Can the gain or loss of a neutron cause transmutation?
Yes. In alpha, beta minus, and beta plus decay, the atomic number of the parent isotope is increased or decreased due to the loss or gain of a neutron. The change in atomic number changes the identity of the parent isotope to a daughter isotope with a different identity.
Transmutation is the transformation of one element into another by one or a series of nuclear decays or reactions.
Alpha decay occurs when an unstable nucleus emits an alpha particle, which is identical to a helium-4 nucleus
There are two types of beta decay; beta minus decay and beta plus decay. A beta particle is a high energy electron or positron (positively charged electron. In beta minus decay, a neutron decays into a proton, an electron, and an antineutrino:
For example, a neutron in carbon-14
In beta plus decay, a proton decays into a neutron, a positron, and a neutrino: