex] p = 2 \\[3ex] \Rightarrow N_r = \dfrac{2500}{2^2} \\[3ex] N_r = \dfrac{2500}{4} \\[3ex] N_r = 625mg \\[3ex] N_i = N_r + N_{td} \\[3ex] N_{td} = N_i - N_r \\[3ex] N_{td} = 2500 - 625 \\[3ex] N_{td} = 1875mg $


(2.) A $1200 kg$ of a radioactive element kept decaying for $50$ years until $300 kg$ of the element remained.
What is the half-life of the element?


$ T_{half} = \dfrac{-t\ln 2}{\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}} \\[7ex] N_i = 1200kg \\[2ex] N_r = 300 kg \\[2ex] t = 50\: years \\[2ex] T_{half} = \dfrac{-50 * \ln 2}{\ln{\left(\dfrac{300}{1200}\right)}} \\[7ex] T_{half} = \dfrac{-50 * 0.693147181}{\ln{(0.25)}} \\[5ex] T_{half} = \dfrac{-34.65735903}{-1.386294361} \\[5ex] T_{half} = 25\: years $


(3.) Sodium-24 is used to locate obstructions in blood flow.
It has a half-life of $15\: hours$.
If a procedure needs $0.75g$ and is scheduled to take place in $2\: days$, what is the minimum amount of sodium-24 required now?
Round your answer to the nearest tenth.


First Method - First Formula $ N_i = \dfrac{N_r}{e^{\dfrac{-t\ln 2}{T_{half}}}} \\[7ex] T_{half} = 15\: hours \\[2ex] t = 2\: days = 2 * 24 = 48\: hours \\[2ex] N_r = 0.75g \\[2ex] N_i = \dfrac{0.75}{e^{\dfrac{-48 * \ln 2}{15}}} \\[7ex] N_i = \dfrac{0.75}{e^{\dfrac{-33.27106467}{15}}} \\[7ex] N_i = \dfrac{0.75}{e^{-2.218070978}} \\[7ex] N_i = \dfrac{0.75}{0.108818820} \\[7ex] N_i = 6.89219013 \\[2ex] N_{i} = 6.9g $
Second Method - Second Formula
$N_i = N_r * 2$$\dfrac{t}{T_{half}}$
$ T_{half} = 15\: hours \\[2ex] t = 2\: days = 2 * 24 = 48\: hours \\[2ex] N_r = 0.75g $
$N_i = 0.75 * 2$$\dfrac{48}{15}$

$ N_i = 0.75 * 2^{3.2} \\[2ex] N_i = 0.75 * 9.18958684 \\[2ex] N_i = 6.89219013 \\[2ex] N_{i} = 6.9g $


(4.) $175 g$ of a $200 g$ radioactive element decayed in $87$ hours.
What is the half-life of the element?


$ T_{half} = \dfrac{-t\ln 2}{\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}} \\[7ex] N_i = 200 g \\[2ex] N_{td} = 175 g \\[2ex] N_i = N_r + N_{td} \\[2ex] N_r = N_i - N_{td} \\[2ex] N_r = 200 - 175 = 25 g \\[2ex] t = 87\: hours \\[2ex] T_{half} = \dfrac{-87 * \ln 2}{\ln{\left(\dfrac{25}{200}\right)}} \\[7ex] T_{half} = \dfrac{-87 * 0.693147181}{\ln{(0.125)}} \\[5ex] T_{half} = \dfrac{-60.30380471}{-2.079441542} \\[5ex] T_{half} = 29\: hours $


(5.) Americium-241 is a vital component of household smoke detectors.
It has a half-life of $432$ years.
How many years will it take a $10 g$ mass of Americium-241 to decay to $2.7 g$?
Round your answer to the nearest integer.


$ t = \dfrac{-T_{half}\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{\ln 2} \\[7ex] T_{half} = 432\: years \\[2ex] N_i = 10 g \\[2ex] N_r = 2.7 g \\[2ex] t = \dfrac{-432 * \ln{\left(\dfrac{2.7}{10}\right)}}{\ln 2} \\[7ex] t = \dfrac{-432 * \ln{(0.27)}}{0.693147181} \\[7ex] t = \dfrac{-432 * -1.30933332}{0.693147181} \\[5ex] t = \dfrac{565.6319942}{0.693147181} \\[5ex] t = 816.0344725 \\[2ex] t = 816\: years $


(6.) Carbon-14 is a natural radioactive carbon isotope in living organisms.
It is constantly renewed as the organism lives, and begins to decay when the organism dies.
If the half-life of carbon-14 is $5730$ years, how old is a mommy having only $70\%$ of the normal amount of carbon-14?


$ t = \dfrac{-T_{half}\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{\ln 2} \\[7ex] T_{half} = 5730\: years \\[2ex] N_i = 100\% = 1 \\[2ex] N_r = 70\% = 0.7 \\[2ex] t = \dfrac{-5730 * \ln{\left(\dfrac{0.7}{1}\right)}}{\ln 2} \\[7ex] t = \dfrac{-5730 * \ln{(0.7)}}{0.693147181} \\[7ex] t = \dfrac{-5730 * -0.356674944}{0.693147181} \\[5ex] t = \dfrac{2043.747429}{0.693147181} \\[5ex] t = 2948.504278 \\[2ex] t = 2949\: years\: old $


(7.) Carbon-14 is a natural radioactive carbon isotope in living organisms.
It is constantly renewed as the organism lives, and begins to decay when the organism dies.
Assume the half-life of carbon-14 is $5750$ years.
Gregory, a paleontologist determined that the bones from a mastodon had lost $83.4\%$ of their carbon-14.
How old were the bones at the time they were discovered?


$ t = \dfrac{-T_{half}\ln{\left(\dfrac{N_r}{N_i}\right)}}{\ln 2} \\[7ex] T_{half} = 5750\: years \\[2ex] N_i = 100\% = 1 \\[2ex] N_{td} = 83.4\% = 0.834 \\[2ex] N_i = N_r + N_{td} \\[2ex] N_r = N_i - N_{td} \\[2ex] N_r = 1 - 0.834 = 0.166 \\[2ex] t = \dfrac{-5750 * \ln{\left(\dfrac{0.166}{1}\right)}}{\ln 2} \\[7ex] t = \dfrac{-5750 * \ln{(0.166)}}{0.693147181} \\[7ex] t = \dfrac{-5750 * -1.795767491}{0.693147181} \\[5ex] t = \dfrac{10325.66307}{0.693147181} \\[5ex] t = 14896.7829 \\[2ex] t = 14897\: years\: old $


(8.) JAMB The particle emitted when $^{39}_{19}K$ decays to $^{39}_{19}K$ is
A. electron
B. beta
C. alpha
D. gamma


$ \gamma = ^{0}_{0}\gamma \\[3ex] 39 - 0 = 39 \\[3ex] 19 - 0 = 19 \\[3ex] ^{39}_{19}K - ^{0}_{0}\gamma = ^{39}_{19}K $


(9.) JAMB The percentage of the original nuclei of a sample of a radioactive substance left after $5$ half-lives is

$ A.\:\: 8\% \\[3ex] B.\:\: 5\% \\[3ex] C.\:\: 3\% \\[3ex] D.\:\: 1\% $


$ N_i = 100\% \\[3ex] After\:\: 1 \:\:half-life,\:\: \dfrac{1}{2} * 100\% = 50\% \:\:decays,\:\: 100 - 50 = 50\% \:\:remain \\[5ex] After\:\: 2 \:\:half-lives,\:\: \dfrac{1}{2} * 50\% = 25\% \:\:decays,\:\: 50 - 25 = 25\% \:\:remain \\[5ex] After\:\: 3 \:\:half-lives,\:\: \dfrac{1}{2} * 25\% = 12.5\% \:\:decays,\:\: 25 - 12.5 = 12.5\% \:\:remain \\[5ex] After\:\: 4 \:\:half-lives,\:\: \dfrac{1}{2} * 12.5\% = 6.25\% \:\:decays,\:\: 12.5 - 6.25 = 6.25\% \:\:remain \\[5ex] After\:\: 5 \:\:half-lives,\:\: \dfrac{1}{2} * 6.25\% = 3.125\% \:\:decays,\:\: 6.25 - 3.125 = 3.125\% \:\:remain \\[5ex] 3.125\% \approx 3\% $


(10.) JAMB The process of energy production in the sun is
A. radioactive decay
B. electron collision
C. Nuclear fission
D. Nuclear fusion


The process of energy production in the sun is the nuclear fusion of the hydrogen atoms in the sun.


(11.) JAMB The particle that is responsible for nuclear fission in a nuclear reactor is
A. neutron
B. proton
C. electron
D. photon


The particle that is responsible for nuclear fission in a nuclear reactor is the neutron.


(12.) JAMB The count rate of a radioactive material is $800$ count/min.
If the half-life of the material is $4$ days, what would be the count rate $16$ days later?

$ A.\:\: 200 \:\:count/min \\[3ex] B.\:\: 100 \:\:count/min \\[3ex] C.\:\: 50 \:\:count/min \\[3ex] D.\:\: 25 \:\:count/min $


$ N_i = 800 \:\:count/min \\[3ex] T_{half} = 4 \:\:days \\[3ex] t = 16 \:\:days \\[3ex] N_r = ? \\[3ex] p = \dfrac{t}{T_{half}} = \dfrac{16}{4} = 4 \\[5ex] N_r = \dfrac{N_i}{2^p} \\[5ex] N_r = \dfrac{800}{2^4} = \dfrac{800}{16} = 50 \:\:count/min $

(13.) JAMB A radioisotope has a decay constant of $10^{-7}s^{-1}$.
The average life of the radioisotope is

$ A.\:\: 6.93 * 10^8s \\[3ex] B.\:\: 1.00 * 10^{-7}s \\[3ex] C.\:\: 1.00 * 10^7s \\[3ex] D.\:\: 6.93 * 10^7s $


The average life of the radioisotope is the half-life
JAMB exam does not allow the use of a calculator.
It is important to know that $\ln 2 \approx 0.693$

$ \lambda = 10^{-7}s{-1} \\[3ex] T_{half} = \dfrac{\ln 2}{\lambda} = \dfrac{0.693}{10^{-7}} = 0.693 * \dfrac{1}{10^{-7}} \\[5ex] T_{half} = 0.693 * 10^7 \\[3ex] T_{half} = 6.93 * 10^{-1} * 10^7 \\[3ex] T_{half} = 6.93 * 10^{-1 + 7} \\[3ex] T_{half} = 6.93 * 10^6s $

Exponential Decay / Half-Life Calculators

Make sure the applicable units are the same

Given: initial amount, half-life, time

To Find: other details

Given: initial amount, remaining amount, time

To Find: other details

Given: remaining amount, half-life, time

To Find: other details

Given: initial amount, remaining amount, half-life

To Find: other details


References

Chukwuemeka, S.D (2016, April 30). Samuel Chukwuemeka Tutorials - Math, Science, and Technology. Retrieved from https://www.samuelchukwuemeka.com

Bittinger, M. L., Beecher, J. A., Ellenbogen, D. J., & Penna, J. A. (2017). Algebra and Trigonometry: Graphs and Models ($6^{th}$ ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Sullivan, M., & Sullivan, M. (2017). Algebra & Trigonometry ($7^{th}$ ed.). Boston: Pearson.

CrackACT. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.crackact.com/act-downloads/

VAST LEARNERS. (n.d). Retrieved from https://www.vastlearners.com/free-jamb-past-questions/