electron capture

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electron capture

n
1. (Nuclear Physics) the transformation of an atomic nucleus in which an electron from the atom is spontaneously absorbed into the nucleus. A proton is changed into a neutron, thereby reducing the atomic number by 1. A neutrino is emitted. The process may be detected by the consequent emission of the characteristic X-rays of the resultant element. Former name: K-capture
2. (General Physics) the spontaneous or induced recombination of free electrons with ions or by transfer from other atoms or ions
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In nuclear physics the word "radioactivity" is a synonym for the instability of the nuclei which either de-excite emitting a photon, decay via a cluster emission (of which the alpha decay is the most famous and the best studied example of a quantum tunneling process) or undergo the weak transition known as beta decay or inverse beta decay. In atomic physics, excited states are indeed considered as unstable and in a similar way we could treat excited molecules.
It is the inverse beta decay supplying us with the positron needed in medical tomography whose one version relies on the decay of the positronium.