Double electron capture

Double electron capture is a decay mode of an atomic nucleus.[1] For a nuclide (A, Z) with number of nucleons A and atomic number Z, double electron capture is only possible if the mass of the nuclide of (A, Z−2) is lower.

In this mode of decay, two of the orbital electrons are captured by two protons in the nucleus, forming two neutrons. Two neutrinos are emitted in the process. Since the protons are changed to neutrons, the number of neutrons increases by 2, the number of protons Z decreases by 2, and the atomic mass number A remains unchanged. By changing the number of protons, double electron capture transforms the nuclide into a new element.



→  130


In most cases this decay mode is masked by more probable modes (single electron capture etc.), but when all these modes are forbidden or strongly suppressed, double electron capture becomes the main mode of decay. There exist 35 naturally occurring isotopes that can undergo double electron capture. There are, however, only three confirmed observations of this process (for krypton-78, barium-130 and xenon-124). One reason is that the probability of double electron capture is enormously small (the theoretical predictions of half-lives for this mode lie well above 1020 years). A second reason is that the only detectable particles created in this process are X-rays and Auger electrons that are emitted by the excited atomic shell. In the range of their energies (~1–10 keV), the background is usually high. Thus, the experimental detection of double electron capture is more difficult than that for double beta decay. Double electron capture can be accompanied by the excitation of the daughter nucleus. Its de-excitation, in turn, is accompanied by an emission of photons with energies of hundreds of keV.

If the mass difference between the mother and daughter atoms is more than two masses of an electron (1.022 MeV), the energy released in the process is enough to allow another mode of decay: electron capture with positron emission. It occurs along with double electron capture, their branching ratio depending on nuclear properties. When the mass difference is more than four electron masses (2.044 MeV), the third mode—double positron decay—is allowed. Only 6 naturally occurring nuclides can decay via these three modes simultaneously.

Neutrinoless double electron capture

The above-described process with the capture of two electrons and emission of two neutrinos (two-neutrino double electron capture) is allowed by the Standard Model of particle physics: no conservation laws (including lepton number conservation) are violated. However, if the lepton number is not conserved, or the neutrino is its own antiparticle, another kind of process can occur: the so-called neutrinoless double electron capture. In this case, two electrons are captured by nucleus, but neutrinos are not emitted.[2] The energy released in this process is carried away by an internal bremsstrahlung gamma quantum. This mode of decay has never been observed experimentally, and would contradict the Standard Model if it were observed.



→  130

See also


  1. ^ M. Hirsch; et al. (1994). "Nuclear structure calculation ofβ+β+,β+/EC and EC/EC decay matrix elements". Zeitschrift für Physik A Hadrons and Nuclei. 347 (3): 151–160. doi:10.1007/BF01292371.
  2. ^ J.Bernabeu, A.De Rujula. C.Jarlskog (1985-08-15). "Neutrinoless double electron capture as a tool to measure the electron neutrino mass". Nuclear Physics B. 223 (1): 15–28. Bibcode:1983NuPhB.223...15B. doi:10.1016/0550-3213(83)90089-5. Retrieved 2017-12-25.

External links


Cadmium is a chemical element with the symbol Cd and atomic number 48. This soft, silvery-white metal is chemically similar to the two other stable metals in group 12, zinc and mercury. Like zinc, it demonstrates oxidation state +2 in most of its compounds, and like mercury, it has a lower melting point than the transition metals in groups 3 through 11. Cadmium and its congeners in group 12 are often not considered transition metals, in that they do not have partly filled d or f electron shells in the elemental or common oxidation states. The average concentration of cadmium in Earth's crust is between 0.1 and 0.5 parts per million (ppm). It was discovered in 1817 simultaneously by Stromeyer and Hermann, both in Germany, as an impurity in zinc carbonate.

Cadmium occurs as a minor component in most zinc ores and is a byproduct of zinc production. Cadmium was used for a long time as a corrosion-resistant plating on steel, and cadmium compounds are used as red, orange and yellow pigments, to color glass, and to stabilize plastic. Cadmium use is generally decreasing because it is toxic (it is specifically listed in the European Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and nickel-cadmium batteries have been replaced with nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. One of its few new uses is cadmium telluride solar panels.

Although cadmium has no known biological function in higher organisms, a cadmium-dependent carbonic anhydrase has been found in marine diatoms.


Calcium is a chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. As an alkaline earth metal, calcium is a reactive metal that forms a dark oxide-nitride layer when exposed to air. Its physical and chemical properties are most similar to its heavier homologues strontium and barium. It is the fifth most abundant element in Earth's crust and the third most abundant metal, after iron and aluminium. The most common calcium compound on Earth is calcium carbonate, found in limestone and the fossilised remnants of early sea life; gypsum, anhydrite, fluorite, and apatite are also sources of calcium. The name derives from Latin calx "lime", which was obtained from heating limestone.

Some calcium compounds were known to the ancients, though their chemistry was unknown until the seventeenth century. Pure calcium was isolated in 1808 via electrolysis of its oxide by Humphry Davy, who named the element. Calcium compounds are widely used in many industries: in foods and pharmaceuticals for calcium supplementation, in the paper industry as bleaches, as components in cement and electrical insulators, and in the manufacture of soaps. On the other hand, the metal in pure form has few applications due to its high reactivity; still, in small quantities it is often used as an alloying component in steelmaking, and sometimes, as a calcium–lead alloy, in making automotive batteries.

Calcium is the most abundant metal and the fifth-most abundant element in the human body. As electrolytes, calcium ions play a vital role in the physiological and biochemical processes of organisms and cells: in signal transduction pathways where they act as a second messenger; in neurotransmitter release from neurons; in contraction of all muscle cell types; as cofactors in many enzymes; and in fertilization. Calcium ions outside cells are important for maintaining the potential difference across excitable cell membranes as well as proper bone formation.

Double beta decay

In nuclear physics, double beta decay is a type of radioactive decay in which two neutrons are simultaneously transformed into two protons, or vice versa, inside an atomic nucleus. As in single beta decay, this process allows the atom to move closer to the optimal ratio of protons and neutrons. As a result of this transformation, the nucleus emits two detectable beta particles, which are electrons or positrons.

The literature distinguishes between two types of double beta decay: ordinary double beta decay and neutrinoless double beta decay. In ordinary double beta decay, which has been observed in several isotopes, two electrons and two electron antineutrinos are emitted from the decaying nucleus. In neutrinoless double beta decay, a hypothesized process that has never been observed, only electrons would be emitted.

Index of physics articles (D)

The index of physics articles is split into multiple pages due to its size.

To navigate by individual letter use the table of contents below.

Isotopes of argon

Argon (18Ar) has 26 known isotopes, from 29Ar to 54Ar and 1 isomer (32mAr), of which three are stable (36Ar, 38Ar, and 40Ar). On the Earth, 40Ar makes up 99.6% of natural argon. The longest-lived radioactive isotopes are 39Ar with a half-life of 269 years, 42Ar with a half-life of 32.9 years, and 37Ar with a half-life of 35.04 days. All other isotopes have half-lives of less than two hours, and most less than one minute. The least stable is 29Ar with a half-life of approximately 4×10−20 seconds.The naturally occurring 40K, with a half-life of 1.248×109 years, decays to stable 40Ar by electron capture (10.72%) and by positron emission (0.001%), and also transforms to stable 40Ca via beta decay (89.28%). These properties and ratios are used to determine the age of rocks through potassium–argon dating.Despite the trapping of 40Ar in many rocks, it can be released by melting, grinding, and diffusion. Almost all of the argon in the Earth's atmosphere is the product of 40K decay, since 99.6% of Earth atmospheric argon is 40Ar, whereas in the Sun and presumably in primordial star-forming clouds, argon consists of < 15% 38Ar and mostly (85%) 36Ar. Similarly, the ratio of the three isotopes 36Ar:38Ar:40Ar in the atmospheres of the outer planets is measured to be 8400:1600:1.In the Earth's atmosphere, radioactive 39Ar (half-life 269 years) is made by cosmic ray activity, primarily from 40Ar. In the subsurface environment, it is also produced through neutron capture by 39K or alpha emission by calcium. The content of 39Ar in natural argon is measured to be of (8.0±0.6)×10−16 g/g, or (1.01±0.08) Bq/kg of 36, 38, 40Ar. The content of 42Ar (half-life 33 years) in the Earth's atmosphere is lower than 6×10−21 parts per part of 36, 38, 40Ar. Many endeavors require argon depleted in the cosmogenic isotopes, known as depleted argon. In December 2013, 36Ar, in the form of argon hydride, was found in cosmic dust associated with the Crab Nebula supernova. This was the first time a noble molecule was detected in outer space.Radioactive 37Ar is a synthetic radionuclide that is created from the neutron capture by 40Ca followed by an alpha particle emission as a result of subsurface nuclear explosions. It has a half-life of 35 days.

Isotopes of barium

Naturally occurring barium (56Ba) is a mix of six stable isotopes and one very long-lived radioactive primordial isotope, barium-130, identified as being unstable by geochemical means (from analysis of the presence of its daughter xenon-130 in rocks) in 2001. This nuclide decays by double-electron capture (absorbing two electrons and emitting two neutrinos); with a half-life of (0.5–2.7)×1021 years (about 1011 times the age of the universe).

There are a total of thirty-three known radioisotopes in addition to 130Ba, but most of these are highly radioactive with half-lives in the several millisecond to several minute range. The only notable exceptions are 133Ba, which has a half-life of 10.51 years, 131Ba (11.5 days), and 137mBa (2.55 minutes), which is the decay product of 137Cs (30.17 years, and a common fission product).

Barium-114 is predicted to undergo cluster decay, emitting a nucleus of stable 12C to produce 102Sn. However this decay is not yet observed; the upper limit on the branching ratio of such decay is 0.0034%.

Isotopes of cadmium

Naturally occurring cadmium (48Cd) is composed of 8 isotopes. For two of them, natural radioactivity was observed, and three others are predicted to be radioactive but their decays were never observed, due to extremely long half-lives. The two natural radioactive isotopes are 113Cd (beta decay, half-life is 8.04 × 1015 years) and 116Cd (two-neutrino double beta decay, half-life is 2.8 × 1019 years). The other three are 106Cd, 108Cd (double electron capture), and 114Cd (double beta decay); only lower limits on their half-life times have been set. At least three isotopes—110Cd, 111Cd, and 112Cd—are absolutely stable. Among the isotopes absent in natural cadmium, the most long-lived are 109Cd with a half-life of 462.6 days, and 115Cd with a half-life of 53.46 hours. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 2.5 hours and the majority of these have half-lives that are less than 5 minutes. This element also has 12 known meta states, with the most stable being 113mCd (t1/2 14.1 years), 115mCd (t1/2 44.6 days) and 117mCd (t1/2 3.36 hours).

The known isotopes of cadmium range in atomic mass from 94.950 u (95Cd) to 131.946 u (132Cd). The primary decay mode before the second most abundant stable isotope, 112Cd, is electron capture and the primary modes after are beta emission and electron capture. The primary decay product before 112Cd is element 47 (silver) and the primary product after is element 49 (indium).

Isotopes of calcium

Calcium (20Ca) has 26 known isotopes, ranging from 35Ca to 60Ca. There are five stable isotopes (40Ca, 42Ca, 43Ca, 44Ca and 46Ca), plus one isotope (48Ca) with such a long half-life that for all practical purposes it can be considered stable. The most abundant isotope, 40Ca, as well as the rare 46Ca, are theoretically unstable on energetic grounds, but their decay has not been observed. Calcium also has a cosmogenic isotope, radioactive 41Ca, which has a half-life of 99,400 years. Unlike cosmogenic isotopes that are produced in the atmosphere, 41Ca is produced by neutron activation of 40Ca. Most of its production is in the upper metre or so of the soil column, where the cosmogenic neutron flux is still sufficiently strong. 41Ca has received much attention in stellar studies because it decays to 41K, a critical indicator of solar-system anomalies. The most stable artificial radioisotopes are 45Ca with a half-life of 163 days and 47Ca with a half-life of 4.5 days. All other calcium isotopes have half-lives measured in minutes or less.40Ca comprises about 97% of naturally occurring calcium. 40Ca is also one of the daughter products of 40K decay, along with 40Ar. While K-Ar dating has been used extensively in the geological sciences, the prevalence of 40Ca in nature has impeded its use in dating. Techniques using mass spectrometry and a double spike isotope dilution have been used for K–Ca age dating.

Isotopes of chromium

Naturally occurring chromium (24Cr) is composed of four stable isotopes; 50Cr, 52Cr, 53Cr, and 54Cr with 52Cr being the most abundant (83.789% natural abundance). 50Cr is suspected of decaying by β+β+ to 50Ti with a half-life of (more than) 1.8×1017 years. Twenty-two radioisotopes, all of which are entirely synthetic, have been characterized with the most stable being 51Cr with a half-life of 27.7 days. All of the remaining radioactive isotopes have half-lives that are less than 24 hours and the majority of these have half-lives that are less than 1 minute, the least stable being 66Cr with a half-life of 10 milliseconds. This element also has 2 meta states, 45mCr, the more stable one, and 59mCr, the least stable isotope or isomer.

53Cr is the radiogenic decay product of 53Mn. Chromium isotopic contents are typically combined with manganese isotopic contents and have found application in isotope geology. Mn-Cr isotope ratios reinforce the evidence from 26Al and 107Pd for the early history of the solar system. Variations in 53Cr/52Cr and Mn/Cr ratios from several meteorites indicate an initial 53Mn/55Mn ratio that suggests Mn-Cr isotope systematics must result from in-situ decay of 53Mn in differentiated planetary bodies. Hence 53Cr provides additional evidence for nucleosynthetic processes immediately before coalescence of the solar system. The same isotope is preferentially involved in certain leaching reactions, thereby allowing its abundance in seawater sediments to be used as a proxy for atmospheric oxygen concentrations.The isotopes of chromium range from 42Cr to 67Cr. The primary decay mode before the most abundant stable isotope, 52Cr, is electron capture and the primary mode after is beta decay.

Isotopes of iron

Naturally occurring iron (26Fe) consists of four stable isotopes: 5.845% of 54Fe (possibly radioactive with a half-life over 4.4×1020 years), 91.754% of 56Fe, 2.119% of 57Fe and 0.286% of 58Fe. There are 24 known radioactive isotopes whose half-lives are listed below, the most stable of which are 60Fe (half-life 2.6 million years) and 55Fe (half-life 2.7 years).

Much of the past work on measuring the isotopic composition of Fe has centered on determining 60Fe variations due to processes accompanying nucleosynthesis (i.e., meteorite studies) and ore formation. In the last decade however, advances in mass spectrometry technology have allowed the detection and quantification of minute, naturally occurring variations in the ratios of the stable isotopes of iron. Much of this work has been driven by the Earth and planetary science communities, although applications to biological and industrial systems are beginning to emerge.

Isotopes of xenon

Naturally occurring xenon (54Xe) consists of seven stable isotopes and two very long-lived isotopes. Double electron capture has been observed in 124Xe (half-life 1.8 ± 0.5(stat) ± 0.1(sys) ×1022 years) and double beta decay in 136Xe (half-life 2.165 ± 0.016(stat) ± 0.059(sys) ×1021 years), which are among the longest measured half-lives of all nuclides. The isotopes 126Xe and 134Xe are also predicted to undergo double beta decay, but this has never been observed in these isotopes, so they are considered to be stable. Xenon has the second-highest number of stable isotopes. Only tin, with 10 stable isotopes, has more. Beyond these stable forms, 32 artificial unstable isotopes and various isomers have been studied, the longest-lived of which is 127Xe with a half-life of 36.345 days. All other isotopes have half-lives less than 12 days, most less than 20 hours. The shortest-lived isotope, 108Xe, has a half-life of 58 µs, and is the heaviest known nuclide with equal numbers of protons and neutrons. Of known isomers, the longest-lived is 131mXe with a half-life of 11.934 days. 129Xe is produced by beta decay of 129I (half-life: 16 million years); 131mXe, 133Xe, 133mXe, and 135Xe are some of the fission products of both 235U and 239Pu, so are used as indicators of nuclear explosions.

The artificial isotope 135Xe is of considerable significance in the operation of nuclear fission reactors. 135Xe has a huge cross section for thermal neutrons, 2.65×106 barns, so it acts as a neutron absorber or "poison" that can slow or stop the chain reaction after a period of operation. This was discovered in the earliest nuclear reactors built by the American Manhattan Project for plutonium production. Because of this effect, designers must make provisions to increase the reactor's reactivity (the number of neutrons per fission that go on to fission other atoms of nuclear fuel) over the initial value needed to start the chain reaction.

Relatively high concentrations of radioactive xenon isotopes are also found emanating from nuclear reactors due to the release of this fission gas from cracked fuel rods or fissioning of uranium in cooling water. The concentrations of these isotopes are still usually low compared to the naturally occurring radioactive noble gas 222Rn.

Because xenon is a tracer for two parent isotopes, Xe isotope ratios in meteorites are a powerful tool for studying the formation of the solar system. The I-Xe method of dating gives the time elapsed between nucleosynthesis and the condensation of a solid object from the solar nebula (xenon being a gas, only that part of it that formed after condensation will be present inside the object). Xenon isotopes are also a powerful tool for understanding terrestrial differentiation. Excess 129Xe found in carbon dioxide well gases from New Mexico was believed to be from the decay of mantle-derived gases soon after Earth's formation.


Krypton (from Ancient Greek: κρυπτός, romanized: kryptos "the hidden one") is a chemical element with the symbol Kr and atomic number 36. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless noble gas that occurs in trace amounts in the atmosphere and is often used with other rare gases in fluorescent lamps. With rare exceptions, krypton is chemically inert.

Krypton, like the other noble gases, is used in lighting and photography. Krypton light has many spectral lines, and krypton plasma is useful in bright, high-powered gas lasers (krypton ion and excimer lasers), each of which resonates and amplifies a single spectral line. Krypton fluoride also makes a useful laser medium. From 1960 to 1983, the official length of a meter was defined by the 606-nanometer wavelength of the orange spectral line of krypton-86, because of the high power and relative ease of operation of krypton discharge tubes.

Nuclear reaction

In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, a nuclear reaction is semantically considered to be the process in which two nuclei, or else a nucleus of an atom and a subatomic particle (such as a proton, neutron, or high energy electron) from outside the atom, collide to produce one or more nuclides that are different from the nuclide(s) that began the process (parent nuclei). Thus, a nuclear reaction must cause a transformation of at least one nuclide to another. If a nucleus interacts with another nucleus or particle and they then separate without changing the nature of any nuclide, the process is simply referred to as a type of nuclear scattering, rather than a nuclear reaction.

In principle, a reaction can involve more than two particles colliding, but because the probability of three or more nuclei to meet at the same time at the same place is much less than for two nuclei, such an event is exceptionally rare (see triple alpha process for an example very close to a three-body nuclear reaction). "Nuclear reaction" is a term implying an induced changing in a nuclide, and thus it does not apply to any type of radioactive decay (which by definition is a spontaneous process).Natural nuclear reactions occur in the interaction between cosmic rays and matter, and nuclear reactions can be employed artificially to obtain nuclear energy, at an adjustable rate, on demand. Perhaps the most notable nuclear reactions are the nuclear chain reactions in fissionable materials that produce induced nuclear fission, and the various nuclear fusion reactions of light elements that power the energy production of the Sun and stars.

Primordial nuclide

In geochemistry, geophysics and geonuclear physics, primordial nuclides, also known as primordial isotopes, are nuclides found on Earth that have existed in their current form since before Earth was formed. Primordial nuclides were present in the interstellar medium from which the solar system was formed, and were formed in, or after, the Big Bang, by nucleosynthesis in stars and supernovae followed by mass ejection, by cosmic ray spallation, and potentially from other processes. They are the stable nuclides plus the long-lived fraction of radionuclides surviving in the primordial solar nebula through planet accretion until the present. Only 286 such nuclides are known.


A radionuclide (radioactive nuclide, radioisotope or radioactive isotope) is an atom that has excess nuclear energy, making it unstable. This excess energy can be used in one of three ways: emitted from the nucleus as gamma radiation; transferred to one of its electrons to release it as a conversion electron; or used to create and emit a new particle (alpha particle or beta particle) from the nucleus. During those processes, the radionuclide is said to undergo radioactive decay. These emissions are considered ionizing radiation because they are powerful enough to liberate an electron from another atom. The radioactive decay can produce a stable nuclide or will sometimes produce a new unstable radionuclide which may undergo further decay. Radioactive decay is a random process at the level of single atoms: it is impossible to predict when one particular atom will decay. However, for a collection of atoms of a single element the decay rate, and thus the half-life (t1/2) for that collection can be calculated from their measured decay constants. The range of the half-lives of radioactive atoms have no known limits and span a time range of over 55 orders of magnitude.

Radionuclides occur naturally or are artificially produced in nuclear reactors, cyclotrons, particle accelerators or radionuclide generators. There are about 730 radionuclides with half-lives longer than 60 minutes (see list of nuclides). Thirty-two of those are primordial radionuclides that were created before the earth was formed. At least another 60 radionuclides are detectable in nature, either as daughters of primordial radionuclides or as radionuclides produced through natural production on Earth by cosmic radiation. More than 2400 radionuclides have half-lives less than 60 minutes. Most of those are only produced artificially, and have very short half-lives. For comparison, there are about 252 stable nuclides. (In theory, only 146 of them are stable, and the other 106 are believed to decay (alpha decay or beta decay or double beta decay or electron capture or double electron capture))

All chemical elements can exist as radionuclides. Even the lightest element, hydrogen, has a well-known radionuclide, tritium. Elements heavier than lead, and the elements technetium and promethium, exist only as radionuclides. (In theory, elements heavier than dysprosium exist only as radionuclides, but the half-life for some such elements (e.g. gold and platinum) are too long to found)

Unplanned exposure to radionuclides generally has a harmful effect on living organisms including humans, although low levels of exposure occur naturally without harm. The degree of harm will depend on the nature and extent of the radiation produced, the amount and nature of exposure (close contact, inhalation or ingestion), and the biochemical properties of the element; with increased risk of cancer the most usual consequence. However, radionuclides with suitable properties are used in nuclear medicine for both diagnosis and treatment. An imaging tracer made with radionuclides is called a radioactive tracer. A pharmaceutical drug made with radionuclides is called a radiopharmaceutical.


The slow neutron-capture process , or s-process is a series of reactions in nuclear astrophysics that occur in stars, particularly AGB stars. The s-process is responsible for the creation (nucleosynthesis) of approximately half the atomic nuclei heavier than iron.

In the s-process, a seed nucleus undergoes neutron capture to form an isotope with one higher atomic mass. If the new isotope is stable, a series of increases in mass can occur, but if it is unstable, then beta decay will occur, producing an element of the next highest atomic number. The process is slow (hence the name) in the sense that there is sufficient time for this radioactive decay to occur before another neutron is captured. A series of these reactions produces stable isotopes by moving along the valley of beta-decay stable isobars in the table of nuclides.

A range of elements and isotopes can be produced by the s-process, because of the intervention of alpha decay steps along the reaction chain. The relative abundances of elements and isotopes produced depends on the source of the neutrons and how their flux changes over time. Each branch of the s-process reaction chain eventually terminates at a cycle involving lead, bismuth, and polonium.

The s-process contrasts with the r-process, in which successive neutron captures are rapid: they happen more quickly than the beta decay can occur. The r-process dominates in environments with higher fluxes of free neutrons; it produces heavier elements and more neutron-rich isotopes than the s-process. Together the two processes account for most of the relative abundance of chemical elements heavier than iron.

Stable nuclide

Stable nuclides are nuclides that are not radioactive and so (unlike radionuclides) do not spontaneously undergo radioactive decay. When such nuclides are referred to in relation to specific elements, they are usually termed stable isotopes.

The 80 elements with one or more stable isotopes comprise a total of 252 nuclides that have not been known to decay using current equipment (see list at the end of this article). Of these elements, 26 have only one stable isotope; they are thus termed monoisotopic. The rest have more than one stable isotope. Tin has ten stable isotopes, the largest number of isotopes known for an element.


The XENON dark matter research project, operated at the Italian Gran Sasso National Laboratory, is a deep underground research facility featuring increasingly ambitious experiments aiming to detect dark matter particles. The experiments aim to detect particles in the form of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) by looking for rare interactions via nuclear recoils in a liquid xenon target chamber. The current detector consists of a dual phase time projection chamber (TPC).

The experiment detects scintillation and ionization produced when particles interact in the liquid xenon volume, to search for an excess of nuclear recoil events over known backgrounds. The detection of such a signal would provide the first direct experimental evidence for dark matter candidate particles. The collaboration is currently led by Italian professor of physics Elena Aprile from Columbia University.


Xenon is a chemical element with the symbol Xe and atomic number 54. It is a colorless, dense, odorless noble gas found in Earth's atmosphere in trace amounts. Although generally unreactive, xenon can undergo a few chemical reactions such as the formation of xenon hexafluoroplatinate, the first noble gas compound to be synthesized.Xenon is used in flash lamps and arc lamps, and as a general anesthetic. The first excimer laser design used a xenon dimer molecule (Xe2) as the lasing medium, and the earliest laser designs used xenon flash lamps as pumps. Xenon is used to search for hypothetical weakly interacting massive particles and as the propellant for ion thrusters in spacecraft.Naturally occurring xenon consists of seven stable isotopes and two long-lived radioactive isotopes. More than 40 unstable xenon isotopes undergo radioactive decay, and the isotope ratios of xenon are an important tool for studying the early history of the Solar System. Radioactive xenon-135 is produced by beta decay from iodine-135 (a product of nuclear fission), and is the most significant (and unwanted) neutron absorber in nuclear reactors.



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