Beta decay

Beta decay is a type of radioactive decay that occurs when a nucleus emits a beta particle. A beta particle can be either an electron or a positron, depending on the type of beta decay.

Beta decay occurs when a nucleus has too many or too few neutrons relative to its protons, resulting in an unstable nucleus. In beta-minus decay, a neutron in the nucleus is converted into a proton, emitting an electron and an antineutrino:

n → p + e- + ν-bar

In beta-plus decay, a proton in the nucleus is converted into a neutron, emitting a positron and a neutrino:

p → n + e+ + ν

In both types of beta decay, the total number of protons and neutrons in the nucleus remains the same, but the atomic number changes. Beta decay is an important process in nuclear physics and has many applications in medicine, such as in positron emission tomography (PET) scans.

Beta decay was first observed in the early 20th century by Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Soddy, who were investigating the phenomenon of radioactivity. The discovery of beta decay, along with alpha and gamma decay, helped to lay the foundations of nuclear physics and led to the development of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Read more about Learning Management System.