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NUCLEAR REACTORS DIPLOMA, CAIRO UNIVERSITY

Beta Energy Spectrum


Experiment 3
Ahmed Mohsen Handoussa
5/25/2013
Beta Ray Energy Spectrum
When a nucleus changes its state by beta decay, the energy spectrum of the emitted
beta particles extends from zero up to a maximum energy that depends on the
radioactive isotope.

The beta ray spectrum may be composed of two types,

1. Continuous spectrum
2. Line spectrum

Figure 1 Energy distribution curve of the beta rays (continuous spectrum)

Continuous Spectrum
The beta particle emitted by the nucleus shares the transition energy of the decay
process with the neutrino or antineutrino randomly so that it has energy ranging from
zero up to a certain maximum value called the end-point energy and it is also equal to
the total transition energy.

Line Spectrum
A nucleus in an excited state may lose its excitation or part of it to reach a lower energy
by gamma photon emission or internal conversion. The electrons emitted from
internal conversion have definite values of energy and are called internal conversion
electrons. The negative beta particles are ejected from the nucleus with kinetic energy
equal to the difference between the excitation energy ( ) and the binding energy of the
electron in its shell ( ),

The energy of the emitted beta particle from the source is given by,

[√ ( ) ]

The magnetic field strength of an electromagnet used to deflect the internal conversion
beta particles is calculated from the following expression,
The emitted electrons in this process are called internal conversion electrons and they
have definite values of energies.

For internal conversion electrons

Experimental procedure for studying the Spectrum of Beta Particles


The experiment aims at studying the spectrum of beta particles emitted from a beta
source and determine the maximum energy of the beta particles. The experiment
procedure follows,

1. Set the counter at the operating voltage (Vop) and the time at 0.5 minutes, then
adjust the spectrometer
2. Allow a 100 mA - 200 mA current to pass in a certain direction in the coil of the
electromagnet and observe the counting rate (directional test)
3. Reverse the direction of the current and observe the counting rate (directional
test)
4. The direction suitable for the experiment is the direction in which the counting
rate is larger, so we choose the larger counting rate that corresponds to the
current direction and consequently to the magnetic field that deflects the beta
particles into the counter (directional test)
5. Gradually decrease the current magnitude and simultaneously alternate its
direction to demagnetize the cores and poles of the electromagnet
(demagnetization)
6. Adjust the current at zero then take the counting rate at zero current as the
background counting rate (n0) in counts per 0.5 minutes
7. Increase the current in steps of 10 mA from0.02 A until 0.4 A and tabulate the
corresponding counting rate in each step
8. Deduce the statistical error (√ )
9. Plot a relation between the counting rate (n) and the magnetizing current (I)
10. From the graph determine the current corresponding to the end-point energy
(Imax)
11. Calculate the magnetic field strength (H)
12. Calculate the radius of the particle path (r)
13. Deduce the end-point energy
Figure 2 Experimental setup

Determination of the Energy of the emitted Negative Beta Particles


If an electron emitted from beta decay enters a homogeneous magnetic field in a
perpendicular direction it will move in a circular path which depends upon the velocity
of the electron(), its charge () and its mass (). The equation of motion is given by,

After the electron is released it follows a circular equation of motion,

The relative mass of the electron is given by,

Therefore we can re-write the equation of motion as follows,

By re-arranging, the equation of motion becomes,

( )

Since,

The equation of motion takes a different form,

( )
( )

( )

√ ( )

The relativistic kinetic energy is given by,

From the equation that describes the relative mass of the electron, the relativistic kinetic
energy becomes,

By re-arranging, the relativistic kinetic energy becomes,


( )

Now we can combine the equation of motion with the relativistic kinetic energy of the
electron to find a general expression for the energy of the emitted negative beta particle,


( )

(√ ( ) )

Since the rest mass of the electron is given by,

Therefore, the maximum energy of the emitted beta particle becomes,

(√ ( ) )
Radius and Circular Path of a Beta Particle Passing through a Magnetic Field
When a beta particle enters a homogeneous magnetic field it moves in a circular path
given by,

( )

( )

( )

Calculation of the Magnetic Field Strength


The magnetic field strength (H) is given by,

( )
Data
Source: Strontium-90

Current (I Count rate Statistical error


Serial
mA) (N) (√ )
1 0 55 7.42
2 20 53 7.28
3 40 93 9.64
4 60 230 15.17
5 80 380 19.49
6 100 504 22.45
7 120 599 24.47
8 140 825 28.72
9 160 938 30.63
10 180 1058 32.53
11 200 1161 34.07
12 220 1065 32.63
13 240 1088 32.98
14 260 879 29.65
15 280 658 25.65
16 300 508 22.54
17 320 303 17.41
18 340 101 10.05
19 360 75 8.66
20 380 52 7.21
21 400 36 6.00
22 420 35 5.92
23 440 32 5.66
24 460 44 6.63
25 480 44 6.63
26 500 28 5.29
BETA SPECTRUM FOR STRONTIUM-90
1400

1200
Count rate (counts/0.5 mn)

1000

800

600

400

200

0
40
0
20

60
80
100

160

220
120
140

180
200

240
260
280
300
320
340
360
380
400
420
440
460
480
500
Current (I mA)

Calculations
Calculation of the magnetic field strength,

( )( )
( )

Calculation of the radius of the circular path,

( ) ( )
( )

Calculate the maximum energy of the beta particle,

(√ ( ) )

( )( )
(√ ( ) )