C-11, also known as Carbon-11, is a radioactive isotope of the chemical element carbon. It is denoted by the symbol ^11C and consists of six protons and five neutrons, giving it a total atomic mass of 11. Because it is a radioactive isotope, C-11 undergoes a process called radioactive decay, where it spontaneously emits radiation to attain a more stable state.
Carbon-11 is commonly used in medical research and diagnostic applications due to its short half-life of approximately 20 minutes. This property allows for the safe administration of small doses of C-11 to patients without causing prolonged exposure to radiation. The radiolabeled C-11 atoms can be attached to various compounds or molecules to track their behavior within the body. For instance, C-11 can be used to label glucose molecules, enabling researchers to study glucose metabolism and distribution in different tissues of the body.
The isotopic properties of C-11 make it highly advantageous for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, an advanced medical imaging technique. PET scans using C-11 can provide valuable information about cellular metabolism, neurochemistry, and blood flow, aiding in the diagnosis and monitoring of various diseases, including cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and cardiovascular conditions.
In summary, C-11 is a radioactive isotope of carbon that is extensively used in medical research and diagnostic imaging. Its short half-life and ability to be attached to different molecules make it a valuable tool for tracking and studying various biological processes within the body.