Beta Decay

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  • When an unstable atom with too many neutrons decays it releases Beta particles with a spectrum of energies.
  • Each Beta emitter has a maximum energy that is reflected in reference texts.
  • Only a small percentage of the Betas have the maximum energy.
  • The greatest amount of Beta particles (average energy) emitted are approximately 1/3 of the maximum energy.
  • The spectrum in this graph depicts the spectrum of beta particles.
  • For example, P-32 has a maximum energy of 1.71 MeV, average energy is 570 keV.
  • Knowing the average energy is essential to set up windows for counting in Liquid Scintillation Counters and other radiation detection equipment used for Beta emitters.

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