# How should you write nuclear equations for beta decay?

Mar 5, 2017

Beta-minus decay: increase the atomic number by one, mass stays the same. Release electron and anti-neutrino.

#### Explanation:

Beta decay is when a neutron decays into a proton, an electron and an anti-neutrino.

This increases the atomic number of the nucleus by one, but the mass number stays the same.

For example, a carbon-13 nucleus undergoing beta decay would be written as

${\text{_6^13C -> }}_{7}^{13} N + {e}^{-} + {\overline{v}}_{e}$

This is known as beta-minus decay.

You can also have another form of beta decay which is asked about less frequently at lower levels of chemistry, beta-plus decay. This is when a proton decays into a neutron, a positron (anti-electron) and a neutrino. It is effectively the opposite of beta-minus decay.

Beta-plus decay decreases the atomic number by one, while the mass number stays the same.

${\text{_7^13N -> }}_{6}^{13} C + {e}^{+} + {v}_{e}$

You could write electrons and positrons as beta-particles, like so:

e^(-) = ""_-1^0beta

e^(+) = ""_1^0beta