Nuclear Decay

What is Nuclear Decay?


Nuclear decay, also known as radioactive decay, describes the process wherein an atom is transmutated into a different element. There are five different types of nuclear decay, and they are detailed in this section.

Alpha Particle


Circled in the image above is the alpha particle. The equation above details the change that takes place during alpha decay. It is important to memorize the alpha particle, as well as the other particles detailed on this page.

Neutron Particle


This equation above takes fluorine and outputs an isotope of that same element. This is due to the neutron particle that is circled above.

Positron Particle


Above is an example of positron emission. The transition from boron to carbon occurs due to the positron particle, which is circled above.

Beta/Electron Particle


In the picture above, a reaction is shown. What is circled is the beta particle, which is the key piece of the equation. The beta particle is also known as the electron particle. 

Half life

Half life is a very important idea in chemistry. This formula considers the time it takes for a substance's quantity to be halved. It is important that all students memorize the formula to the right. Under the large umbrella of half life problems, there are a few different ways that these problems can be asked. 

1. One way is that the final amount of substance, the initial amount of substance, and the time can be given. Using the properties of logs, the half life (k) can be calculated.