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Lesson 7, Topic 3
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This is a process where the nuclei of a radioactive element undergoes a series of disintegration to become stable

During decay process, the total mass number before and after decay must remain constant

For alpha decay, the parent element loses a helium atom, where the mass number decreases by 4 and the atomic number by 2

$$\scriptsize _{A} ^{Z} \textrm {X}\; \rightarrow \; _{A – 4} ^{Z – 2} \textrm {X} \; + \; _{2} ^{4} \textrm {He} + energy$$

$$\scriptsize _{226} ^{86} \textrm {Ra}\; \rightarrow \; _{222} ^{84} \textrm {Ra} \; + \; _{2} ^{4} \textrm {He} + energy$$

For Î² -decay,

The atomic number of new element decreases by 1 while the mass number remains unchanged

$$\scriptsize _{A} ^{Z} \textrm {X}\; \rightarrow \; _{A } ^{Z + 1} \textrm {Y} \; + \; _{-1} ^{0} \textrm {Î²} + energy$$

$$\scriptsize _{235} ^{92} \textrm {U}\; \rightarrow \; _{235} ^{93} \textrm {U}\; + \; _{-1} ^{0} \textrm {Î²} + energy$$

For Î³ rays, no new element is produced; it is the energy state of the nuclide that changes

$$\scriptsize _{A} ^{Z} \textrm {X} \; \rightarrow \; _{A} ^{Z} \textrm {X} \; + \; energy$$

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