What type of radioactive decay is involved in carbon dating

Posted by / 17-Apr-2020 11:16

What type of radioactive decay is involved in carbon dating

Electron capture occurs when one of the inner electrons in an atom is captured by the atom’s nucleus.

For example, potassium-40 undergoes electron capture: Electron capture occurs when an inner shell electron combines with a proton and is converted into a neutron.

Following the somewhat serendipitous discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel, many prominent scientists began to investigate this new, intriguing phenomenon.

Among them were Marie Curie (the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in different sciences—chemistry and physics), who was the first to coin the term “radioactivity,” and Ernest Rutherford (of gold foil experiment fame), who investigated and named three of the most common types of radiation.

Click here to learn about cloud chambers and to view an interesting Cloud Chamber Demonstration from the Jefferson Lab.

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.

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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