Radioactive Decay

  • Gopal B. Saha


Approximately 3000 nuclides have been discovered thus far, and most are unstable. Unstable nuclei decay by spontaneous fission, α-particle, β-particle, or γ-ray emission, or electron capture in order to achieve stability. The stability of a nuclide is governed by the structural arrangement and binding energy of the nucleons in the nucleus. One criterion of stability is the neutron-to-proton ratio (N/Z) of the stable nuclides; the radionuclides decay to achieve the N/Z of the nearest possible stable nuclide. Radioactive decay by particle emission or electron capture changes the atomic number of the radionuclide, whereas decay by γ-ray emission does not.


Disintegration Rate Electron Capture Shell Electron Particle Emission Internal Conversion 
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Suggested Reading

  1. Chase GD, Rabinowitz JL. Principles of Radioisotope Methodology. 3rd ed. Minneapolis: Burgess; 1970.Google Scholar
  2. Friedlander G, Kennedy JW, Miller JM. Nuclear and Radiochemistry. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley; 1981.Google Scholar
  3. Sorensen JA, Phelps ME. Physics in Nuclear Medicine. 2nd ed. New York: Grune & Stratton; 1987.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gopal B. Saha
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nuclear MedicineThe Cleveland Clinic FoundationClevelandUSA

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