Unraveling the details of beta decay.
The existence of this quantum effect and the "fine structure" it produces in a spectrum may have important consequences in the search for heavy neutrinos (SN:4/27/91, p.260). Each beta decay produces not only an electron but also an invisible neutrino, and researchers have long relied on measurements of beta-decay spectra for information about the accompanying neutrinos. Koonin cautions that the presence of fine structure could change the interpretation of certain experiments designed to search for heavy neutrinos.
This characteristic spectral fingerprint may also serve as a means of gleaning information about the chemical, or electronic, environment surrounding an atomic nucleus, Koonin suggests. For example, he says, by precisely measuring the shape and size of the fine-structure spectrum resulting from tritium (a radioactive hydrogen isotope) embedded in a crystal, researchers could map the location of hydrogen in solids.
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|Title Annotation:||beta particles|
|Date:||Jan 11, 1992|
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