# Homework Help: Beta decay of deuterium and triterium

1. Feb 3, 2013

### pbonnie

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
Explain why deuterium cannot undergo beta decay or produce a stable nucleus, while tritium can.

2. Relevant equations
n/a

3. The attempt at a solution
There was nothing in the lesson that really explained this, and the only reason I can find online is because deuterium is a stable isotope of hydrogen so it does not decay. I'm guessing that there is more to this, but I'm not sure what that would be.

2. Feb 3, 2013

### haruspex

Consider what the resulting nucleus could consist of. Tritium can convert N->P making He-3.

3. Feb 3, 2013

### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Assuming the neutron in a deuteron did undergo beta decay, what are the resulting products? What is the combined (rest) mass of the products? How does that mass compare with the rest mass of the deuteron.

One would use a similar approach in following haruspex's suggestion.

4. Feb 3, 2013

### pbonnie

Thank you both.
So because the resulting atom would consist of 2 protons and 0 neutrons it would be too unstable?

5. Feb 3, 2013

### haruspex

As Astronuc says, you should look at the energy balance. Also, as I understand it, Beta decay is of two types; with the other type you'd get two neutrons and no protons.