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45. The Quantum Mechanics of Alpha Decay

Determination of the relation between the half-lives and alpha-particle energies of the emanations of urananite. The energies of alpha particles emitted by the radioactive emanations of the mineral urananite and their decay products are measured with a solid state detector. Next, radon, milked from the urananite and adsorbed on charcoal, is extracted with liquid scintillator and counted in a scintillation counter.

The rates of the various alpha particle decay processes of radon and its daughter nuclei are then measured as functions of time, and the mean lives of the various nuclei are deduced from the data according to the Bateman equations. The relation between the measured mean lives and the decay energies is compared with the theoretical relation derived according to the quantum mechanical tunneling theory of alpha decay. Finally, the range-energy relation of alpha particles is determined from a measurement of the residual energies of alpha particles as a function of the thickness of air traversed.

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References (certificates required)

  1. R.W. Gurney, and E. W. Condon, "Wave Mechanics and Radioactive Disintegration", Nature, 122, 439, (1928)
  2. R. W. Gurney, and E. W. Condon, "Quantum Mechanics and Radioactive Disintegration", Phys. Rev., 33, 127-140, (1929)
  3. E. Bleuler and G.J. Goldsmith, Experimental Nucleonics, (New York, Rinehart, 1952), "Exp 19: Range and Energy Loss of Alpha Particles; Exp 23: Radiations of Cu(64) (Zn(65))", pp. 275-282, and 3341-354
  4. E. Sergè, Experimental Nuclear Physics, (New York, Wiley, 1953-1959), "Fundamental Principles of Particle Detection", Vol. I., Sec. 1.2, pp. 2-38
  5. E. Sergè, Experimental Nuclear Physics, (New York, Wiley, 1953-1959), "Passage of Heavy Particles through Matter", Vol. I., Sec. 2.1B-D, pp.231-252
  6. I. Perlman and F. Asaro, "Alpha Radioactivity", Annual Review of Nuclear Science, 4, 157-190, (1954)
  7. G.G. Manov, "Standardization of Radioactive Sources", Annual Review of Nuclear Science, 4, 51-68, (1954)
  8. T.P. Kohman and N. Saito, "Radioactivity in Geology and Cosmology", Annual Review of Nuclear Science, 4, 401-462, (1954)
  9. Ritson, D.M., Techniques in High Energy Physics, (New York, Interscience Publishers, 1961), "General Properties of Particles and Radiation", Chap. 1, p. 1-53
  10. R. Evans, Atomic Nucleus, (Malabar, Fla. : R.E. Krieger, 1982), "Beta-Ray Spectra", Chap. 17, pp. 536-566
  11. Knoll, Glenn, "Radiation Detection and Measurement, 3rd Edition, Chapter 11:
    Semiconductor Diode Detectors
    " - (Wiley 2000)
  12. P. Marcillac, N. Coron, G. Dambler, J. Leblanc, and J-P. Loalic,"Experimental detection of alpha-particles from the radioactive decay of natural bismuth", Nature, 422, pp. 876-878, (2003)
  13. S. Weinberg, The Discovery of Subatomic Particles, (Cambridge, U.K. ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003), 138

Selected Resources

  1. Table of Isotopes - Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory
  2. Table of Nuclides - Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute
  3. PIPS Alpha Particle Detector Model 45020AM
  4. Maestro software user manual
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