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Proton emission

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The decay of a proton rich nucleus A populates


excited states of a daughter nucleus B by β+ emission
or electron capture (EC). Those excited states that lie
below the separation energy for protons (Sp) decay by
γ emission towards the groundstate of daughter B. For
the higher excited states a competitive decay channel
of proton emission to the granddaughter C exists,
called β-delayed proton emission.
β y p

Proton emission (also known as proton


radioactivity) is a rare type of radioactive
decay in which a proton is ejected from a
nucleus. Proton emission can occur from
high-lying excited states in a nucleus
following a beta decay, in which case the
process is known as beta-delayed proton
emission, or can occur from the ground
state (or a low-lying isomer) of very
proton-rich nuclei, in which case the
process is very similar to alpha decay. For
a proton to escape a nucleus, the proton
separation energy must be negative - the
proton is therefore unbound, and tunnels
out of the nucleus in a finite time. Proton
emission is not seen in naturally occurring
isotopes; proton emitters can be produced
via nuclear reactions, usually using linear
particle accelerators.

Although prompt (i.e. not beta-delayed)


proton emission was observed from an
isomer in cobalt-53 as early as 1969, no
other proton-emitting states were found
until 1981, when the proton radioactive
ground states of lutetium-151 and thulium-
147 were observed at experiments at the
GSI in West Germany.[1] Research in the
field flourished after this breakthrough,
and to date more than 25 isotopes have
been found to exhibit proton emission. The
study of proton emission has aided the
understanding of nuclear deformation,
masses, and structure, and it is a pure
example of quantum tunneling.

In 2002, the simultaneous emission of two


protons was observed from the nucleus
iron-45 in experiments at GSI and GANIL
(Grand Accélérateur National d'Ions
Lourds at Caen). In 2005 it was
experimentally determined (at the same
facility) that zinc-54 can also undergo
double proton decay.

See also
Nuclear drip line
Diproton (a particle possibly involved in
double proton decay)
Free neutron
Neutron emission
Photodisintegration

References
1. S. Hofmann (1996). "Chapter 3: Proton
radioactivity". In Dorin N. Poseru. Nuclear
Decay Modes. Bristol: Institute of Physics
Publishing. pp. 143–203. ISBN 0-7503-
0338-7.

External links
Nuclear Structure and Decay Data -
IAEA with query on Proton Separation
Energy

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Last edited 2 months ago by A876

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