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Half-life of radioactive isotopes near 0 K.

  1. Jun 2, 2012 #1
    Would the observed half-life of a sample of a radioactive isotope (eg. iodine 131) be different from the nominal half-life when it is cooled down to a temperature near absolute zero.

    Have there been any experiments conducted to examine this question?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2012 #2
    Welcome to PF!

    Temperature does not have any effect on radioactive half-life. Remember that temperature is the average atomic motion. Decay is mediated by the weak nuclear force, which has no relation to the movement of the particle.
  4. Jun 3, 2012 #3
    Fair enough.

    So my follow up question is does the half-life of a particular isotope vary in accordance with any other physical property such as electric field - excepting weak nuclear force which you have mentioned.
  5. Jun 3, 2012 #4


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    Electric fields are not strong enough to have an impact - in addition, if the nucleus sees them, it just accelerates. And electric field gradients are even smaller, when applied to the size of a nucleus.

    Three ways to influence nuclear transitions:
    - Electron capture needs electrons, and depends on the presence of electrons nearby. There, you can alter the speed of the process.
    - In a similar way, you could shoot a lot of neutrinos and stimulate proton<->neutron transformation. However, I do not think this would give a measurable effect.
    - Pressure similar to the conditions in white dwarfs or neutron stars. This allows to get particles close enough to have a significant influence.
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