Archive for June, 2011

Jun 09 2011

Internal Conversion

Internal conversion is likely due to a missed spin flip signal from the nucleus, when one or more currents internal to the nucleus are disrupted at an inappropriate time.  One of the places a description is found is in Krane section 10.6.

Looking to the same book, and while it refers to the complete spin-orbit interaction, and not just spin flips, a useful quote here is “the nucleus produces a current loop, which gives rise to a magnetic field at the location of the electron; this magnetic field interacts with the spin magnetic moment µs of the electron …” *.  When it comes to internal conversion then, synchronous timing of a spin flip signal is critical to holding an electron in a quantum orbital, and loss of the signal due to nucleus disruption can allow the electron to take off on a short or long trip to an atmospheric atom, to another planet, to the Andromeda Galaxy, or to be captured in a Van Allen Belt just for a few possibilities.

The higher the principle quantum number, the higher the kinetic energy an electron will have in this process as it takes off.


* Krane, Kenneth, Introductory Nuclear Physics, John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1988, Chapter 16, pg 611

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