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Beta decay

  1. Oct 30, 2009 #1
    Hi all,

    when an atom goes through a beta decay, say 32 phosphorus. The final state is then 16 protons, 16 neutrons, and 15 electrons. This seems to be an ion of sulfur.

    My question is, does the atom remain in a positively charged state? or does it ionize it suuroundings and captures an additional electron?

    Best

    Beta man
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    For all eternity? No.
     
  4. Oct 30, 2009 #3
    So for how long?

    In principle if I have a crystal of 32 phsophor in a large vaccum tube, with walls that can only absorb electrons. Then after few atom decays into sulfur the crystal will become positivly charge.

    Will it stay like this for infinite time? since there is no gas to ionize.

    Will this inhibit the decay of all the crystal?

    Best,

    Beta man
     
  5. Oct 30, 2009 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    It stays that way until it finds an electron to capture. In ordinary materials, that happens quickly.
     
  6. Oct 30, 2009 #5

    jtbell

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    Eventually the crystal gains enough net positive charge that it can attract the emitted electrons back before they reach the walls of the tube. These electrons combine with (some of) the sulfur ions produced by the decay, to yield neutral sulfur atoms.
     
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