Difference Between Alpha and Beta Decay
Alpha vs Beta Decay
Here are the different characteristics of Alpha and Beta decay:
Alpha decay is a radioactive decay wherein an atomic nucleus emits an alpha particle and transforms or decays into an atom with a mass number 4 less and atomic number 2 less. It happens when a nucleus with too many protons will decay and produce an alpha particle with two neutrons and two protons.
It is the most common cluster decay where the parent atom ejects a collection of nucleons that leaves a defined product behind. It combines extremely high binding energy and a relatively small mass of helium-4 product nucleus or alpha particle.
It is governed by the interplay between the nuclear force and the electromagnetic force. It occurs in the heaviest nuclides and has a kinetic energy of 5 MeV and a speed of 15,000km/s.
Alpha particles are heavy, can be stopped by a sheet of paper or aluminum, and lose their energy when they interact with other atoms and their forward motion stops within a few centimeters of air. Alpha emissions produce an element two places to the left of the periodic table.
Alpha decay of underground mineral deposits that contains uranium or thorium produces helium. It was first described in 1899 and in 1907 was identified as He2+ions.
The theory of alpha decay was solved through tunneling. An alpha particle trapped in a nucleus tunnels through it and appears on the other side of the nucleus.
Alpha decay is used in the production of smoke detectors. It is also a safe power source for radioisotope thermoelectric generators used for space probes and artificial heart pacemakers. It can be shielded more easily against other forms of radioactive decay.
Beta decay is a radioactive decay wherein a beta particle like an electron (beta minus) or positron (beta plus) is emitted. It occurs when a nucleus with too many neutrons will decay and turn into an electron, proton, and anti neutrino. The electron which is produced is called beta particle and the process is called beta decay.
It can penetrate several millimeters of aluminum and beta emissions from one element can produce another element one place to the right in the periodic table.
1. Alpha decay happens when alpha particles are produced when a nucleus with too many protons will decay and produce an alpha particle with two neutrons and two protons while Beta decay occurs when beta particles are produced when a nucleus with too many neutrons will decay and turn into an electron, proton, and anti neutrino.
2. The alpha particles in alpha decay are heavy and can be stopped with a sheet of paper or aluminum while beta particles in beta decay can penetrate into several millimeters of aluminum.
3. Alpha decay emissions produce an element two places to the left of the periodic table while beta emissions from one element can produce another element one place to the right in the periodic table.
4. In alpha decay, the nucleus disintegrates while in beta decay the nucleus is converted into a proton and releases an electron.
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