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Electron capture has the same effect on the nucleus as does positron emission: The atomic number is decreased by one and the mass number does not change.

This increases the n:p ratio, and the daughter nuclide lies closer to the band of stability than did the parent nuclide.

Electron capture occurs when one of the inner electrons in an atom is captured by the atom’s nucleus.

For example, potassium-40 undergoes electron capture: Electron capture occurs when an inner shell electron combines with a proton and is converted into a neutron.

Beta (β) decay is the emission of an electron from a nucleus.

Iodine-131 is an example of a nuclide that undergoes β decay: Beta decay, which can be thought of as the conversion of a neutron into a proton and a β particle, is observed in nuclides with a large n:p ratio.

The scans it produces can be used to image a healthy brain (b) or can be used for diagnosing medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (c).

(credit a: modification of work by Jens Maus)O () and incorporated into a glucose analog called fludeoxyglucose (FDG).

Positron emission tomography (PET) scans use radiation to diagnose and track health conditions and monitor medical treatments by revealing how parts of a patient’s body function (Figure 4).Although the radioactive decay of a nucleus is too small to see with the naked eye, we can indirectly view radioactive decay in an environment called a cloud chamber.Click here to learn about cloud chambers and to view an interesting Cloud Chamber Demonstration from the Jefferson Lab.The loss of an inner shell electron leaves a vacancy that will be filled by one of the outer electrons.As the outer electron drops into the vacancy, it will emit energy.

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In most cases, the energy emitted will be in the form of an X-ray.