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Since stable isotopes do not decay, they do not produce radiation or its associated health risks.Scientists performing environmental and ecological experiments use stable isotopes of oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen and carbon.Isotopes are alternative “versions” of elements that have a different atomic mass but the same atomic number.The atomic number of an element is simply the number of protons present in its atom, while atomic mass depends on how many neutrons it has.

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The method was developed in the late 1940s at the University of Chicago by Willard Libby, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work in 1960.Both types see wide use in several industries and fields of study.Stable isotopes have a stable proton-neutron combination and do not display any sign of decay.Radioactive isotopes have an unstable combination of protons and neutrons.These isotopes decay, emitting radiation that includes alpha, beta and gamma rays.

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