Types of radioactive decay dating
These ions are accelerated in an electric field through collimating slits and subject to a magnetic field which causes the ions to follow a curved path. By adjustment of the strength of the magnetic field and suitable placement of an ion collector, the different isotopes can be measured with precision.There are some things that affect these measurements. A parent isotope is one that undergoes decay to form a daughter isotope.
This means that they have a charge of 2, and a mass of 4 (the mass is measured in "atomic mass units", where each proton & neutron=1) We can write them as , or, because they're the same as a helium nucleus, . They have a low penetrating power - you can stop them with just a sheet of paper.
After the second half-life has elapsed, yet another 50% of the remaining parent isotope will decay into daughter isotopes, and so on.
For all practical purposes, the original isotope is considered extinct after 6 half-life intervals. A small portion of a meteorite is vaporized in the device forming ions.
Americium-241, a radioactive element best known for its use in smoke detectors, is a good example of an element that undergoes alpha decay.
An americium-241 atom will spontaneously throw off an alpha particle.