By Will Soutter
Beta Decay of He6 atoms
The physicists simulated the process leading to beta decay in 6He nuclei to study the impact on the orbital electrons of the atom. The process of decay of atomic nuclei is considered to yield valuable information on the various phenomena pertaining to quantum mechanics. However, until now, such a model has been difficult to simulate. The physicists at NCBJ have succeeded in this through their experiment at the GAEN accelerator centre in Caen.
A 6He ion has four neutrons and two protons in its nucleus. An ion that is singly ionized possesses one orbital electron in its nucleus. Such atomic nuclei which possess extra neutrons are rendered unstable and undergo beta decay in which a neutron is converted into proton. The decaying nucleus also emits an electron to retain the electric charge. Electron anti-neutrinos accompany the emitted electrons. The end result is the production of a stable 6Li nucleus with a single orbital electron. The orbital electron is thus impacted by the change in electric charge of the nucleus as a result of the increase in number of protons from two to three and the presence of a negatively charged electron flying in the vicinity of the orbital electron. The impact is either excitation of the orbital electron or ejection of the electron from the atom. The sudden approximation method involves the identification of superposition of final wave state (creation of 6Li ion) and initial wave state (the 6He ion). This method has now been verified by the experiment at the GAEN accelerator.