Alpha and proton decay

  1. All nuclei with A > 210 are alpha emitters, yet very few emit protons spontaneously.
    Yet both decays lower the Coulomb energy of the nucleus. Why is
    proton decay not more common?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Vanadium 50

    Vanadium 50 17,740
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    Look at the binding energy curve.
     
  4. mathman

    mathman 6,512
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    Some of these nuclei undergo beta decay, not alpha.
     
  5. The binding energy of alpha particles means more energy available to make the decay happen -- it happens by quantum-mechanical tunneling.

    I could dig up the alpha decay rate if anyone is interested - it also works for protons.
     
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