Bingham, Carrol Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Alpha radioactivity
- Interactions with matter
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Helium nuclei, which are abundant throughout the universe both as radioactive-decay products and as key participants in stellar fusion reactions. Alpha particles can also be generated in the laboratory, either by ionizing helium or from nuclear reactions. They expend their energy rapidly as they pass through matter, primarily by taking part in ionization processes, and consequently have short penetration ranges. Numerous technological applications of alpha particles can be found in fields as diverse as medicine, space exploration, and geology. Alpha particles are also major factors in the health concerns associated with nuclear waste and other radiation hazards.
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