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Proton/neutron to electron?

  1. Feb 4, 2007 #1
    Is it possible to cause a neutron to become an electron? I know that a free neutron decays into a proton and an electron, but is it possible to cause this change to occur, so that it can happen at a faster rate? Also, is it possible to change a proton into and electron (obviously something else must be made along with the electron to conserve charge, lepton number etc)?

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2007 #2
    Neutrons are made of 3 quarks as are protons, but different quarks. The neutron is udd and the proton uud (u = up quark, d = down quark). Via a quantum process a down quark turns into an up quark and a [tex]W^{-}[/tex] vector boson. Therefore udd -> uud, a proton. The [tex]W^{-}[/tex] then decays into an electron and an antineutrino (thus conserving lepton number).

  4. Feb 6, 2007 #3

    Meir Achuz

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    The free neutron decays into a proton, electron and antineutrino in about 15 minutes. Inside some nuclei, the neutron can decay faster because more energy is released. Inside other nuclei (that have too many protons for stability), a proton can decay into a neutron, positron, and neutrino, with the nucleus providing the necessary energy.
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