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Decay Paths

Radioactive decay paths are the chained series of transformations of radioactive decay products. Most radioactive elements do not decay to a stable state right away. They usually under a series of decays until the stable isotope have been reached.

Decay stages are the relationship between previous stages. A parent isotope is the initial state that will undergo a decay to form a daughter isotope. The daughter is either a stable isotope or will decay future to form a daughter isotope of its own. This daughter or a daughter isotope is called a granddaughter isotope.

Decay time for parent-daughter decay can vary. They can vary for different parent-daughter chains or identical atoms of parent-daughter chains. Although atoms decay times are different, the entire population of atoms will decay over time t, as seen in the following exponential distribution


Where λ is the decay constant. Due to this exponential property, radioactive decay path isotopes are the atoms half-life.
There are four common types of radioactive decay. These four types are alpha decay, beta decay, inverse beta decay and isomeric transition. Only the alpha decay changes the atomic number of the nucleus. It will decrease the atomic mass by four.

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