What materials can create gamma rays?

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Offline thedoc

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What materials can create gamma rays?
« on: 05/06/2014 04:30:01 »
Lavanya Ravindran asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Are there any material which could create gamma rays in small amounts?
I don't have synchrotron or any instruments, but I need them for a purpose of experiment..

Regards
Lavanya
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 05/06/2014 04:30:01 by _system »

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Offline CliffordK

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Re: What materials can create gamma rays?
« Reply #1 on: 05/06/2014 06:40:58 »
I think most gamma rays (on Earth) are released by natural radioactive decay.  There is naturally a fair amount of background radiation, so just being on Earth exposes you to some gamma rays.  Flying in an airplane actually exposes you to more radiation.

Americium apparently is a weak gamma emitter (strong alpha emitter), and a small amount is in most smoke detectors, at least in the USA.