What type of radioactive decay is involved in carbon dating

The beta particle (electron) emitted is from the atomic nucleus and is not one of the electrons surrounding the nucleus. Emission of an electron does not change the mass number of the nuclide but does increase the number of its protons and decrease the number of its neutrons.Consequently, the n:p ratio is decreased, and the daughter nuclide lies closer to the band of stability than did the parent nuclide.Although the radioactive decay of a nucleus is too small to see with the naked eye, we can indirectly view radioactive decay in an environment called a cloud chamber.Click here to learn about cloud chambers and to view an interesting Cloud Chamber Demonstration from the Jefferson Lab.

Like positron emission, electron capture occurs for “proton-rich” nuclei that lie below the band of stability.

Gamma emission (γ emission) is observed when a nuclide is formed in an excited state and then decays to its ground state with the emission of a γ ray, a quantum of high-energy electromagnetic radiation.

The presence of a nucleus in an excited state is often indicated by an asterisk (*).

Ernest Rutherford’s experiments involving the interaction of radiation with a magnetic or electric field (Figure 2) helped him determine that one type of radiation consisted of positively charged and relatively massive α particles; a second type was made up of negatively charged and much less massive β particles; and a third was uncharged electromagnetic waves, γ rays.

We now know that α particles are high-energy helium nuclei, β particles are high-energy electrons, and γ radiation compose high-energy electromagnetic radiation.

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