MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Is stopping radioactive decay possible?

Date: Wed Oct 25 13:23:02 2000
Posted By: Michael Kay, Staff, Chem, Haz. Mat Mgmt, Health Physics, Nuclear Science, AMBRY, Inc
Area of science: Physics
ID: 972439102.Ph

Generally, the answer is no; it is not possible to stop radioactive decay. 
This is because radioactive decay occurs only when it is energetically 
favorable and requires no outside input of energy. 

There is one type of radioactive decay, electron capture decay, where it 
is possible to slow down the rate of decay. Electron capture decay occurs 
when an orbital electron is captured by the nucleus resulting in the 
effective change of a proton to a neutron. This reduces the Atomic Number 
by 1 but does not affect the atomic mass. Because it is possible to change 
the amount of energy required to remove an electron, it is possible to 
affect the probability of the electron being captured. The largest 
difference observed was between an electron in a metal and a fluoride 
compound. The difference in the observed half life was approximately 10%. 
It would have been much greater at zero degrees Kelvin. 

I have just moved, and my reference books are buried in boxes. If you are 
interested in reading about the modes of decay and half life, I recommend 
Nuclear and Radiochemistry by Friedlander, Kennedy, Macias, and Miller.

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