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Chemical Consequences of Radioactive Decay and their Biological Implications

[ Vol. 10 , Issue. 3 ]


Onofre T. DeJesus*   Pages 155 - 165 ( 11 )


The chemical effects of radioactive decay arise from (1) transmutation, (2) formation of charged daughter nuclei, (3) recoil of the daughter nuclei, (4) electron “shakeoff” phenomenon and (5) vacancy cascade in decays via electron capture and internal conversion. This review aims to reiterate what has been known for a long time regarding the chemical consequences of radioactive decay and gives a historical perspective to the observations that led to their elucidation. The energetics of the recoil process in each decay mode is discussed in relation to the chemical bond between the decaying nucleus and the parent molecule. Special attention is given to the biological effects of the Auger process following decay by electron capture and internal conversion because of their possible utility in internal radiotherapy.


Auger effect, energy and momentum, internal radiotherapy, photochemistry, radiation effects, radioactive decay, transmutation.


School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research B1147, 1111 Highland Avenue, Madison WI 53705

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