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Nuclear transformations and radioactive emissions: Part I—primary transformation pathways of unstable nuclei

  • Frank RöschEmail author
Lecture Text


To understand the origin and character of individual radioactive emissions accompanying nuclear transformation processes, it is essential to understand what an unstable nucleus is, what its motivation is to transform, and how the nucleus selects the best way to transform. The following chapter represents part I of a series of two articles. It introduces the composition of stable atomic nuclei, the meaning of “isotopes”, the discrepancy between the mass of the nucleus and the sum of the mass of the nucleons it is composed of (the “mass defect”), and the parameter of “mean nucleon binding energy”. It is the fate of those unstable nuclei, that they transform to more stable ones. Part I will focus on the “primary” pathways of those transformations, i.e., those, where the nucleon composition of an unstable nucleus is modified to gain mean nucleon binding energy. Those transformation processes are the origin of certain radioactive emissions, and part I will discuss those originating from the primary transformation pathways, i.e., mainly β- and α-emissions.


Nuclear transformation Unstable nuclei Primary transformation β-Processes α-Emission 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Nuclear ChemistryJohannes Gutenberg-University MainzMainzGermany

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