Citation, DOI & article data
Radioactivity, also known as radioactive decay, describes the process of spontaneous breakdown of unstable (or radioactive) nuclides, with the formation of daughter nuclei and release of subatomic particles and/or gamma radiation. A single decay (a.k.a. disintegration) refers to the degradation of one nuclide into another.
Modes of decay
- alpha decay
- beta decay
- electron capture
- spontaneous fission
- isomeric transition
Radioactive decay is a stochastic process, i.e. it is probabilistic, and it is impossible to foresee which specific nuclei will decay. Nevertheless, it can be predicted with a high degree of confidence the proportion of any sample of radioactive atoms that will decay in a specified period of time.
History and etymology
Henri Becquerel (1852-1908) discovered radioactivity in 1896 when studying potassium uranyl sulfate 2. Further early advances were made by wife and husband, Marie Skłodowska Curie (1867-1934) and Pierre Curie (1859–1906), who were co-awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics with Becquerel in 1903. It was Marie Curie who coined the term radioactivity 4.
- 1. William Alexander Newman Dorland. Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary. (2007) ISBN: 9781416023647 - Google Books
- 2. Gopal B. Saha. Physics and Radiobiology of Nuclear Medicine. (2010) ISBN: 9780387362816 - Google Books
- 3. R. F. Farr, P. J. Allisy-Roberts. Physics for Medical Imaging. (1997) ISBN: 9780702017704 - Google Books
- 4. Mould R. Pierre Curie, 1859–1906. Current Oncology. 2007;14(2):74-82. doi:10.3747/co.2007.110 - Pubmed