Problem: Predict whether each nuclide is more likely to decay via beta decay or positron emission.(a) Pb-192(b) Pb-212(c) Xe-114

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We’re being asked to predict the most likely mode of decay for each of the following radioactive isotopes


Recall that the stability of an isotope depends on the ratio of neutrons to protons (N/Z). This means for stable isotopes with:

• Z ≤ 20; the N/Z ratio should be equal to 1.0

• 20 < Z ≤ 40; the N/Z ratio should be equal to 1.25

• 40 < Z ≤ 80; the N/Z ratio should be equal to 1.50

• Z < 83; the stable nuclide does not exist


The N/Z values for stable isotopes form the valley or band of stability:



  • above the valley of stability: there too many neutrons in the isotope
  • Mode of decay: Either beta decay (0–1β) or neutron emission (10n)
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Problem Details

Predict whether each nuclide is more likely to decay via beta decay or positron emission.
(a) Pb-192
(b) Pb-212
(c) Xe-114

Frequently Asked Questions

What scientific concept do you need to know in order to solve this problem?

Our tutors have indicated that to solve this problem you will need to apply the Band of Stability concept. You can view video lessons to learn Band of Stability. Or if you need more Band of Stability practice, you can also practice Band of Stability practice problems.

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Based on our data, we think this problem is relevant for Professor Jones' class at KSU.