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Conversion of Electrons into Neutrons

  1. Dec 4, 2009 #1
    Hi Members,

    Can electrons be converted into neutrons? I read it somewhere and not sure about it!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 4, 2009 #2
    Maybe, but we sure don't know how. The standard model of particle physics does not allow for such a conversion. An electron is a fundamental particle; neutrons are composed of other fundamental particles, quarks.

    String theory might offer a conceptual approach but nobody knows if particles are REALLY strings, and nobody knows if the vibrational pattern of a string can be modified to "create" another matter particle....
  4. Dec 4, 2009 #3


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  5. Dec 4, 2009 #4
    I got it from Wikipedia while i was reading about Betatron....
  6. Dec 4, 2009 #5
    The closest any reaction gets to converting electrons into neutrons is atomic electron capture by a radioactive nucleus. In this reaction, a proton in the nucleus captures an atomic electron from the atomic K shell, converts to a neutron, and emits an anti-neutrino. See
    Bob S
  7. Dec 4, 2009 #6
    Little too complex for me at this time as i studied about shells long back(11 years ago). Please suggest further reading that will help me to understand the very basics of particle behavior.
  8. Dec 4, 2009 #7
    No. Absolutely not. This would violate the conservation of electric charge.
  9. Dec 5, 2009 #8


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    And violation of barion number.
  10. Dec 5, 2009 #9
    A neutron will naturally decay (~ 10 minute half-life) into a proton and an electron (and some neutrino). Reverse the process and viola!

    Or, if you have some electrons with energies > 17 MeV or so, if they hit stainless steel (for example), neutrons will be emitted. It's probably a case where the electron creates a shower of stuff, including gammas, the gamma is absorbed in one of the atoms of SS, and a neutron is emitted. This is why hospitals that do radiation therapy keep the high-voltage on the x-ray machines below 17 MeV.

    The neutrons are more dangerous than the x-rays since they cannot be easily shielded and the biological damage from them is higher than for photons.
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